The 12 Superfoods You Really Should Be Eating More Of
It’s hard to turn on the TV without hearing about the best new superfood. At any moment, a food we commonly see at the grocery store will suddenly become the new hip healthy eat. We have seen it happen recently with salmon, kale, chia seeds, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar, just to name a few. Yet in our quest to find the best eats to boost our health, we’ve completely forgotten about a handful of nutrient-packed superfoods that once graced our kitchens.
In addition to keeping you feeling good, adding these ingredients back into your diet can help shake up your meals. And since demand is a lot lower for these foods than today’s trendy eats, you’ll also leave the grocery store with a fatter wallet. Here are 10 superfoods that don’t get as much love anymore — add them back into your diet ASAP!
Winter gourds like acorn and butternut squash get most of the love these days, but the humble zucchini deserves just as much attention. Terry Walters, a chef, nutritionist, and author of Clean Food, tells Epicurious she loves this squash for its high levels of fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium. It’s also a stellar choice for anyone looking to shave off a few pounds, because an entire cup weighs in at just 21 calories. Try grilling it or shaving the raw squash into ribbons for a fun salad.
2. Cottage cheese
It used to be a favorite in the diet-conscious crowd but somehow fell out of favor. It’s too bad because, as Men’s Fitness mentions, this dairy is loaded with protein and casein to help build muscle as well as a number of vitamins. Though most people have been skeptical of the fat that comes from eating dairy for the past few decades, more recent research suggests it could actually be hugely beneficial. A 2014 review in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry linked dairy consumption to reduced risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and even tooth decay.
Cottage cheese is a great snack with nothing more than a grind of black pepper or a few sliced veggies. You can even buy it in snack-sized portions. Treat it as you would yogurt by topping with some berries, a sprinkle of nuts, and a drizzle of honey. On the savory side, cottage cheese can be used for fillings, as a pizza topping, or as a dip.
3. Turkey breast
Aside from one decidedly unhealthy meal a year, turkey doesn’t spend much time on the dinner table. Why that’s the case is sort of a mystery, because the poultry is about as healthy as meat options get. According to Men’s Fitness, a 3-ounce portion contains 72 calories and plenty of selenium, B vitamins, and zinc. Surprisingly, it’s actually a bit leaner than chicken.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to buy a whole bird just to get your hands on some of the white meat. Most grocery stores regularly stock turkey breast in the freezer aisle, and ground turkey is a fixture in just about every meat department under the sun. Once you’re ready to cook, try this Mexican-inspired roast from Food & Wine.
OK, so the myth about celery being a negative-calorie food didn’t turn out to be true. But there are still plenty of reasons to load up on this overlooked veggie. This crisp green produce packs a good dose of vitamins K and C, plus folate, potassium, and fiber. And celery is, in fact, a good food to have on hand if you are trying to watch your waistline given its low calorie count.
Of course the best way to sneak this superfood into your diet is to pair it with hot wings (even though it sort of undermines the food’s healthy status). Keep the taste you love, but give it a fresher look by making Michael Symon’s buffalo chicken kebabs with celery blue cheese salad. The veggie is also an easy addition to soups and braises. Don’t toss out the leafy tops either, because they’re packed with flavor. You can chop them up and use them as a garnish the same way you would with any type of soft herb.
