Fruits, and veggies, and whole grains, oh my! Beyond the grocery store shelves lined with less-than-healthy processed foods in brightly-colored packaging, there are still hundreds of healthy options waiting to be picked up and put in your shopping cart. (Many come in vibrant natural packaging!) They span every food group, from fruits and veggies to grains, dairy, and healthy fats! Here are 26 of our favorites, one for each letter of the alphabet, along with what makes them so super. (Plus a few healthy recipes to help you get super with some superfoods in the kitchen.)
If you’ve spent even a few minutes on Greatist, it’s no secret we’re huge fans of avocados. (There’s even an avocado-shaped piñata in our office!) There’s good reason, too: Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat (which can improve cholesterol levels, decrease risk of heart disease, and benefit brain function), vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), and vitamin B6 (which promotes healthy skin and serves as a back-up fuel) Dietary fat and heart failure: moving from lipotoxicity to lipoprotection. Stanley, WC, Dabkowski, ER, Ribeiro, RF JR., et al. Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland. Circulation Research, 2012 Mar 2;110(5):764-76. Monounsaturated fatty acids prevent the aversive effects of obesity on locomotion, brain activity, and sleep behavior. Sartorius, T., Ketterer, C., Kullmann, S., et al. Diabetes, 2012 Jul;61(7):1669-79. Plus, they’re just darn delicious (kale salad with avocado and grapefruit, anyone?). Just remember not to overdo it — this fruit is pretty heavy and high in calories, it’s probably best to consume no more than about half a fruit per day.
Try It Now: Dark Chocolate Avocado Cookies
Other A Superfoods: almonds, asparagus, apples
It’s hard to beat beets. First off, let’s talk about that color: Beets are high in betalain, an antioxidant that gives them that purple hue and may help ward off cancer and other degenerative diseases Betalains—a new class of dietary cationized antioxidants. Kanner J, Harel S, Granit R. Department of Food Science, Institute of Technology and Storage of Agricultural Products, Agricultural Research Organization, Bet Dagan, Israel. J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Nov; 49(11):5178-85. Vitmains A, B, and C offer additional benefits ranging from bolstering the immune system to helping the body produce collagen Chemoprevention of DMBA-induced UV-B promoted, NOR-1-induced TPA promoted skin carcinogenesis, and DEN-induced phenobarbital promoted liver tumors in mice by extract of beetroot. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Howard University, Washington DC. Pharmacol Res. 2003 Feb;47(2):141-8. A healthy dose of potassium, which is essential for proper organ function, and fiber, which keeps the digestive tract regular and helps maintain heart health, help round out beets’ nutrition profile.
Try It Now: Spinach-Citrus Salad with Roasted Beets and Almond Vinaigrette
Other B Superfoods: broccoli, blueberries, bananas, beans
These little seeds may have gained fame as the base of the 90s chia pet craze, but they offer oh so much more as a superfood. Chia seeds are packed with magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. Plus, they’re perfect for adding to smoothies, yogurt, and pudding. The little seeds can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, which some studies suggest can help the body stay hydrated longer and may improve overall endurance Omega 3 Chia seed loading as a means of carbohydrate loading. Illian, TG, Casey, JC, Bishop, PA. Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama, Auburn. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2011 Jan;25(1):61-5..
Try It Now: Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding
Other C Superfoods: cantaloupe, cherries, cinnamon, cauliflower, cranberries, cabbage
Dates are great for a few reasons. First off, they’re a perfecthealthy recipe substitution for both sugar and or butter in baking. They’re also packed with fiber (which is essential for good heart and digestive health) and vitamins and minerals including potassium, selenium, copper, and magnesium Nutrition and functional properties of dates: a review. Al-Farsi, MA, Lee, CY. Department of Food Science and Technology, Cornell University, Geneva, NY. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2008 Nov;48(10):877-87..
