What are superfoods and how do I incorporate them into my diet?

Spoiler alert, you are probably eating superfoods and not even knowing it. 

A superfood is defined as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.”

Nutritionally and scientifically speaking, there’s no such thing as a superfood. Rather, it’s a term created to market and sell certain foods. Even so, I can get on board with it if it means influencing you to incorporate nutritious foods into your diet. 

Before diving into the list of superfoods to choose more often, it’s important to note that there is no one food that will supply all of your nutritional needs. A diet that is balanced and includes a variety of plant-based foods is the best recipe for optimal health. 

If you do a google search of superfoods, you’ll come across many lists that feature similar foods. Whether it be dietitian-recommended lists, or an article straight out of Harvard Health, these foods might remind you of a particular anti-inflammatory diet (the Mediterranean diet), and include mostly plant-based foods. 

The Top 12 Most Featured Superfoods 

Avocado

Did you know that avocados have more potassium than a banana? Most people tend to think a serving size of avocado is more than it actually is: ¼ avocado. This fruit is also full of gut-healthy fiber, as well as a specific anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat, oleic acid

Avocado is actually an extremely versatile ingredient in the kitchen and can be used in: 

Sometimes, there’s just no better way to enjoy avocado than on a salad or piece of toast. Learn how to cut avocado slices the right way in this cooking tutorial video

chocolate-avocado-cookies---fitliving-eats-by-carly-paige-featured

Berries

Known for being a low-sugar fruit, berries are an excellent source of antioxidants. Consuming berries on a regular basis can help fight anti-aging, various diseases, and improve heart health

Enjoy berries in these: 

Cruciferous Vegetables

This family is a little off putting at first, but the health benefits are some to write home about. Cruciferous vegetables include: kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, arugula and bok choy. Do you notice anything that these all have in common? Maybe their particular smell? That sulfurous compound, known as glucosinolates, have been specifically linked to helping prevent and fight against certain cancers

Incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your cooking with these recipes: 

broccoli tofu stir fry overhead plated photo

Dark Leafy Greens

rich in vitamin A and C, dark leafy greens are full of anti-inflammatory nutrients. They are a true “longevity” food and if possible, should be added to your diet on a regular basis. 

Here are a few ways to enjoy dark leafy greens: 

Garlic

You might not have given this one much thought, but garlic is more than just a way to add flavor while cooking. Having been used for its medicinal benefits in years past, garlic is useful for supporting immune function. 

Try these Grilled Vegetables with a Garlic Herb Dipping Oil for an extra dose of this nutritious ingredient. 

Ginger

One that doesn’t need an introduction, ginger is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also a fantastic tummy soother and nausea remedy. 

Try using fresh ginger in: 

Green Tea

A mild caffeine stimulant that is known for creating a “calm energy”, green tea is rich in antioxidants. When consumed regularly, green tea can help protect against chronic diseases, and can aid in healthy weight management

To enjoy the benefits of green tea, brew a cup of hot tea, add matcha powder to your smoothie, or make an iced latte with matcha powder and a drizzle of honey in your preferred unsweetened milk. 

Legumes

A source of both protein and carbohydrates, legumes are the holy grail of plant-based proteins. They are full of B vitamins and fiber, and can help with healthy weight management, as the high amount of fiber creates a feeling of fullness. 

Check out these high-protein recipes that feature these superfoods (beans): 

Nuts/Seeds

Also a good source of plant-based protein, nuts are a delicious way to add crunch to your meals. A little bit can go a long way, since they are full of healthy fats, so be mindful of how much you consume in one sitting. 

Here are a variety of ways to add nuts/seeds into your diet: 

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

Olive Oil

A good source of vitamin E, polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids. Quality olive oils are cold-pressed and have a delicate olive flavor to it. Extra virgin olive oil is actually sensitive to heat, so I recommend using it in homemade dressings and for a light saute. 

Try it out in this Antipasto Italian Mason Jar Salad recipe. 

Probiotic-Rich Foods

Gut health is all the rage now, and for a good reason. Many of the ways our bodies function for optimal health is linked back to the gut – hormone production, the immune system, and digestive functionality. Probiotics contain gut healthy bacteria to help balance the good bacteria and weed out the bad, helping you feel your best. 

Boost your probiotic intake with these recipes: 

pbj overnight oats recipe - FitLiving Eats by Carly Paige - feat

Salmon

Just a salmon dinner a week will do your body good. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, working to reduce overall inflammation in the body. The key to delicious salmon is to not overcook it. Dry salmon tends to be fishier in taste, whereas moist, perfectly cooked salmon is actually quite mild. 

Try this foolproof way to make salmon with these Perfectly Cooked Salmon & Asparagus Parchment Packs

Turmeric

Perhaps one of the most well-known superfoods for last, turmeric has quite the spotlight on it when talking about anti-inflammatory foods. Curcumin, the active component of turmeric is where the real magic is. To reap the most benefits, it’s recommended to take a curcumin supplement, however, it doesn’t hurt to include turmeric in your foods as well. 

Did you know that consuming turmeric with black pepper helps increase the absorption of this powerful compound? 
Try using turmeric in a savory way with this Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower or sweet, with this recipe for Golden Milk Yogurt Parfaits.

-Carly Paige

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Hi! I’m Carly Paige, a culinary nutrition expert and chef who believes that healthy doesn’t have to be frustrating, boring or restrictive. I’m here to show you how through my Simply Swapped Method so that you can feel more energized and confident from within. You’ll find tips for focusing on nutrition in the kitchen, along with plant-powered, gluten-free recipes that proves healthy can be delicious.