Healthy Foods – 5 Superfoods to Include in your Daily Diet
You may have heard about ‘Superfoods’ — a fairly newly coined term that refers to those foods that have the most nutritional value for the least number of calories. Superfoods are specially recognized because they are nutrient-rich that have the potential to positively affect your health and help fight or prevent certain diseases. Let’s take a look at 5 superfoods that you can include in your daily diet for a power-pack meal or snack.
- Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are tiny black or white seeds from a plant named Salvia hispanica L. They are gaining popularity as food ingredients amongst health-conscious consumers. Rightly so, as it is a powerhouse of nutrients such as Polyunsaturated Fat, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Fiber, Protein, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin B1 and B3, Phosphorus, and Zinc. Apart from micro-nutrients, it also contains anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants help neutralise free radicals that contribute to aging and cancer.
As chia seeds do not have any distinct flavour, you can easily include it in your daily diet by sprinkling a few teaspoons on breakfast cereal, salads, or stew. You can also steer it into salad dressing, sauces, cakes/muffins/breads, etc.
- Beans and Legumes
Beans and Legumes are protein-haven for vegetarians. They are a powerhouse of plant-based proteins that are low in saturated fats which provide health benefits that animal-based protein cannot provide. Lentils, kidney beans, red beans, chickpeas, and other types of beans are loaded with nutrients and are high in fiber content, folate, and vitamins. Beans are also known to help with weight loss and regulate blood sugar.
It's very easy to incorporate beans and legumes into your daily diet. Indian households have beans and legumes stored all-round the year. You can make bean-based spreads such as hummus or add them to salads, soups, and casserole.
One may argue that since eggs contain high cholesterol levels, one must be careful in consuming them. Actually, many studies have shown that eggs improve cholesterol levels. Eggs are packed with high-quality protein, B vitamins, Choline, Selenium, Vitamin A, Iron, Amino Acids and Phosphorus. Choline is an important nutrient for the brain. Also, since they are filling, they may also help reduce weight.
Eggs are probably the most versatile ingredient to include in your diet. Plus, they are easily available all-round the year and are inexpensive. You can have them poached or boiled, or even scrambled. You can make an omelette in your waffle maker with eggs and, include them as an ingredient in your pancakes or wraps.
- Leafy Vegetables
Leafy Vegetables have been a part of our diet for centuries now. Our ancestors knew just how good leafy vegetables are for our health. They are an excellent source of various nutrients like Zinc, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Fiber, etc. They also contain anti-inflammatory compounds known as carotenoids. Carotenoids supposedly protect against certain types of cancer. No wonder our parents continuously tried to convince us to eat our ‘greens’. The importance of leafy vegetables is still valid today.
Some of the commonly available leafy vegetables are Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Fenugreek, etc. You can include them in salads or sauté them in little oil. They can also be added to soups and stews.
While all berries differ in nutritional values, just about any edible berry can be termed a ‘Superfood. Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cranberries, etc. are all low-calorie berries that are high in fiber and packed with anti-oxidants that help fight against free radicals, inflammation and heart diseases. Strawberries are a rich source of Vitamin C while Blueberries have anthocyanin in abundance. Studies suggest it can improve cognitive function.
When berries are not in season, you can buy frozen berries from your local stores. Add them cereals, salads, smoothies and yogurt. Berries are naturally sweet so you can also eat them plain for a quick and healthy snack.There isn’t a single food item or food category that holds the key to good health or preventing disease. Superfoods cannot be your ‘one-stop-shop’ for nutrients that are required to lead a healthy life. However, since they contain many health benefits, you can definitely include Superfoods in your daily diet to improve your health.