Try It Now: Fruit and Nut Bars
Other D Superfoods: dill, dandelion greens
Eggs are one of the best superfoods because you get a good serving of protein in an inexpensive little package. Just 70 calories and 6 grams of protein, eggs are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help with proper body function and heart health. They’re good for the eyes, too: The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (found in the yolks) help protect the eyes from light and free radicals (and may even help prevent eye degeneration that can present with age) A 12-wk egg intervention increases serum zeaxanthin and macular pigment optical density in women. Wenzel, AJ, Gerweck, C, Barbato, D, et al. Psychology Department, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire. The Journal of Nutrition. 2006 Oct;136(10):2568-73.. And while there’s been much debate about the health of those lil’ yellow centers (some say their cholesterol content is bad news bears), the yolks are full of choline, a B vitamin essential for proper brain function Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Zeisel, SH, da Costa, KA. Department of Nutrition at the Nutrition Research Institute, School of Public Health and School of Medicine, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. Nutrition Foundation. 2009 Nov;67(11):615-23. Nutritional importance of choline for brain development. Zeisel, SH. Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2004 Dec;23(6 Suppl):621S-626S..
Try It Now: Brussels Sprout and Egg Scramble
Besides their crazy-high fiber content, research suggests the omega-3s in these seeds can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease What can we expect from omega-3 fatty acids? Chan EH, Cho, L. Women’s Cardiovascular Center, Cleveland, OH. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 2009 April; 79(4):245–251. Meta-analysis of the effects of flaxseed interventions on blood lipids. Pan A., Yu D, Denmark-Wahnefried W., et al. Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Shanghai, China, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009 June; 90(2): 288-297. It is important to note that the positive effects of flaxseed on cholesterol have been shown to be temporary, meaning they can wear off if regular (daily) consumption stops Flaxseed and cardiovascular risk factors: results from a double blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Bloedon L.T., Balikai S., Chittams J., et al. Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Journal of the Ameican College of Nutrition, 2008 Feb;27(1):65-74.. Add the seeds (whole or ground) to baked goods, oatmeal, or a salad, and skip the flax oil, which may not have the same awesome cholesterol-regulating powers A comparison of fish oil, flaxseed oil and hempseed oil supplementation on selected parameters of cardiovascular health in healthy volunteers. Kahn N., Kreml R., Austria J.A. Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine, St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2008 Feb;27(1):51-8..
Try It Now: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flax
Vitamins C and K, beta-carotene, and resveratrol are the health-benefit stars of this favorite super-fruit. These vitamins act as antioxidants in the body to help eliminate free radicals that can cause cellular damage Phenolics and antioxidant capacity of table grapes (vitus vinifera I.) cultivars grown in Chile. Lutz M., Jorquera K., Cancino, B., et al. Centro de Investigacion y Desarrollo de Alimentos Functionales, Universite de Valparaiso, Valparaiso, Chile. Journal of Food Science, 2011 Sep; 76(7), 1088-93. Protective effect of Okuzgozu (vitis vinifera I. cv.) grape juice against carbon tetrachloride induced oxidative stress in rats. Pirinoccioglu M., Kizil G., Ozdemir G., et al. Dicle University, Faculty of Science, Chemistry Department, Diyarbakir, Turkey. Food Function, 2012 Mar 21.. Resveratrol has made headlines for its potential to lower LDL cholesterol, help inhibit cancer cell growth, and treat cognitive impairment Resveratrol improves health and survival of mice on a high-calorie diet. Baur J.A., Pearson K.J., Price N.L., et al. Department of Pathology, Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Ageing, Harvard Medical Schol, Boston. Nature, 2006 Nov 16; 444(7117), 337-42. A berry thought-provoking idea: the potential role of plant polyphenols in the treatment of age-related cognitive disorders. Cherniak E. Division of Geriatrics and Genontology, Geriatrics Institute, Geriatrics and Extended Care Service and Geriatric Research Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) of the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012 Apr 5; 1-7..
