What we eat has an impact on every aspect of our life. Therefore, the healthier we eat, the better our quality of life and vice versa.
However, most of us have been misinformed and simply don’t know what to eat.
This is the reason I have created a list of the top 10 healthiest foods. After many hours of research, and results from my own experience, I have compiled this list of the top 10 superfoods.
Top 10 Superfoods
You may be surprised at some of the foods on this list since they are very common and often overlooked. However, all of these superfoods are so healthy that they made it into our list of best super foods.
To find the healthiest foods to incorporate into your diet, continue below to read my list of superfoods.
This tasty fruit is loaded with nutrients, containing 20 different vitamins and minerals.
Below is a list of the most plentiful nutrients in a single 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving:
- Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA.
- Folate: 20% of the RDA.
- Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
- Tiny amounts of Manganese, Iron, Copper, Zinc, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and A.
That’s more potassium than a banana! This is an extremely important mineral that many Americans are deprived of. Potassium helps to reduce blood pressure, meaning it can lessen the chances of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. (1)
This serving contains 160 calories, 2g of protein and 15 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and is completely devoid of any sodium or cholesterol.
Avocados are also very high in fiber. Fiber is an indigestible plant matter that acts like an intestinal broom, keeping your colon clean. Research strongly suggests it reduces the risk of many diseases (2, 3, 4)
An additional benefit of the intake of avocados is that it actually increases the nutrients you get from other plants. Simply adding avocado into a salad can increase the intake antioxidant absorption by 2.6 to 15-fold. (12)
If all these avocado health benefits weren’t enough, it also prevents cancer. One study showed it to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. (15)
Cabbage is a member of the family Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae), making it a cruciferous vegetable. This family of vegetables has been repeatedly linked with lower risks of cancer, partly due to a compound called sulforaphane. This anticancer compound is also what gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter taste.
Moreover, a chemical called apigenin found in cabbage has been found to decrease tumor size in a type of breast cancer. (16)
Red cabbage gets its color from an antioxidant called anthocyanin, but this isn’t its only function. Anthocyanin has been found to kill cancer cells, slow cancer cell proliferation and stop the creation of new tumors. (17, 18)
Anthocyanin has also been found to reduce the risk of heart disease. (19)
It is also an ideal food for weight loss, since one-half cup of shredded cabbage contains only 17 calories!
In comparison to other fruits, cantaloupe has one of the most abundant quantities of beta carotene. In fact, a study shows that it has as much beta carotene as a carrot. (20)
Beta carotene is either used as a powerful antioxidant in your body, or is converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A is very helpful in maintaining healthy eyes, skin, a healthy immune system and red blood cells. The risk of developing asthma is also lower in people who eat foods high in beta carotene.
Vitamin C is one of the most basic nutrients that our bodies require. Everybody needs it, and cantaloupe has quite a lot of it. One cup of Cantaloupe will give you your recommended daily amount of vitamin C. One study found that it reduced the length of the cold by 8 percent. (21)
Cantaloupe is a rich source of organic water, almost 90 percent by weight. This means it’ll keep you hydrated throughout the day which supports normal bodily functions such as digestion and helps you keep a good blood pressure.
As mentioned previously in the article, fiber is important and cantaloupe is another rich source of fiber. Again, fiber reduces the risk of many diseases and is also an important factor in constipation relief.
Like avocados, cantaloupe contains more potassium than a banana at 14 percent of your DA.
Here is cantaloupe’s nutritional panel:
- 53 calories
- 0.3 g of fat
- 13 g of total carbohydrate
- 12 g of sugar
- 1.4 g of fiber
- 1.3 g of protein
- 106 percent the daily value for vitamin A
- 95 percent vitamin C
- 1 percent of calcium
- 2 percent of iron needs
Cantaloupe also contains many small amount of vitamins and minerals, here is a list below:
- vitamin K
Like cabbage, broccoli is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables. That means all the cantaloupe health benefits in terms of cancer and heart disease prevention apply to broccoli as well. So I won’t go into detail on these points.
One cup of broccoli provides over 100 percent of your recommended daily intake for vitamin K and vitamin C, it also contains a good amount of vitamin a, potassium and folate. This is includes 31 calories, 3 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, and 6 grams of carbohydrates. The high amount of vitamin K also contributes to strong bones.
