(Featured Photo provided by Marilyn Barbone, https://www.schriever.af.mil)
We all want to live a long and healthy life, however, with the sorts of food we eat every day, it might be hard to achieve that goal now. Often, meals from fast-food restaurants and on grocery store shelves are high in calories and salt, which contains sodium. Sodium consumed in high amounts can lead to higher blood pressure, which in turn also leads to heart disease and stroke. However, there are various foods known as “superfoods,” which is another term for something that is said to confer many health benefits due to its high density of nutrients. Although there isn’t one superfood that can solve all of your problems, eating foods from a variety of food groups can provide you with benefits such as a reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, as long as you watch your calorie intake. Among all of the many superfoods, there are a few that should be noted as exceptionally beneficial for your health.
- Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous Vegetables refer to any vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family and includes a wide range of them such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, bok choy, cabbage, etc. These vegetables have an especially high concentration of vitamins (C, E, K) and minerals such as potassium and calcium for someone’s daily health. These combined with their various phytochemicals can help prevent some types of cancers. Glucosinolates, which are responsible for their distinct tastes, have also been found to help regulate stress and inflammatory responses in the body. Finally, these vegetables are also stocked with fiber, which can help lower blood pressure and absorb fat in the body.
Although red meats such as beef and pork might lead to higher amounts of cholesterol and fat in the body, there are some substitutes you can have while still eating some kind of meat, namely: Fish. Any kind of fish meat is high in omega-3 acids, which have been proven to help with eye problems as well as reduce heart disease. However, while omega-3 can be found in high amounts in almost any fish, there are some other things that you can get from specific species. For example, while sardines have some of the highest levels of omega-3 out of all fish species, it also contains Vitamin D, which is important for bone health, and Vitamin B12, one that isn’t found in many founds but is extremely helpful for keeping the body’s blood and nerve cells healthy. Another example is salmon, which is filled to the brim with protein as well as the mineral selenium, which helps to regulate hormonal health.
Legume is a very broad category that contains almost any kind of bean you can think of: red, black, kidney, and even soybeans. The reason that these legumes are so good is that they are one of the few plant-based protein sources that you can consume. They are rich in fiber and folate, which helps produce red and white blood cells in the blood marrow. Soybeans, specifically, are packed with isoflavones, a substance found almost exclusively in beans that have antioxidant properties and can reduce risks of certain cancers as well.
Although your average yogurt cup indeed has more bacteria than a toilet seat, these bacteria are a lot more helpful than ones you might find in the bathroom. Along with being a good source of calcium and protein, the yogurt also has live cultures of bacteria known as probiotics. Some types of probiotics such as Bifidobacteria have been known to help the digestion process in the body as well as lessen the effects of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, be careful to select yogurts that aren’t pasteurized, as often these pasteurized cultures have been exposed to temperatures that kill the beneficial bacteria. Many yogurts with flavors such as strawberry or banana also contain lots of added sugars. Your best chance would be to get plain yogurt that has live active cultures.
Consuming these foods daily can help your diet in various ways which in turn can lead to a longer, healthier, and happy life. However, do be aware that this article is just for advice and that the best way to find out what foods you should be eating is to directly consult a doctor or pediatrician for medical advice.