Over the years, research has demonstrated that healthy dietary patterns can reduce disease risks such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Dietary patterns such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet, which are mostly plant-based, have shown significant health benefits and reduction of chronic disease.
However, there are a few foods that can be singled out for special recognition. These “superfoods” offer some very important nutrients that can power-pack your meals and snacks, and further enhance a healthy eating pattern.
2021 Superfoods list
High in fiber, berries are naturally sweet, and their rich colors mean they are high in antioxidants and disease-fighting nutrients. How to include them: When berries are not in season, it is just as healthy to buy them frozen. Add berries to yogurt, cereals, and smoothies, or eat them plain for a snack.
These are seeds of a tropical tree and are the source of all chocolate and cocoa products. Raw cacao nibs are a natural superfood which is high in nutrients such as iron, magnesium and zinc. It is also a rich source of antioxidants for our heart. It contains neurotransmitters which contribute to overall health and happiness.
Dark, leafy greens are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium, as well as several phytochemicals (chemicals made by plants that have a positive effect on your health). They also add fiber into the diet. How to incorporate them: Try varieties such as spinach, swiss chard, kale, collard greens, or mustard greens. Throw them into salads or sauté them in a little olive oil.
Peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds — nuts are the world’s most plant-based source of protein. They also contain monounsaturated fats, which may be a factor in reducing the risk of heart disease. How they can fit into your daily diet: Add a handful to oatmeal or yogurt or as a snack. But remember that they are calorie-dense, so limit to a small handful.
A fine source of vitamin E, polyphenols, and monounsaturated fatty acids, all of which help reduce the risk of heart disease. How to include it: Use in place of butter or margarine in pasta or rice dishes. Drizzle over vegetables, use as a dressing, or sautéed.
A good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, whole grains also contain several B vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. How to include them: Try having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Substitute bulgur, quinoa, wheat berries, or brown rice for your usual baked potato.
An excellent source of calcium and protein, yogurt also contains probiotics. These “good bacteria” can protect the body from other, more harmful bacteria. How to include it: Try eating more yogurt, but watch out for fruited or flavored yogurts, which contain a lot of added sugar. Buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit.
These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes, and turnips. They provide an outstanding source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals including indoles, thiocyanates, and nitriles, which may help prevent against some types of cancer.
This broad category encompasses kidney, black, red, and garbanzo beans, as well as soybeans and peas. Legumes are a valuable source of fiber, folate, and plant-based protein. Studies show they can help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
These are high in vitamin C and lycopene, which have been shown to reduce the chance of prostate cancer.