Try It Now: Grape and Ginger Glazed Chicken
Other G Superfoods: goji berries, guava, green tea, Greek yogurt, garlic, ginger
The biggest benefit here comes from essential fatty acids and protein. Those fatty acids (including polyunsaturated fats and omega-3s) may help fight coronary heart disease, cancer, and even symptoms of depression Omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of depression: systematic review of meta-analysis. Block M.H., Hannestad J., Department of Psychiatry, Yale University of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Molecular Psychiatry, 2011 Sep 20.. These little seeds aren’t lacking in vitamin and minerals, either — they’re high in magnesium, zinc, and iron. Gamma linolenic acid (aka GLA, also found in breast milk) also makes an appearance, adding a variety of benefits ranging from allergy defense, to helping treat attention deficit disorder, and even helping lower cholesterol levels Cholesterol-induced stimulation of platelet aggression is prevented by a hempseed-enriched diet. Prociuk M.A., Edel A.L., Richard M.N., et al. Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine, St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre, and Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Canada. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 2008 Apr;86(4):153-9..
Try It Now: Chia, Hemp, and Buckwheat Breakfast Pudding
(aka cape gooseberries or, ground cherries, or husk cherries)
Here’s yet another superfood native to South America (along with goji berries and quinoa, to name a few!). Incan berries are packed with vitamins C and A, iron, niacin, and phosphorous. They’re also high in protein (especially for a berry!) and fiber. When eaten, they start off with a sweet flavor and finish with a bit of a sour twist.
Try It Now: Husk Cherries with Goat Cheese on Toast
Other I Superfoods: ice water
Jalapeños are packed with capsaicin, a compound found in spicy peppers that’s credited with speeding up metabolism and suppressing appetite Effects of capsaicin, green tea, and CH-19 sweet pepper on appetite and energy intake in humans in negative and positive energy balance. Reinbach HC, Smeets A., Martinussen T., et al. Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 30, Frederiksberg C, Denmark. Clinical Nutrition, 2009 Jun;28(3):260-5. This magical compound also increases fat oxidation (so the body can more easily use fat as fuel) Effects of novel capsinoid treatment on fatness and energy metabolism in humans: possible pharmacogenic implications. Snitker S., Fujishima Y., Shen H., et al. University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009 Jan;89(1):45-50. Pharmacokinetic and the effect of capsaicin in Capsicum frutescens on decreasing plasma glucose level. Chaiyasit K., Khovidhunkit W., Wittayalertpanya S. Inter-department of Pharmacology, Graduate School, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 2009 Jan;92(1):108-13..
Try It Now: Healthier Jalapeño Popper Chip Dip
Aside from containing a superhuman amount of vitamin C (243 percent of the daily recommended amount in just two fruits), kiwi is a fantastic source of folate, which is essential for overall cell health. Some studies suggest it may even reduce the risk of heart disease and colon cancer Effect modification by population dietary folate on the association between MTHFR genotype, homocysteine, and stroke risk: a meta-analysis of genetic studies and randomized trials. Holmes M.V., Newcombe P., Hubacek J.A., et al. Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK. Lancet, 2011 Aug 13;378(9791):584-94..
Try It Now: Greek Yogurt and Kiwi Parfait
Other K Superfoods: kale
It’s no secret that citrus fruits — like the mighty lemon — are packed with vitamin C, which is essential for the body to produce collagen (which helps keep blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bones healthy and strong. Plus, they’re filled with the antioxidants known as flavonoids, which may help reduce risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, and fight some cancers Update on uses and properties of citrus flavonoids: new findings in anticancer, cardiovascular, and anti-inflammatory activity. Benavente-Garcia O., Castillo J. Research and Development Department of Natrafur-Furfural Espanol S.A., Camino Viejo de Piliego, Alcantarilla, Murcia, Spain. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008 Aug 13;56(15):6185-205. Citrus fruit intake and stomach cancer risk: a quantitative systematic review. Bae J.M., Lee E.J., Guyatt G. Department of Preventative Medicine, Cheju National University College of Medicine, Jeju, Jejudo, Korea. Gastric Cancer, 2008; 11(1):23-32.. Citrus fruit and pancreatic cancer risk: a quantitative systematic review. Bae J.M., Lee E.J., Guyatt G. Department of Preventative Medicine, Cheju National University College of Medicine, Jeju, Jejudo, Korea. Pancreas, 2009 Mar; 38(2):168-74.. To get the biggest benefits from these sour sweeties, pair with foods high in iron (like leafy greens and red meat): Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, too!
