The word “superfood” is all the rage lately, and you may very well be eating some — or all — of the items on this list without knowing the nutritional punch they pack. From vitamins and minerals to detoxifiers and complete proteins, these foods are the healthiest of the healthy. It’s time to put down the multivitamin and pick up a few of these foods on your next grocery run. Your body will thank you.
Kale is having its moment in the spotlight, and for good reason. While all leafy greens are healthy, kale is the real nutrient kicker. According to mindbodygreen, this leafy green is chock full of iron, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and K. Add some to your morning smoothie, toss it with veggies for the perfect lunch, or drizzle olive oil and salt and bake it to make kale chips. Trust us, you’ll never go back to boring bagged potato chips again — and this version is actually good for you.
2. Chia seeds
These seeds date back to the Mayans and the Aztecs but have recently gained popularity again. Regardless of their origin, chia seeds are a complete protein and something vegetarians should always look out for, as they contain all of the essential amino acids. As Lindsey Duncan explained on The Dr. Oz Show’s website, they also boast fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Goji berries
Feeling under the weather? Add these to a cup of green tea and you’ll have a throat-soothing drink packed with vitamin C (more than an orange, according to Real Raw Food). Goji berries also pack a punch with beta-carotene, vitamin E, and antioxidants. Warning: Goji berries can be slightly bitter, so it is best to pair them with a flavor you enjoy. Your best bet it to treat them like other dried fruits and add them to yogurt, cereal, or salads.
One of the most commonly found items on the list, blueberries are hailed for their antioxidants. The little blue fruit has one of the highest antioxidant levels among all foods. What’s more, studies summarized by The World’s Healthiest Foods show that freezing them is not detrimental to their nutrient level, so be sure to stock up this summer. Frozen blueberries are a smoothie-ready ingredient; you can also thaw them and bake into muffins or as the star in a banana bread loaf.
Beets can be a little messy to work with (and can turn your urine pink or red!) but their health benefits make it all worth it. This root vegetable contains a long list of vitamins and minerals, but most notably, One Green Planet says that they cleanse your liver and your blood. As far as detoxes go, this one tastes pretty good. If you don’t want to buy, peel, and cook them, try a raw beet salad, or look for beet juice at your local health food store or juicer.
It seems as though there is a new brand of Greek yogurt on the grocery store shelf every day, which is testament to both its taste and its health benefits. If you are looking for the healthiest option, definitely go Greek, but pick the plain flavor. As Toby Amidor said in the Food Network Blog, you want to be wary of the added sugars. With the plain flavor, you will get all of the benefits, protein, and good-for-you bacteria without the high sugar content of pre-sweetened varieties. Instead, sweeten it yourself with fresh berries, cinnamon, and honey for all of the flavor without the sugar.
Walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, and pistachios all have their own nutritional impact and all make for a great on-the-go snack — Business Insider provides a good rundown explaining why. Walnuts have high levels of serotonin, the chemical in our brain that makes us happy; almonds are a source of the good fats our body needs; pine nuts have high levels of a a variety of vitamins and minerals; and pistachios help lower LDL cholesterol. Throw them all together and you have yourself a superfood-packed snack. You could also add goji berries, oats, and honey for a homemade granola.
This 100% whole-wheat grain can be overshadowed by the quinoa craze that is sweeping the nation, but it deserves its own glory. This fiber-rich grain, SFGates says, has protein, iron, and vitamin B-6, and is a great substitution for rice. Add it to soups as a nutritious thickener or make a homemade tabbouleh. Alternatively, treat it like oats and eat it for breakfast, with berries on top.
A high-fat food that is good for you? Yes, it’s true! Besides good fats, The World’s Healthiest Foods notes that avocados have lutein, folate, and vitamin E, all of which help prevent heart disease and cancer. (Moral of the story is to keep eating guacamole.) Avocados are also a great sandwich addition: swap them for mayo or add them to a traditional caprese salad for a fun twist.
Next time you’re out to dinner, don’t shove this green vegetable to the side of your plate. While we may be destined to hate it as a kid, it is time to give broccoli the space it deserves. Greatist says it has the highest level of vitamin C among vegetables, contains detoxing principles, and harbors some cancer prevention properties, so give broccoli a chance the next time it shows up on your plate. Better yet, roast it at home with extra virgin olive oil and garlic for a tasty side dish.