7 Superfoods That Are Nutrient Dense and Extremely Healthy
By Galen Chay
Every time you have a meal, you’re either nourishing your body so that you can maintain good health or you’re starving it of vital nutrients. So it’s vital that you feed yourself with the most nutrient dense foods that are super healthy.
Although I personally prefer to go low carb and advise folks who have prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty disease, hypertension and are overweight with lots of visceral fat to go low carb as well, if you don’t fall into any of these categories I’ve mentioned, you don’t have to go low carb unless you want to. Just stick to a natural whole foods diet which is totally devoid of sugar, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, commercial vegetable and seed oils will go a long way in maintaining good health and prevent chronic diseases.
This brings me to the topic I’m going to talk about today: superfoods that are nutrient dense and extremely healthy. There’s a whole list of such foods but for this article I’m just going to mention 7 of them.
Eggs are easily one of the most nutrient dense foods on this planet. It’s packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
In terms of macronutrients a medium sized hard boiled egg contains:
6 grams of protein
5 grams of healthy fats
0.6 grams of carbs
The vitamins and minerals include:
Vitamin A: 6% of RDA or Recommended Daily Allowance
Vitamin E: 4% of RDA
Riboflavin: 15% of RDA
Vitamin B6: 3% of RDA
Folate: 5% of RDA
Vitamin B12: 9% of RDA
Pantothenic Acid: 7% of RDA
Phosphorous: 9% of RDA
Selenium: 22% of RDA
And no, the cholesterol in eggs DOES NOT cause heart disease as is commonly believed by mainstream medicine, in case you’re wondering. And here are some of the studies to prove it.
A 12-week study from the University of Connecticut involving 28 participants showed that eating 3 eggs increased HDL levels. Increased HDL levels decreases heart disease risk so this refutes the mistaken notion of eating eggs increase cardiovascular disease risk.
In another 6-week Danish study by the Clinic for Preventive Health Examinations in Copenhagen, 24 healthy adults were instructed to consume 2 eggs every day. At the end of the study, serum HDL went up by 10% with triglycerides and LDL remaining unchanged.
Chia seeds are one of nature’s true superfoods. It delivers maximum nutrients with minimum calories and promotes digestion and detox of the body.
Fiber is essential for your body’s ability to detoxify and chia seeds promote bowel regularity because of its high fiber content and healthy fats. They are high in alpha linoleic acid (ALA), a fatty acid which helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It can absorb up to twelve times its own weight in water!
The content of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids in Chia seeds are exceptionally high: about 75% of the fats in chia seeds consist of the omega 3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid (ALA), while the remaining 20% consist of omega-6 fatty acids. Research suggests that a high ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, inflammatory diseases and premature death.
However the omega 3 (ALA) in chia seeds aren’t as readily available to the body as those from fatty fish and fish oil because these fatty acids need to be converted to EPA and DHA (found in fatty fish and fish oil) before the human body can readily utilize them.
Chia seeds contain more protein than most grains and are a great plant-based protein source. They are also excellent sources of many essential minerals like manganese, phosphorus, copper, selenium, iron, magnesium and calcium, but relatively poor sources of vitamins.
Flaxseeds are also known as Linseeds and have been cultivated for thousands of years in the Middle East but it’s only in the last couple of years that it became a popular health food.
Like chia seeds, flaxseeds have a high concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids, plenty of fiber and adequate protein. They have health benefits such as improving the digestive system and a reduced risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer largely because of the fiber and lignans (estrogen-like chemical compounds with antioxidant qualities, able to scavenge free radicals in the body), present in the seeds.
Research studies have shown that the consumption of flaxseeds can lower both total cholesterol and LDL by 9% to 18%.
They are easy to incorporate into your daily diet and grinding them is the best way to make the most of their health benefits as it makes them easier to digest.
Tempeh is a fermented soy product which originated from Indonesia. It has a nutty flavor and can be used in stir fry dishes, curries and lontong, an Indonesian curry based soup with coconut cream, vegetables and bean curd pieces.
It is now found in many parts of the world as a cheap source of plant protein. Other than its high probiotic content, it has other healing properties that make it popular amongst health enthusiasts.
The soy isoflavones in tempeh has been proven to significantly improve lipid levels by lowering total and LDL cholesterol. Soy isoflavones has also been found to improve the bone density of ethnic Chinese menopausal women with lowered bone mass. There is also evidence that soy isoflavones have anti-cancer properties.
