Top 10 Superfoods - PIH Health

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Published on November 26, 2014

Top 10 Superfoods


Superfoods are “nutrient-rich foods considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.”[1] According to the Institute of Food Technologist’s latest food trends report, consumers are looking for Superfoodshealthier food choices and are more concerned now than ever to find better-for-you or functional foods. [2] Naturally, the term “superfood” has emerged and become popularized by the media and the food industry to market foods that may or may not actually be “better-for-you”. 

“What we eat greatly affects our bodies and overall health. Knowing how to identify the real “superfoods,” is just the beginning to living a healthy life,” says PIH Health Clinical Nutrition Manager, Danielle Halewijn.

What foods should we be looking for? The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research identifies food groups that have been linked to “probable decreased risk” or “convincing decreased risk” of cancers. The most prominent food groups are fruits and non-starchy vegetables, following those are allium vegetables and foods that are rich in folate, lycopene, selenium and dietary fiber. Changing the foods we eat combined with exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent about one third of cancers. [3,4] 

Incorporating a combination of these nutrient dense whole foods into a well-balanced diet may help contribute to decreasing the risk of cancers and other diseases and improve overall health. The key is identifying minimally processed whole foods. Below are some foods identified as real superfoods that can improve overall health.  

The Real Superfoods are naturally low in calories and packed with beneficial nutrients.

  1. Berries – Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries are all loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients and high in fiber. Berries can help control blood sugar and keep you full longer. While all these berries contain high amounts of vitamin C, blackberries lead the bunch by providing the most fiber in 1 cup, roughly 8 grams.
  2. Watermelon – A standard serving of watermelon (2 cups) contains only 85 calories, but contains 30% of day’s worth of vitamins A and C. Lycopene, traditionally found in tomatoes, can also be found in watermelon. Its high water content also helps with feeling fuller and satiated.
  3. Dark Leafy Greens – Spinach, kale, swiss chard, mustard greens are nutrient powerhouses and can be eaten raw or cooked. These greens are packed with vitamins A, C, K and loaded with calcium, iron, lutein, folate, potassium, magnesium and fiber.
  4. GarlicGarlic is just one of the vegetables identified in the allium vegetable group. This group is home to over 500 species, including onions, leeks, chives and scallions. Though more often used as flavor enhancers, these vegetables contain organosulfur compounds that are believed to contribute to their beneficial anti-inflammatory, detoxifying effects.
  5. Greek Yogurt - Low or fat free plain Greek yogurt is tart and creamy. The yogurt is strained to remove most of the liquids, but keeping the nutrients intact creating a food that has double the protein than regular yogurt. It provides about 18 grams of protein in just 6 ounces. Aside from its high protein content, it’s high in calcium, potassium and loaded with probiotics that can help maintain a healthy, balanced digestive system if eaten regularly.
  6. Broccoli – This vegetable is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and folic acid.  Its fiber content helps to keep you full and is available year round, making it an easy vegetable to incorporate into any meal or snack.
  7. Wild Salmon – Wild salmon is high in omega-3 fats, which are linked to reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Our bodies cannot make omega-3s and must be obtained through food sources. In addition to the benefits of omega-3s, Salmon also has a lower mercury content compared to other fishes, which reduces intake of added toxins.
  8. Beans – Beans are rich in protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.  Beans are versatile and can be added to any meal or serve as a meat free protein alternative. Be sure to buy beans that do not have added salt and drain and rinse beans to reduce sodium content.
  9. Nuts – Nuts are a great combination of healthy fats, fiber and protein. Fiber helps to slow down glucose-release so there is a steady supply. Fats from nuts are heart-healthy and a great way to provide long-lasting energy throughout the day. Look for nuts with no added salt or sugar. Many snack foods today tout the benefits of nuts but are masked by being overly salted or sweetened.  
  10. Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes contain high vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and packed with antioxidants. 1 cup of sweet potatoes provides roughly 6 grams of fiber. High levels of fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve digestion.

Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about how you can incorporate superfoods into your daily diet to help your particular health needs.

1. Oxford English Dictionary, online edition. 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014.




The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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