This forgotten fruit is one of the most delicious purchases you can make in the produce department and is typically less expensive than more popular choices. Apples, for example, get more attention than pears, although that might soon change for people who like to enjoy a few drinks. According to an Australian study published in 2015, drinking Asian pear juice prior to a night of consuming alcohol can significantly ease hangover symptoms. The study was limited to Asian pears, so more research is needed to figure out if it applies to other varieties. Apart from the potential booze-soothing effects, pears are also loaded with fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
Hearty soups and Indian dishes using these legumes just don’t appeal to people the way they once did. Even beans get more love than lentils, partially thanks to hummus. It’s time to give this food a second look, because there’s a lot of good in that tiny package. According to Muscle & Fitness, lentils have the third highest protein level of any legume at 15 grams per cup. They’re also loaded with fiber, which is good for more than keeping you regular. A whole host of studies have suggested regularly eating grain legumes, including lentils, can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Many ancient cultures used garlic for medicinal purposes, turning to the cloves to treat everything from depression to an upset stomach. Though many traditional remedies have proved to be a bit silly, using garlic to boost health isn’t one of them. In fact, the National Cancer Institute says regular garlic consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of quite a few different kinds of cancer, including colon, stomach, prostate, and pancreatic. To get the full health benefits, Eating Well suggests chopping the cloves and then letting them sit for about 10 minutes, which ensures the sulfur compounds get a chance to fully activate.
It’s almost impossible to find foods that don’t benefit from a little bit of added garlic. Toss a few chopped cloves into any of your favorite soups, stews, and stir-fries. It also plays well with other bold ingredients, like ginger, soy, and vinegar.
This purple root vegetable is a bit of an acquired taste, associated with fancy salads and juice cleanses. In fact, we should all be incorporating this superfood into our diets every so often. Greatist spells out the laundry list of benefits that come packed in beets, including vitamins A, B, and C which help boost our immune systems. The high amount of potassium in beets helps keep our vital organs running properly, and they include an antioxidant called betalain which can help fend off cancer.
So how do you partake in this amazing superfood without having to choke down beet juice? Luckily, beets pop in and out of trend, so there are always great recipes out there to help spark inspiration. This lengthy and tasty list from Bon Appétit is a great starting point.
No need to suffer through a bag of tough kale. All you need is some shredded cabbage to get a healthy boost from your greens. Despite seeming like a bland and nutrient-lacking veggie, a head of cabbage contains powerful enzymes that help keep your body in tip top shape. Just one cup is packed with vitamins K, C, and B6, along with potassium and fiber. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, red cabbage packs the healthiest punch, with high levels of antioxidant anthocyanin polyphenols, which give its purple color.
So go right on ahead and make that Chinese chicken salad. Or shred up a cabbage head to top your carnitas tacos. This superfood plays so well with others that the possibilities of incorporating it into your diet are endless.
Doctors might as well consider chucking the pharmaceuticals to the side and just handing their patients blueberries — that’s the power of this summer fruit. The blueberry is jam-packed with all the best vitamins and nutrients, as detailed by Medical News Today. Its composition helps those who eat it to maintain healthy bones and a healthy heart. It has even been proven to help fend off cancer and other diseases. Bonus: Blueberries aid in mental health, which is more than can be said for most foods.
The best part is that you don’t need to worry about waiting for these miraculous berries to be in season. Having frozen blueberries year-round lets you enjoy this superfood whenever you like, whether it is in your morning oatmeal or being used to sweeten up a light lunch salad. Real superfood tip, take a queue from Gimme Some Oven and whip together a spinach salad with blueberries and salmon.
It is a little unclear exactly when cinnamon became relegated to fall and winter-centric foods, or thought of only as a sidekick to everyone’s favorite fall drink at Starbucks. In reality, cinnamon is a benefit-packed super spice that should make an appearance in our diets year-round. It is full of antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, and can lower blood sugar. As Authority Nutrition explains, scientific research has found cinnamon combats diabetes and may even help combat cancers and the HIV virus.
Clearly, we all need a little more of this spice in our life! Luckily this spice can be found in many entrees, so you won’t be stuck eating cinnamon rolls and other sweets just to reap the benefits. Start with these savory ideas from The Kitchn.
12. Pomegranate juice
Not all that long ago, those weirdly-shaped bottles of POM were the new superfood trend. It has since been replaced by a couple different trendy super drinks — remember when kombucha burst onto the scene? However, just because pomegranate juice isn’t as widely talked about right this second doesn’t mean it’s lost its health benefits. This superfood does everything from help your heart health to prevent anemia to make your skin and hair look great.