Tempeh is rich in niacin or vitamin B3 which has been found to also increase HDL cholesterol, lower LDL and triglycerides.
Tempeh is available in Asian grocery stores, typically Indonesian or Malaysian grocery stores to be more exact. Most large cities with diverse ethnic groups should have a couple of Indonesian or Malaysian grocery stores. It is easily available in supermarkets and wet markets in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
However, if you have Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance or are overweight, you may wish to limit the intake of tempeh because it’s relatively high in carbohydrates at 15.6 grams per serving.
Kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables and is often said to be the nutrition powerhouse of vegetables. Even spinach that’s been lauded as another nutrient dense food pales in comparison.
It’s a leafy cruciferous vegetable that’s chocked full of vitamins A (in the form of beta carotene), C and K plus other minerals, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients.
100 grams of kale contains:
15376 IU of Vitamin A which is 308% of RDA
120 mg of Vitamin C which is 200% of RDA
817 mcg of Vitamin K 1021% of RDA
2 gm of fiber
3 gm of protein
Only 50 calories
Kale also contains copious amounts of copious amounts of phytochemicals which include an isothiocyanate known as sulforaphane and Indole-3-Carbinol, both of which has been shown to combat cancer cells in lab studies.
Garlic is a plant in the allium family and is closely related to onions, shallots and leeks. It is grown in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient in cooking due to its strong smell and pungent taste. This bulb is also incredibly nutrient dense.
It is high in vitamins C and B6, and the minerals manganese, selenium, phosphorous, potassium and calcium.
Throughout history, the main use of garlic was for its health and medicinal properties; the bulb contains many vital nutrients – flavonoids, oligosaccharides, selenium, allicin and high levels of sulfur etc. Eating garlic regularly has been proven to provide immense health benefits.
Many studies have shown that eating garlic can lower total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and blood pressure while increasing HDL which protects the heart and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Population studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast.
One study concluded that high intake of garlic is associated with a protective effect against stomach and colorectal cancers.
Case control studies in Italy and China suggests that consumption of garlic can prevent gastric cancer. These studies conclude that fresh garlic extract and garlic compounds inhibits tumor growth in gastric cancer.
Although the doses and varieties of garlic varied in each study, evidence suggests that increased raw garlic consumption as a whole was found to decrease cancer risk up to 54% compared to eating minimal amounts.
Blueberries are superfoods because they are one of the most nutrient dense foods on this planet!
This fruit is chocked full of antioxidants: anthocyanins, which give blueberries the distinctive dark blue color, hydroxycinnamic acids, hydroxybenzoic acids, flavonoids and resveratrol. All these antioxidants and phytochemicals act in concert to combat free radical damage, oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
The antioxidants in blueberries help to reduce DNA and oxidative stress. In a 4-week study 168 healthy participants were given blueberry apple juice. At the end of the study the results showed that the antioxidant levels of these participants rose and DNA damage and oxidative stress was reduced by 20%.
Similar results were reported in another Italian study where powdered blueberries were used.
There is also evidence to suggest that the antioxidants in blueberries are able to improve insulin resistance, lower blood glucose and combat inflammation at the same time.
In a 4-week study by the Center of Modern Medicine, Russian Academy of Natural Sciences in Moscow, Russia, 42 participants with Type 2 diabetes were divided into 2 groups. Group 1 was given a blueberry supplement while group 2 was given placebos. The results at the end of the study showed that group 1 i.e. the group that was given the blueberry supplement, fasting blood glucose dropped from 143 mg/L to 104 mg/L and C Reactive Protein (a marker for inflammation) from 5,18 mg/l to 2,14 mg/L.
In another 6-week study by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 32 obese participants with insulin resistance were divided into 2 groups. The 1st group was given blueberry smoothies and the 2nd group a similar nutritional smoothie but without blueberries. At the end of the study, results showed that the 1st group i.e. the group that was given blueberry smoothies had a much greater reduction in insulin resistance than the placebo group.
Research also shows that anthocyanin, the main antioxidant in blueberries, protects the heart by reducing the risk of heart attacks.
A UK research study by the University of East Anglia on 93,000 women showed that a high intake of anthocyanins slashed heart attack risks by about 32%.
That’s it for this post: 7 superfoods that are nutrient dense which I would personally recommend that everyone include in their diets.
In my future articles, I’ll share more nutritional and health tips.