You’ve heard how important it is to “Eat by the Book”, i.e., to eat God-made foods, as close to the way God made them as possible. Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds each day is a great place to start your clean eating journey. But when you’re first starting out, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with sorting through all of the available food options.
A simpler approach is to begin with adding in a few superfoods that you eat regularly so that you can get the most bang for your clean eating buck. Superfoods are the most nutrient dense plant foods available, and are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients.
To help you get started, use this quick reference list of 8 nutrient-dense, benefit-rich superfoods that you can easily add to your daily diet.
Superfood #1: Apples
It’s no coincidence that you’ve heard the popular saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples contain nutrients that reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, high blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes. They also benefit the respiratory system by preventing lung cancer and asthma.
When you eat apples, you’re getting fiber, potassium and antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and polyphenols. Studies show that the real benefit comes from the synergistic interaction between these ingredients. This is why it’s better to eat foods in the form God made them, whole and perfectly packaged!
To get the most out of your apple consumption, eat a wide variety of apples, choose organically grown options, and be sure to eat the peel. According to healthline.com, the skins of apples contain up to 332% more vitamin K, 142% more vitamin A, 115% more vitamin C, 20% more calcium, and up to 19% more potassium than a peeled apple.
Superfood #2: Avocados
To help your body absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat, add an avocado. Fat soluble phytonutrients, like beta-carotene, are more easily absorbed by the body when paired with the monounsaturated fat in an avocado.
Avocados also help you keep your weight down by helping you feel full, but don’t overdo it. They are calorie rich at 48 calories per ounce, so for best results eat only one-third to one-half of an avocado two to three times a week.
Superfood #3: Dark Chocolate
Who’s up for a little indulgence with their meals? In that case, add some dark chocolate to your diet. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols which lower blood pressure and are natural anti-inflammatory ingredients. Keep in mind that blood pressure lowering qualities are only in dark chocolate, but not in its cousin, milk chocolate.
In 2000, a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the effect on blood flow from high-flavanol cocoa was similar to taking a low-dose aspirin. This means that dark chocolate could possibly be used to treat ailments like minor pains or headaches!
Like avocado, chocolate is high in calories, so aim for no more than 100 calories a day.
Superfood #4: Garlic
Garlic, a foundational component of the Mediterranean diet, is great for the cardiovascular system. By eating garlic regularly you can reduce blood pressure, and lower triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Garlic also has anti-inflammatory agents, as well as antiviral and antibiotic properties.
To reap all the health benefits of garlic, eat one clove several times a week. Raw garlic is best, but cooked is good too. Keep in mind that dried garlic and garlic supplements don’t have the same benefits as fresh garlic.
Superfood #5: Honey
Honey is not often seen on many lists of healthy foods, but don’t let that fool you. Eating honey daily increases the amount of antioxidants in the blood, helps to prevent constipation, and reduces cholesterol and blood pressure.
If you are running low on energy, reach for honey, not sugar. Honey does a better job of maintaining blood sugar and energy than other sweeteners. Be sure to choose dark honeys over light ones, because they are higher in antioxidants and flavor. One to two teaspoons several times a week should do the trick.
Superfood #6: Kiwis
Looking for massive quantities of Vitamin C and E that can reduce the risk of asthma, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, and boost your immune system? Then grab a kiwi or two. Dietary vitamin E appears to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. By consuming kiwis, you get vitamin E without the extra calories that most other vitamin E rich foods, like nuts and oils, contain.
They also contain another stellar ingredient, lutein. Lutein lowers the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. To get all the above benefits and reduce the risk of blood clots to boot, eat one kiwi, two to three times a week.
Superfood #7: Onions
Onions have many of the same benefits of garlic. They contain compounds that lower inflammation, and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Try to eat dishes containing onions at least three times a week. Be sure to let the onion sit for 5 to 10 minutes after you cut it open. Applying heat too soon deactivates thiopropanal sulfoxide, which is the substance in the onion responsible for most of the heart benefits. And, fun fact, the more pungent the onion, the better it is for you.
Superfood #8: Pomegranates
Pomegranates are packed with tons of phytochemicals like potassium, which is great for lowering your blood pressure. Studies also suggest that pomegranates can slow the progression of prostate cancer and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Instead of fighting with the little pulpy seeds to get your dose of pomegranate, try four to eight ounces of 100% juice several times a week. Be sure to stay away from store-bought juices with added sugar. For the best benefits, make your own pomegranate juice at home!
And that’s it! Use these 8 superfood ingredients to boost your daily dose of nutrients, and raise the bar on your level of health.
Which will you make part of your daily diet?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ
Founder and CEO, Health Insurrection LLC
Dalila is a native Houstonian and currently lives in Switzerand with her husband and two kids. She received her health coach training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Hallelujah Acres and teaches in-home bible studies and online courses.