Special Report

The Best Superfoods to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

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There is no scientific formula for superfoods. “Superfoods” is a marketing term used to describe foods that are nutritionally dense, which makes them extremely beneficial when it comes to overall health.

Some real, whole, and nourishing foods contain more vitamins and minerals than others. The “superfood” label is often associated with them, and they are usually plant-based foods, as well as some fish and dairy.

Superfoods is such a widely used term that Merriam-Webster Dictionary added it as a word. Its definition is: “a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health. These kinds of foods may also be referred to as ‘power foods’ or ‘powerhouse foods.’”

Sales of foods that are marketed as the answer to numerous health problems are growing. Research from Mintel, a market research firm, shows a 36% increase in the number of foods and drinks that are described as “super,” The United States is the largest market for superfoods, accounting for almost one third of global launches.

To identify superfoods that can help people live a healthy lifestyle, 24/7 Wall St. consulted registered dietitians and nutritionists and reviewed several studies about the benefits of foods that are often marketed as having numerous health benefits.

Click here to read about the 16 superfoods that help people live a healthy lifestyle.

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1. Berries

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries — they are all loaded with antioxidants that can help counteract the oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which can trigger diseases. “Stick with food forms of antioxidants and stay away from the supplements as high doses can be harmful and some interact with certain medications,” advises Kayla Fitzgerald, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Nutrition Rites, a nutrition counseling center in Charleston, South Carolina. Plus, she adds, berries are much tastier than a supplement and you’ll get the added bonus of fiber. “One cup of blackberries provides 8g of fiber.” That’s about a third of the recommended amount of fiber for the day.


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2. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt has a winning combination of carbohydrates and protein that will help keep you full until your next meal, according to Fitzgerald. “The yogurt aisle can be overwhelming so remember these tips next time you’re at the store: Look for more than 10 grams of protein and less than 20 grams of total carbohydrates (this will help to make sure there’s not a ton of added sugar).” Avoid fruit-flavored as well as low- or non-fat yogurts because they have much more sugar.

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3. Leafy greens

“Leafy greens are a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C,” Fitzgerald says. Many of them are also a good source of calcium, which is important for anyone avoiding dairy products. Calcium is crucial for healthy bones, teeth, heart health, and blood clotting. “Don’t get stuck on thinking you have to eat a salad to get your daily dose of greens,” she said. “If you’re not a big fan of raw greens, try throwing them in a smoothie, soup, or scrambled eggs.”

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4. Fatty fish

Fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is a common deficiency, according to Fitzgerald. “If you’re looking to make some realistic changes to your eating habits in the new year, try setting a goal of eating fish at least two times each week.” Herring and salmon, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, can benefit everything from your brain health to your heart health, says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area.


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5. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which is what gives them their red color, Gorin explains. Lycopene may help protect against certain types of cancer — although studies have been inconsistent — and it may help prevent wrinkles by helping to protect your skin from UV damage. The non-starchy vegetable is also a good source of Vitamin C.

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6. Hummus

Vegans often have a hard time getting enough protein, but hummus is one food that offers this nutrient, Gorin says. “After all, hummus is made from chickpeas, which boast plenty of satiating protein.” She likes to spread hummus on whole-grain toast for breakfast — along with some avocado slices for healthy fat, sliced tomatoes and onions for extra fiber, as well as a sprinkling of hemp seeds for additional protein.


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7. Green tea

This is a beverage that’s rich in healthyantioxidants, Gorin says. It helps improve blood circulation, lowers bad cholesterol, and prevents high blood pressure. Additionally, green tea may help with weight loss by helping to boost metabolism, she added. “And when you drink unsweetened green tea as a replacement for sugary beverages, this can help with both weight loss and hydration.”

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8. Pistachios

“I love to snack on pistachios,” says Gorin. “You get the most nuts per serving versus other snack nuts and, most importantly, pistachios supply a trio of plant protein, healthy fats, and fiber to help keep you fuller for longer.” Research has shown that a diet that includes pistachios, which are rich in antioxidants, can contribute to a decrease in cholesterol levels.

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9. Eggs

“As a vegetarian, eggs are one of my go-to foods,” says Gorin. One large egg offers 6 grams of protein. You also get choline from eggs, which may benefit cognitive health in elderly adults. “My favorite ways to eat eggs are in avocado deviled eggs or served slightly runny on top of French toast.” The daily recommendation is 3,500 mg of choline for both men and women. A choline deficiency can lead to muscle and liver damage, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.


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10. Mangoes

“Fruit such as the mango offers fiber, which is important for digestion and for staying fuller for longer — helping to prevent feelings of hungriness,” Gorin said. Mangoes also offer immune-helping vitamin C. In addition to all the benefits fruits and vegetables offer, mangoes may also help prevent the progression of macular degeneration, which causes vision loss, because it’s rich in Vitamin A.

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11. Beans

“These are truly a super food,” says Gorin. “Beans offer plenty of protein and fiber, important for satiation, as well as a plentiful amount of vitamins and minerals.” In one cup of fresh black beans, for example, you get 11 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber. Beans are high in B vitamin folate, which is important for red blood cells production.


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12. Kiwis

Research has shown that kiwis help improve a person’s digestive, immune and metabolic health. They are also rich in Vitamin C. According to one study, the consumption of at least one kiwi a week helps lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and increase HDL “good” cholesterol levels. A separate study has suggested that eating kiwi, which contains serotonin, a hormone that plays a role in sleep regulation, may be beneficial for people with sleep disorders.

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13. Pumpkins

Pumpkins are rich in alkaloids and flavonoids, which have anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties. The vegetable is also high in potassium, a mineral the body needs for muscles and kidney health, as well as for preventing heart palpitations. Pumpkins have a lot of enzymes that increase cell turnover, keeping the skin healthy and smooth, according to the International Dermal Institute.

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14. Bell peppers

All bell peppers — green, orange, yellow, or red — are healthy. They are rich in Vitamin C, A, potassium, fiber, and folic acid — and they have few calories. The vegetables are well known for their high carotenoid content, which is what gives them different hues. Research has linked carotenoids to lower risks of some cancers and eye disease.


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15. Barley

Research has found that the cereal grain may help lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. The dietary fibers in barley, which also keep people full longer, may also lower the risk for developing diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels. Barley also contains protein, vitamins B and E, flavonoids, and the minerals selenium, magnesium, iron, and copper.

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16. Olive oil

Research has shown that olive oil polyphenols, or micronutrients, may play a role in reducing morbidity and slowing down the progression of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as some cancers. A study found that oleic acid, which is a main ingredient in olive oil, may help prevent cancer from forming in the brain by preventing cancerous genes from functioning in cells.

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