Try It Now: Healthier Lemon Artichoke Dip
Other L Superfoods: lentils, leeks
Believe it or not, it’s the chocolate version of this cafeteria treat that’s touts some serious post-workout health benefits. Studies suggest that this delicious drink provides the optimal ratio of carbohydrates and protein for gym-goers to consume post-exercise. The research suggest that a chocolate milk fix could help improve performance, make for quicker exercise adaptation, and lead to better body composition Postexercise carbohydrate-protein supplementation improves subsequent exercise performance and intracellular signaling for protein synthesis. Ferguson-Stegall L., McCleave E.L., Ding Z., et al. Exercise Physiology and Metabolism Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, May 2011; 25(5):1210-24..
Try It Now: Healthier Chocolate-Blueberry Smoothie
Giant bags of assorted nuts have been known to appear at the Greatist office regularly — and not just because they’re irresistibly delicious. The unsaturated fats in nuts are good for your heart, and some types (looking at you, almonds) can help lower blood pressure and body fat (when combined with a low-calorie diet) Almonds vs complex carbohydrates in a weight reduction program. Wein M.A., Sabaté J.M., Iklé D.N., et al. City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 2003 Nov;27(11):1365-72.. Nuts are also a good source of protein, making them perfect for a healthy midday snack to keep you full longer. While they can be a bit high in calories, they’re also nutrient-dense, meaning that you get a big nutritional bang for your calorie buck!
Try It Now: Fruit and Nut Bars
By now, the whole “whole-grains” thing is burned into all of our brains, right? Good news: Oatmeal, that unassuming, easy, delicious breakfast staple is a great source of whole grains. It’s that “whole” part that makes oatmeal a great source of fiber, which has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol, aid in digestion, and improve metabolism Can dietary oats promote health? Welch R.W. Human Nutrition Research Group, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK. British Journal of Biomedical Science, 1994 Sep;51(3):260-70.. While those instant oatmeal packets are certainly convenient, we recommend making your own at home to cut out any unnecessary sugar or additives (and so you can customize to your liking).
Try It Now: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
This superfood goes way beyond the standard pie — you can enjoy its health benefits in oatmeal (see recipe above), roasted and served in a salad, or in baked goods. The orange flesh of these Fall favorites is rich in antioxidants and vitamins including beta-carotene (essential for eye health), fiber, and vitamin K (which may reduce risk for some types of cancer) Nutrition and retinal degenerations. Berson E.L. Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA. International Ophthalmology Clinics, 2000 Fall;40(4):93-111. Dietary vitamin K intake in relation to cancer incidence and mortality: results from the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg). Nimptsch, K., Rohrmann, S., Kaaks, R.. Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010 May;91(5):1348-58.. But don’t stop with the actual meaty part of this gourd — the seeds are healthy, too. One ounce (about 140 seeds) is packed with protein, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, and studies suggest pumpkin seeds could help prevent enlargement of the prostate gland, lower the risk of bladder stones, and help prevent depression Pumpkin seed oil and phytosterol-F can block testosterone/prazosin-induced prostate growth in rats. Tsai, Ys., Yong, Y.C., Cheng, J.T., et al. Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Urology, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan Taiwan. Urologia Internationalis, 2006;77(3):269-74. The effect of pumpkin seeds on oxalcrystalluria and urinary compositions of children in hyperendemic area. Suphakarn, V.S., Yamnon, C., Ngunboonsri, P. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1987 Jan;45(1):115-21. The effect of pumpkin seeds snack on inhibitors and promoters of urolithiasis in Thai adolescents. Suphiphat, V., Morjaroen, N., Pukboonme, I., et al. Division of Experimental Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 1993 Sep;76(9):487-93. The treatment of depression in general practice: a comparison of L-tryptophan, amitriptyline, and a combination of L-tryptophan and amitriptyline with placebo. Thomson, J., Rankin, H., Ashcroft, G.W. Psychological Medicine, 1982 Nov;12(4):731-51..
