Originally from China, green tea is a lightly caffeinated beverage with a wide variety of medicinal properties. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds, which have potent anti-inflammatory effects. One of the most prevalent antioxidants in green tea is the catechin epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. Although many people choose to drink green tea due to the flavor, the health benefits are a bonus. EGCG is likely what gives green tea the apparent ability to protect against chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. In addition to the antioxidants, the combination of catechins and caffeine in green tea has shown to be a useful tool for weight loss in some individuals.
9. Legumes are a great source of protein and fiber.
Legumes, also known as pulses, includes a plant food class made up of beans such as lentils, peas, soy, peanuts, and alfalfa. They have earned the superfood label because they are loaded with nutrients and play a role in preventing and managing various diseases. Legumes are a rich source of B vitamins, different minerals, protein, and fiber. Consumption of legumes offers many health benefits, including improved glucose control in type two diabetics and a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Eating beans and legumes regularly and consistently may also promote healthy weight maintenance due to their ability to improve fullness feelings.
8. Nuts and seeds are full of fiber and heart-healthy fats.
While nuts and seeds are a typical snack amongst people of all ages, they are consumed for their flavor and their health benefits. Nuts and seeds are rich in fiber, vegetarian protein, and heart-healthy fats. They also pack various plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can protect against oxidative stress. Consuming nuts and seeds can have a protective impact on heart disease. There are various standard nuts and seeds, including almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds. Some nuts and seeds are calorically dense, so it is essential to eat them in moderation. Additionally, some types of nuts have been linked to weight loss when included in a balanced diet.
7. Kefir is a fermented dairy beverage that has many health benefits.
Kefir is a fermented beverage typically made from milk containing protein, calcium, B vitamins, potassium, and probiotics. While similar to yogurt, kefir has a thinner consistency and typically more probiotic strains than yogurt. Fermented, probiotic-rich foods like kefir have several associated health benefits, including reduced cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, improved digestion, and anti-inflammatory effects. While generally made from cow’s milk, it’s typically well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance due to the lactose’s fermentation by bacteria. It can also be made from non-dairy beverages such as coconut milk, rice milk, and coconut water. You can purchase kefir or choose to make it on your own. If purchasing, be mindful of any added sugar.
6. Garlic is a nutrient-rich food that has many health benefits.
A superfood that has been used for its medicinal benefits for centuries is garlic. A portion of plant food that is closely related to onions, leeks, and shallots, garlic is an excellent source of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium, and fiber. In addition to its use for medicinal purposes, garlic is a popular culinary ingredient due to its distinct flavor. Garlic may be useful in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure as well as supporting immune function. The sulfur-containing compounds in garlic also play a role in preventing certain types of cancers. Garlic promotes healthy immune function and can be enjoyed for either medicinal or flavor.
5. Ginger is used for not only its flavor but potential medicinal effects.
Coming from a flowering plant in China, ginger is utilized as both a culinary flavor enhancer and its multiple medicinal effects. Ginger root contains antioxidants, such as gingerol, that may be responsible for many reported health benefits with this food. Ginger may help manage nausea and reduce pain from both acute and chronic inflammatory conditions. This food has also been shown to potentially reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers. It is available fresh, as an oil or juice, and in dried or powdered forms. Many people will incorporate ginger into food items such as soups, stir-fries, sauces, and teas.
4. Turmeric is an increasingly popular healthy food.
This ingredient is a bright yellow spice that is closely related to ginger. Originating from India, turmeric is used for cooking and also for medicinal benefits. Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. It has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and is the focus of the majority of research surrounding turmeric. Curcumin may effectively treat and prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It has also been shown to aid in the healing of wounds and also reduce pain. Curcumin is not easily absorbed. To enhance absorption, it should be paired with fats or other spices such as black pepper.
3. Seaweed is a group of healthy foods that offer many benefits.
Seaweed is a term used to describe certain nutrient-rich sea vegetables. It is most commonly consumed in Asian cuisine but is gaining popularity in other parts of the world due to its nutritional value. Seaweed is packed full of multiple nutrients, including vitamin K, folate, iodine, and fiber. These ocean vegetables are a source of unique bioactive compounds that are not typically present in land vegetables. The bioactive compounds may also have antioxidant effects and reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. If you have never tried any of these sea vegetables, you may want to consider adding them to your diet to take full advantage of their nutritional value.
2. Sun-dried tomatoes have a large number of nutritional benefits.
Tomatoes are packed with many health benefits. They are primarily comprised of the antioxidant lycopene, decreasing your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers. Lycopene also aids in reducing the risk of coronary artery disease. Also, one cup of sun-dried tomatoes will provide you with protein, fiber, and potassium, which is essential for heart health and tissue repair. Sun-dried tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and K. You can use them as a pizza topping, tangy addition to salads, or can be snacked on out of the bag. There is sure to be a way that you can incorporate them into your meals.
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber. They also contain beta-carotene, the compound that gives carrots their orange hue. Beta-carotene has been linked to a decreased risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as breast and lung cancer. Another related compound found in carrots is alpha-carotene, which also aids in reducing the risk of cancer. Beta-carotene and alpha-carotene are carotenoids that our bodies convert to vitamin A, which is vital for immune function, maintaining healthy cells, and activating carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes. Carrots can be consumed in various ways, as a snack or as part of a meal. They can also be eaten raw or cooked.