Here’s a great excuse to gorge on pumpkin pie, blueberry cobbler, apple streusel, and chocolate-covered strawberries! Well, kind of. Yep, they’re all Greatist superfoods— just hold the sugar to get the most benefits. Here are the reasons these fruits, veggies, grains, and dairy products have made our list of the world’s best superfoods.
1. Greek Yogurt Regular yogurt’s thicker, creamier cousin is chock-full of protein and probiotics. It fills the belly, improves digestion, and bolsters the immune system. Plus, it’s a great healthy recipe substitute for sour cream, cream cheese, and even mayonnaise!
2. Quinoa This teeny-tiny, grain-like seed packs some serious nutritional prowess. With a mild, nutty flavor and a texture similar to rice or couscous, quinoa is one of the only grains or seeds that provides all nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce themselvesNutritional Quality of the Protein in Quinoa Seeds. Nair, BM., Raules, J. Foods for Human Nutrition Jan. 1992; 42(1): 1-11.. And it’s filled with protein— eight grams per one-cup serving, to be exact!
4. Kale This rough and tough green beats out all the rest in terms of nutrition, providing more antioxidants than most other fruits and veggies! It’s also a fantastic source of fiber, calcium, and iron. Prepare it virtually any way, from boiled or steamed to roasted (try it as a chip!) or stewed.
5. Chia Ch-ch-ch-chia! Yep, this little seed is the same as those adorable little ceramic animal planters of the 90s! But don’t worry, the nutritious part is not the clay pot. Chia seeds are actually loaded with the most essential fatty acids of any known plant! Plus, one serving of the stuff is loaded with magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium.
6. Oatmeal High in fiber, antioxidants, and tons of other nutrients, this breakfast staple has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, aid in digestion, and even improve metabolismCan dietary oats promote health? Welch, RW, 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.. And it’s downright delicious— especially when flavored like pumpkin pie!
8. Broccoli This lean, mean, green machine is packed with vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting compounds, and the fiber essential in any diet. Though all members of the cruciferous vegetable family are super-duper healthy, broccoli stands out for its exceptionally high levels of vitamin C and folate (which can reduce risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and stroke)Epidemiological studies on brassica vegetables and cancer risk. Verhoeven, D.T., Goldbohm, R.A., van Poppel, G., Verhagen, H., and van den Brandt, P.A. Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, Nutrition and Food Research Institute, Zeist, The Netherlands. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 1996 Sep;5(9):733-48..
9.Strawberries Vitamin C is the superstar of this superfood. Just one cup of these red beauties satisfies the daily requirement for vitamin C (74 milligrams per day for women, 90 for men)! Studies suggest the antioxidant helps build and repair the body’s tissues, boosts immunity, and fights excess free radical damage. And the vitamin C in strawberries could help promote healthy eye functionEye Sensitivity and Vitamin C. McIntosh, EN. American Journal of Public Health 1982 Dec; 72(12): 1412-1413.
13. Pistachios These lil’ nuts are hiding lots of protein and fiber behind their earthy flavor and nutty crunch. Plus, they’re naturally cholesterol-free. A one-ounce serving of these nuts has almost as much potassium as one small banana.
14. Eggs A relatively inexpensive protein source loaded with nutrients, eggs certainly earn their superfood status. A single large egg is just about 70 calories and offers six grams of protein. Eggs are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for normal body function and heart healthHealth benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Ruxton, C. Nursing Standard. 2004 Aug 11-17;18(48):38-42..
15. Almonds Surprise! Almonds are the most nutritionally dense nut, meaning they offer the highest concentration of nutrients per calorie per ounce. For just 191 calories, a one-ounce serving provides 3.4 grams of fiber (that’s about 14 percent of the daily recommended value) and a healthy dose of potassium, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and iron. Plus, you can eat them as BUTTER!
19. Pumpkin Loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, these gourds aren’t just for carving (or making into pie). The star nutrient here is beta-carotene, a provitamin that the body converts to vitamin A, which is known for its immune boosting powers and essential role in eye healthNutrition 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..
20. Apples Say it with us, people: “Fiber is good.” And apples are a great low-calorie source. (A medium-sized apple weighs in at under 100 calories.) Plus, upping apple intake has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and asthmaApple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Boyer, J., Liu, R.H. Department of Food Science and Institute of Comparative and Environmental Toxicology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Nutrition Journal, 2004 May 12;3:5..
21.Cranberries It’s time to work these fall favorites into dishes year-round. Whether it’s in the shape of a can or fresh off the stove, cranberries have a handful of health benefits and disease-fighting powersBioactive compounds in cranberries and their biological properties. Côté, J., Caillet, S., Doyon, G., et. al. Research Laboratory in Sciences Applied to Food, INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Quebec, Canada. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2010 Aug; 50 (7): 666-79.. These bacteria-busting berries can help fight inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease, improve oral health, help prevent ulcers and yeast infections, and may even inhibit the growth of some human cancer cellsCranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) and cardiovascular disease risk factors. McKay DL, Blumberg JB. Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Tufts University, Boston, MA. Nutrition Reviews, 2007 Nov; 65 (11): 490-502.Potential oral health benefits of cranberry. Bodet, C., Grenier, D., Chandad, F., et al. Groupe de Recherche en Ecologie Buccale, Faculte de Medecine Dentaire, Universite Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Critical Reviews In Food Science and Nutrition, 2008 Aug; 48 (7): 672-80.Cranberries: Ripe for more cancer research? Neto, C.C. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 2011 Oct; 91 (13): 2303-7..
25. Lentils They’re pretty cheap, easy to prepare, and high in protein, iron and other essential nutrients. Need we say more? The iron may help fight off anemia (a condition that’s especially common among vegetarians and vegans), and they’re low on the glycemic index, too. That means they cause blood sugar to spike less quickly than other starches, so our energy lasts longerCarbohydrate fractions of legumes: uses in human nutrition and potential for health. Guillon, F., Champ, M.M. URPOI & UFDNH, National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA), Rue de la Géraudière, BP 71627, 44316 Nantes Cedex, 03, France. The British Journal of Nutrition, 2002 Dec;88 Suppl 3:S293-306..