Try It Now: Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding
Other P Superfoods: pineapple, pomegranate, pistachios
It may look like rice or couscous, but this mildly nutty, grain-like staple is actually a seed related to green leafy vegetables like kale and Swiss chard. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is one of the only grains or seeds that provide the nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce themselves Nutritional Quality of the Protein in Quinoa Seeds. Nair, BM,, Raules, J. Foods for Human Nutrition Jan. 1992; 42(1): 1-11..
Try It Now: Quinoa Apple Cake
These peppery, crunchy little beauties come in a few varieties, from white (also called daikon), to red, to (wait for it) watermelon! Some studies suggest certain compounds in radishes may be able to help stop the growth of some cancers (including breast cancer) Radish (Raphanus sativus L. leaf) ethanol extract inhibits protein and mRNA expression of ErbB(2) and ErbB(3) in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells. Kim W.K., Kim J.H., Jeong da H., et al. Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Dankook University, Gyeonggi, Korea. Nutrition Research and Practice, 2011 Aug;5(4):288-93.. More research suggests another compound found in radishes, anthocyanins (also found in cherries), may help prevent some cancers and even aid in muscle recovery after a tough workout (though this research is based on anthocyanins in cherries, not radishes) Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Howatson G., McHugh M.P., Hill J.A., et al. School of Psychology and Sport Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 2010 Dec;20(6):843-52. Structure-function relationships of anthocyanins from various anthocyanin-rich extracts on the inhibition of colon cancer cell growth. Jing P., Bomser J.A., Schwartz S.L., et al. Department of Food Science and Technology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008 Oct 22;56(20):9391-9..
Try It Now: Fresh Snap Pea and Radish Salad
There’s nothing fishy about the health benefits of this seafaring superfood. Salmon is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which studies suggest can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease Fatty fish, marine omega-3 fatty acids, and incidence of heart failure. Levitan E., Wolk A., Mittleman M. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010 June; 64(6): 587-594.. Those trusty Omega-3s may also help protect skin from UV-induced damage Eicosapentaenoic acid inhibits UV-induced MMO-1 expression in human dermal fibrobalsts. Kim H.H., Shin C.M., Park C.H., et al. Department of Dermatology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. Journal of Lipid Research, 2005 Aug;46(8):1712-20..
Try It Now: Baked Salmon with Avocado-Dill Yogurt
Other S Superfoods: spinach, strawberries
Tea is undoubtedly one of the go-to beverages in the Greatist office, and it’s this ancient tonic’s health benefits that keep us steeping more and more! From boosting endurance to reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues and (potentially) a bunch of cancers (including breast, colon, skin, and lung, to name a few), tea leaves are a great way to stay hydrated and healthy at the same time. Plus, some research suggests green tea could help prevent some types of skin cancer, while black tea may help cure those annoying sunburns Green tea prevents non-melanoma skin cancer by enhancing DNA repair. Katiyar S.K. Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Birmingham, AL. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 2011 Apr 15;508(2):152-8..
Try It Now: Green-Tea Oatmeal
Other T Superfoods: turmeric
Ugli Fruit (aka Tangelo)
These ugly Uglis are actually a type of tangelo from Jamaica. And, well, we’ll leave it to you to guess how it got it’s name. This citrus fruit is a cross between a grapefruit, Seville orange, and tangerine — sort of like a tangelo, but bumpier and more lopsided. One fruit contains about 140 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C and about 90 calories. (Photo: Betty B)
Try It Now: Ugli Fruit Smoothie
Good news: you can’t really go wrong with vegetables. Regardless of the variety you choose, they’re going to have at least a handful of redeeming qualities, from high levels of vitamins and minerals to a good dose of fiber. Green veggies are a great source of iron and calcium; red veggies are usually packed with lycopene and anthocyanins; and allium veggies like garlic and onions are full of antioxidants (which can help protect against free radical damage to the body’s cells (and especially the skin) Quantitative evaluation of the antioxidant properties of garlic and shallot preparations. Leelarungrayub N., Rattanapanone V., Chanarat N., et al. Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Nutrition, 2006 Mar;22(3):266-74. The antioxidant properties of garlic compounds: allyl cysteine, allin, allicin, and allyl disulfide. Chung L.Y. Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Journal of Medicinal Food, 2006 Summer;9(2):205-13..
