The new greener, more health-conscious public has adapted the term “superfood” as one of its more common buzzwords. While this might sound like a food item attached to another food (like the turducken), it’s essentially the opposite: “superfoods” are cleansers, foods both good for you and helping to compensate for junk foods you might also be eating. Here are just six:†
1. Blueberries (particularly dark blueberries) are sweet and delicious, but also reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer as well as serve as anti-inflammatories, bringing down joint pain and reducing the risk of chronic illnesses such as hypertension.†
2. Soy (from tofu, soy milk, or soybeans, rather than soy sauce) helps to lower cholesterol like few things. It also provides a convenient alternative to animal proteins (taken from dairy or from meat, which are often much higher in fat content). Though a lot of conversation recently has surrounded soy’s longterm viability, it does a number of good things.†
3. Fiber (from whole grains, beans, and vegetables like spinach) serves to maintain cholesterol and blood sugar, but also can help considerably in weight management, as it helps to convince the body that it feels full for longer than other alternatives. A simple spinach salad with goat cheese and a vinaigrette, served with some fruit, for example, may feel just as filling as something larger. This is an extremely diverse category, though, and one in which you can find fiber in almost anything; get it from good wheat breads, by adding beans to other dishes, and by making your own breakfast cereal, which can often be far more cost-effective than purchasing a box each week.
4. Tea – both green tea and black tea – helps to lower cholesterol and reduces the risk of cancer. The caffeine content of green tea and black tea differs considerably (black teas are much stronger), but there’s considerable antioxidants (perhaps more in green than black) in tea. Furthermore, tea is considerably less expensive a habit than coffee; a $3 espresso drink costs far more than 50 tea bags for $5 or less and the hot water needed to steep them.
5. Fish full of omega-3 oils. In addition to substituting for other animal proteins (which are far heavier in fat and, overall, often worse for you), fatty, cold-water fish can help to alleviate the risk of heart disease, arthritis, memory loss, and depression.
6. Dark chocolate – 60% cocoa or higher – is deceptively low in fat and sugar, but does offer antioxidants, and helps to lower blood pressure, making it a surprisingly tasty (albeit sometimes rather pricy) way to work a superfood into your diet, particularly in place of a definite junk food.