There are 14 superfoods that may help you to improve your health as well as lose weight, which is good news for anyone on a weight loss program.
Dr Stephen Pratt, an ophthalmologist and surgeon from California wrote a book in 2004 called “Superfoods: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life”.
The premise of Dr Pratt’s theory is that after extensive research on the healthiest diets from around the world and by observing his own patients, there are certain foods that confer a range of health benefits on those that eat them.
He asserts that by adopting a “really good diet” based on regularly eating these 14 superfoods, you’ll receive the preventative benefits they confer in relation to a host of chronic conditions.
Now they’re not all going to help you to lose weight. But who wouldn’t want the insurance against obesity related diseases such as heart disease, strokes and dietary related cancers that the 14 superfoods may confer?
So What are the 14 Superfoods…?
They’re all fairly basic foods, really. They’re relatively cheap and easy to obtain and simple to incorporate into your diet, which was one of the criteria used by Dr Pratt when compiling the list.
Many of them are fruits and vegetables, which are rich in phytonutrients.
Phytonutrients are groups of chemicals that may confer specific preventative health benefits and are related to the colors of different fruits and vegetables.
Eating a colourful diet that’s rich in red, purple, orange, yellow and green fruits and veg, for instance will ensure that you get a regular supply of these phytonutrients. Most of them are also low in calories and fat.
So here they are then, all 14 superfoods. We’ve outlined their health benefits and made a few suggestions here and there as to how to incorporate them into your diet.
They’re a low fat, relatively low calorie source of protein and are packed full of fiber.
Packed full of a range of nutrients, including vitamin C, folic acid and carotenoids. They also contain anthocyanins, which are the main phytonutrients found in purple fruits.
These are powerful antioxidants that strengthen skin, muscle and connective tissues. They may also prevent age-related decline in brain function. Try a handful in a smoothie or with a bowl of muesli.
Every child’s favorite – not! Kale, Bok Choy and Brussels Sprouts are good alternatives.
Broccoli contains the phytonutrients sulforaphane and isothyiocyanate, which can eliminate carcinogens from the body and help prevent cancer.
A good source of fiber, particularly soluble fiber, which will fill you up, keeps you feeling fuller for longer and can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Oats also release their carbs slowly, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Rich in vitamin C and flavanoids, antioxidants that help to prevent heart disease and various cancers. The peel contains limonene, which may also have anti-cancer benefits.
Also rich in vitamin C as well as alpha and beta carotene. These are carotenoids that are effective antioxidants and help prevent cancer and protect your vision.
Perhaps the least widely available of the 14 superfoods, so carrots, squash or sweet potatoes are good alternatives.
#7. Wild salmon
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids ,which can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and may also have some weight loss benefits. Salmon is also an excellent source of protein. 3-4 servings a week is recommended.
The only complete vegetable protein. There’s good evidence that 25g of soy protein a day can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.
Try incorporating soy milk, tofu and soy nuts into your daily diet.
A good source of iron and calcium, spinach is also rich in the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin. These become concentrated in the retina of the eye and help to prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness.
Both green and black tea contain powerful antioxidants that may prevent heart disease and some cancers. Green tea may also confer some weight loss benefits.
4-6 cups of green tea a day is the amount recommended to confer the health benefits. Tea is high in caffeine, so you may want to try decaffeinated tea.
Contains the phytonutrient lycopene, a potent antioxidant and one of the most powerful of all free radical scavengers. It may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and various cancers such as prostate and lung cancer.
#12. Turkey breast
Skinless, this is the leanest animal protein source. A 3.5oz/100g serving contains 150 calories, 28g of protein and around 1g of fat
Skinless chicken breast is a little higher in fat but a good alternative.
All nuts contain good fats that can help to reduce your blood cholesterol levels. Walnuts are probably the best source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies show that a handful of 14 walnut halves, which is around 150 calories, eaten five times a week can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 15-50%.
Dairy products are a great source of protein and calcium, essential for healthy bones and teeth. Research has also shown a link between consuming 1,000mg a day of calcium and weight loss.
Live yogurt has the added benefit of healthy bacteria like lactobacillus acidophilis, which are important for your digestive health and may help to prevent certain cancers like colon cancer.
14 Superfoods That Really Can Make a Difference to Your Health…
So are these 14 superfoods the real deal or just another fad?
We would suggest that the evidence used to make the case for all 14 superfoods is consistent with the widely accepted healthy eating messages that most people should by now be familiar with.
Whatsmore, all 14 superfoods are available in any supermarket and are affordable, convenient and easy to incorporate into daily meals. They each have specific roles to play and should feature in any healthy weight loss plan.
Our advice would be to try and eat some of them each day whether you’re on a diet or just trying to eat more healthily. You never know, as well as feeling and looking better you may actually lose some weight too!