Try It Now: Mixed Vegetable Salad Platter
With just 48 calories per cup and packed with water, this refreshing fruit makes for the perfect healthy snack mid-summer (or any time of year). It’s low in sugar, and high in vitamins A and C, as well as the amino acid citrulline, which help the body produce another amino acid, arginine. Arginine can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease Determination of citrulline in watermelon rind. Romando A.M., Perkins-Veaize P.M. Nautral Products Utilization Research Unit, ARS, US Department of Agriculture, Mississippi. Journal of Chromatography, 2005 June; 1078 (1-2):196-200. Effects of watermelon supplementation on aortic blood pressure and wave reflection in individuals with prehypertension: a pilot study. Figueroa A., Sanchez-Gonzalez M.A., Perkins-Veazie P.M., et al. Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee. American Journal of Hypertension, 2001 Jan;24(1):40-4.. This melon’s also a great source of lycopene, the super-healthy essential carotenoid found in tomatoes, that studies suggest can protect the body from UV rays, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer Dietary tomato paste protects against ultraviolet light-induced erythema in humans. Stahl W., Heinrich U., Wiseman S., et al. Institut für Physiologische Chemie I and Biologisch-Medizinisches Forschungszentrum, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany. The Journal of Nutrition, 2001 May;131(5):1449-51. Neutraceutical properties of lycopene. Waliszewski K.N., Blasco G. Unidad de Investigación y Desarrollo en Alimentos, Laboratorio de Enzimología, Instituto Tecnológico de Veracruz, Veracruz, México. Salud Publica de Mexico, 2010 May-Jun;52(3):254-65..
Try It Now: Watermelon-Lime Ice Pops
Other W Superfoods: wheatgrass
Xigua (aka Watermelon)
Well, we’ve basically said it all. Xigua is just a specific type of the commonly known watermelon, so they have very similar (err, identical) health benefits. (Give us a break! There aren’t many foods that start with the letter X….)
Try It Now: Minted "Xigua" Salad
First, let’s get one thing straight: Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing (though, yes, sweet potatoes are also a superfood). These tubers are low on the glycemic index, meaning that they can be consumed without negatively affecting blood sugar levels, making them a great food to eat for sustained energy. On top of that, yams are a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese, which are key for things like proper production of serotonin, nervous system function, and wound healing Sodium and potassium intake and mortality among US adults: prospective data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Yang Q., Liu T., Kuklina E.V., et al. Division for Heart Diseases and Stroke Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011 Jul 11;171(13):1183-91. Pyridoxine effect on synthesis rate of serotonin in the monkey brain measured with position emission tomography. Hartvig P., Lindner K.J., Bjurling P., et al. Uppsala University PET Centre, Uppsala, Sweden. Journal of Neural Transmission, General Section, 1995;102(2):91-7..
Try It Now: Caribbean Roasted Root Vegetable and Goat Cheese Spring Rolls
Come July and August, zucchini’s a staple on most grocery store shelves. The best part? It can be used perfectly in both sweet (think zucchini bread) and savory (think simply grilled) dishes. This green-skinned veggie is packed with vitamins C and B6, potassium, manganese, and folate. Plus, it’s low in calories (just 20 per cup!) and has a high water content, so it’s great for hydrating in the summer heat, too.
Try It Now: Zucchini Noodles with Leek-Tomato Sauce