You may have heard of superfoods. They’re foods that naturally concentrate important nutrients and antioxidants for overall health. In fact, many health professionals emphasize the necessity of superfoods for good health. Steven Pratt, M.D. is one of them. In his book SuperFoods RX: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life, as well as his other books, he details why he thinks superfoods are so important.
Pratt, an ophthalmologist who specializes in ocular plastic surgery at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, says he became convinced of the power of these basic foods when he saw the positive results of a few simple diet changes in his patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration—a leading cause of blindness.
“Whether you’re trying to prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, cancer, or cardiovascular disease, the same type of preventive dietary measures apply,” Pratt says. “The whole body is connected: a healthy heart equals healthy eyes and healthy skin. You’ll hear about all these special diets for special health needs, but really, the same diet and the same lifestyle choices prevent the same diseases. With rare exceptions, you don’t need 20 different preventive modalities—just one really good diet.”
And that “one really good diet,” Pratt says, should be founded on superfoods, including blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, spinach, green or black tea, tomatoes, probiotic-rich yogurt and walnuts.
“For example,” says Pratt, “blueberries, broccoli and tomatoes have a large number of peer-reviewed published studies substantiating their health benefits. These foods are readily available, inexpensive and have other benefits, such as high fiber content. And they've been used for years, with no drawbacks, side effects or toxicity; you're never going to see a headline that blueberries are bad for you."
Broccoli, too, is a superfood star. It’s rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant linked with a reduced risk of a number of cancers. “The phytonutrients in broccoli help detoxify carcinogens found in the environment,” says Pratt. “They also have anti-inflammatory properties, and we know that an important factor in reducing the risk of disease is to support healthy inflammation levels.”
Likewise, Bonnie Minsky, a licensed and certified Nutrition Specialist, Public Health educator and certified menopause educator with a private practice in Northbrook, Illinois, outlines her top ten superfoods. Among the superfoods she indicates provide health benefits far beyond their recognized nutritional value are: pomegranates, cinnamon, avocados, algae, flaxseeds, turmeric and wild salmon.
And let’s not forget about coconuts. Coconuts are superfoods packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and ultra-healthy, medium-chain fatty acids.
Even typical holiday foods make the superfood list—so there’s no excuse to not eat them. For example, cranberries are full of antioxidants, including vitamin C and others. Likewise, sweet potatoes are high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese.
In short, superfoods can mean a super you!