By now, you have probably heard the term "superfood". It refers to foods that pack so much nutrition and good-for-you vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they have a superhero-like status in the health world. Superfoods can reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system and some are even touted to increase longevity or reduce the effects of certain diseases.
One of the best-known superfoods is spinach and its longtime association with giving Popeye all the superhuman strength needed to take on his worldly adventures. He is probably one of the best heroes for dark, leafy greens.
This summer as temperatures rise, look for foods that will keep you cool, nourished and hydrated. The best foods are the ones grown locally and that look fresh and delicious.
Here are a few top summertime treats to boost your health:
Gracing the tables of many summer barbecues, watermelon is a refreshing summer food that is a natural source of vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene, which provides anti-cancer and anti-aging benefits. In fact, watermelon has three times more lycopene than tomatoes. One of the best ways to get the full hydrating effects of watermelon is to eat it first thing in the morning. It will help you flush out toxins and start the day strong.
Summer is the best time for fresh blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and more. They offer tons of color and nutrition to any plate with lots of antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber. While ripe berries usually taste sweet, they are lower in sugar than other fruits.
“Berries truly are superfoods—they are low in sugar, and high in fiber and phytochemicals, with the highest nutrient to calorie ratio of all fruits,” wrote Deana Ferreri, Ph.D. on the diseaseproof.com blog. “Eating berries daily will not only promote vasodilation, but also provide the body with protection against free radicals, inflammation, and cancer.”
Whether you are chopping into a coconut picked from a tree or picking up a carton from the local health food store, coconut water has become a popular summer drink. Its sweet, tropical taste should not fool you—this drink is loaded with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids and enzymes. It’s also high in essential electrolytes: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sodium, making it one of the best drinks to help you rehydrate. Drink it straight up or use it as a base to blend smoothies.
All summer long, you can see sunflowers basking in the light. Their seeds pack a powerful punch of sun-drenched vitamins. Sunflower seeds offer vitamin E, magnesium, selenium and B vitamins. Magnesium helps maintain bone health and energy in the body. Sunflowers were one of the first plants to be cultivated in America, so enjoy this all American superfood snack.
Suzanne Boothby is a Brooklyn-based wellness writer, certified health coach and co-founder of New York Family Wellness. Visit www.suzanneboothby.com to learn more.
World’s Healthiest Foods
Reviewed July 8, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton