6 Superfoods to Boost Your Health

Now that the colder months are upon us, the incidence of flu and other viruses rises, while dreary grey days drain our energy.  It's time to think about ways to keep our health and energy levels up! A healthy lifestyle is the key.  A good foundation of proper diet and exercise can be given a boost by including superfoods. Superfoods are foods that are particularly nutrient-dense and help keep your body healthy.

Eating a diet rich in superfoods can help protect your health and give you more energy. Of course, you can’t live on a cheeseburger and fries diet, add a few superfoods, and expect to feel great. A healthy lifestyle is all about your overall habits, and that means avoiding unhealthy saturated fats, limiting your refined sugars, and getting plenty of exercise.

Superfoods aren’t a silver bullet, but as part of an overall healthy, active routine, they can definitely give you a boost. Some superfoods protect against disease, some have anti-aging properties, and some do both. What all of the superfoods on this list have in common is that they’re delicious and they’re easy to find at the grocery store or your local co-op’s or health food store’s bulk bin.

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is a chewy grain with a slightly nutty flavor. It’s great in place of rice as a side dish or in salads and even soups and stews. Rich in calcium and magnesium, it’s a superstar for bone health, and it also helps protect your body from stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that’s a complete protein, meaning it provides all of the amino acids that your body needs.

2. Pomegranate

An excellent plant-based source of iron, pomegranate has anti-inflammatory properties and can help protect you from heart disease. It’s rich in B-vitamins and folic acid, and studies also have shown that pomegranate helps your body fight free radicals and can help lower blood pressure.

3. Blueberries

These berries can enhance brain health and even improve your memory. They’re also rich in antioxidants that can help you cope better with stressful situations.

4. Kale

Kale is rich in fiber and in vitamins A, C, and K as well as in manganese. It’s got a good balance of calcium and magnesium, which makes it especially useful for promoting bone health. On top of all that, it even has 2.5 grams of protein in a 1 cup serving. Also, kale is pretty delicious.

5. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have a lot in common with flax seeds, but unlike flax you don’t have to grind chia seeds up to get the nutritional benefits. That means that chia seeds have a longer shelf life than flax meal, and they lose fewer nutrients while they’re sitting in your pantry. Calcium-rich chia seeds are a great plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, and you don't have to worry about mercury contamination like you do with fish.

6. Avocado

Avocado is high in fat, but it’s healthy fat that actually helps fight heart disease. It’s packed with vitamin E for healthy skin and has powerful anti-aging properties.

Bon appetit! Adapted from Becky Striepe's article in care2 green living:  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/superfoods.html?page=1