By Eileen Ferrer, Skinny Gene Nutritionist
When I imagine a superfood, I think of a piece of bright green broccoli with a flowing white cape, flying in the air looking for junk food bad guys.
However, I have a huge imagination, and I may take the word a little too literal. But this term superfood is used quite often to describe a food that is high in nutrients, and is very beneficial to your health. There are a variety of superfoods that possess vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
In the spirit of Independence Day, we celebrate this July with red, white, and blue in mind.
Starting with the red superfoods. Many red fruits and vegetables contain an antioxidant called lycopene that gives them that vibrant red color. Lycopene has been shown to reduce the risks of some cancers, heart disease, and age-related eye problems, as well as help with increasing the skin’s natural SPF. Lycopene-rich fruits are watermelon and tomatoes, both refreshing juicy fruits that are great for a summer salad. Raspberries are also the perfect summer berry. They are a good source of vitamin K, which helps blood clot when we get a nasty cut, and is full of dietary fiber. But if you are craving something with a little heat, eat hot peppers. Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which gives peppers their heat. Capsaicin stimulates the mucous membranes in the nose and respiratory tract, which also stimulates drainage, and clears out congestion.
The white superfoods are just as good. An amazing vegetable cauliflower is full of vitamin C and vitamin K. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and is necessary for growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body. It can be eaten uncooked with tasty hummus, in a stir fry or as a delicious alternative to mashed potatoes; it is very versatile and super nutritious. How about adding some tofu in to that stir fry mix? Tofu, which is made from soybeans, is an alternative to meat protein. Tofu is another one of those versatile foods. It can be baked, grilled, sautéed with veggies, and even added to smoothies for an extra protein kick. Tofu definitely lacks the saturated fat and cholesterol that animal proteins contain. Plain yogurt also makes the cut for being a superfood. It contains probiotic bacteria that promote a healthy digestive system. Blend up yogurt with raspberries, sweetened with a little honey, and freeze to cool off from the summer heat. Another great superfood is coconut. Coconut water has a high electrolyte content that can even replace sports drinks.
Last but not least are the blue superfoods. Blue fruits and vegetables are packed with beneficial, health-promoting antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and vitamin C. Eating your blue superfoods will not make you blue, as it did with Violet Beuregarde from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie. On the other hand, these tiny blue superfoods like blueberries, acai berries, and grapes may lower risks for some cancers, decrease cholesterol levels, promote healthy aging and urinary tract health, and help with memory function.
These superfoods may not have a cape like I imagine, but they do fight to keep us healthy. Keep the summer going, and eat more red, white, and blue superfoods.