Its impressive nutrition panel ranks it in the top 20 foods on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI).
This superfood was used for thousands of years in South America, the Incas called it “the mother of all grains” and considered it to be sacred.
Quinoa is one of the only plant foods that contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Here is the nutritional breakdown in quinoa in 1 cup cooked (185) grams:
- Protein: 8 grams.
- Fiber: 5 grams.
- Manganese: 58% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA.
- Folate: 19% of the RDA.
- Copper: 18% of the RDA.
- Iron: 15% of the RDA.
- Zinc: 13% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 9% of the RDA.
- Over 10% of the RDA for vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
- Small amounts of calcium, B3 (niacin) and vitamin E.
Although technically not a grain, quinoa is a seed that contains twice as much fiber as most other grains. About 17-27 grams of fiber per cup!
Flavonoids are antioxidants that are found in quinoa. Two of these, quercetin and kaempferol, have been carefully researched and are found in abundant amounts in quinoa. These flavonoids have been found to have impressive health benefits including, anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant effects. (22, 23, 24, 25)
The rate at which foods raise the blood sugar is measured by the glycemic index. Foods higher on this index are heart disease and type 2 diabetes. (28)
Quinoa is ranked quite low on this index, at 53. (29)
Make sure to read the one precaution I wrote in the spirulina health benefits. Spirulina, like quinoa is a complete protein, containing all of the nine essential amino acids. It is also about 50-70 percent protein by weight.
Arsenic toxicity is a global concern. Luckily, spirulina has been shown to effectively decrease arsenic poisoning in the body. (30)
Spirulina’s nutritional panel is remarkable. Below is the nutritional breakdown in one tablespoon of spirulina (7 gram)
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 11% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 15% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 4% of the RDA.
- Copper: 21% of the RDA.
- Iron: 11% of the RDA.
- Also fair amounts of potassium, magnesium, manganese, and tiny amounts of many other nutrients.
This includes 20 calories. Making it perhaps the most nutrient dense food in the world.
Additionally, spirulina is a great source of antioxidants. The main active compound in this superfood, is phocyanin. Phocyanin has excellent anti-inflammatory properities and acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. (31, 32, 33)
It also prevents the oxidation of fatty structures. When fatty structures in the body oxidize, the development of many serious diseases are furthered. Spirulina has been found the prevent this from taking place. (37, 38, 39, 40, 41)
Cancer prevention is another spirulina health benefit. Studies show that it may reduce tumor size and cancer occurrence in animals (42, 43). Furthermore, it proved very effective in the regression of precancerous lesions in the mouth. (44, 45)
Spirulina proves to be very effect in reducing the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. (48)
A single study found that spirulina may treat anemia in the elderly. (49)
The benefits of spirulina are very impressive but one word of caution is – cheap spirulina products may have some toxic compounds. I did some digging and found that the purest spirulina comes from Hawaii. Here is a high quality spirulina powder:
4. Olive Oil
The oil extracted from the olive fruit is what we call olive oil. The amount of saturated fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the oil is approximately 24 percent. Whereas the main fatty acid is a very nutritious monounsaturated fat referred to as oleic acid. This acid may have favorable effects on genes linked to cancer and is also found to reduce inflammation. (53, 54, 55, 56)
There seems to be a misconception that eating olive oil will make you fat, since after all it is a fatty food. However, olive oil contains monounsaturated fats which are very health and can actually help you lose weight. (61, 62, 63, 64, 65)
When you are buying olive oil, make sure you purchase the extra virgin variety as it is the most nutritious. Here is a high quality olive oil product:
One of the leading reasons we grow old is due to DNA damage. Thankfully, many research studies have shown blueberries to protect against against DNA damage. So, if you wish to stay young, eat your blueberries. (73, 74, 75)
One of the most important blueberry health benefits is, improving your memory and maintaining the function of your brain. Interestingly, antioxidants in blueberries were found in parts of the brain concerning intelligence. (80, 81) Blueberries are also linked to the delay of brain aging. (82) Additional benefits include, anti-diabetic effects (83, 84, 85), and prevention of urinary tract infections. (86)
Blueberries are also the most nutritious berries. Here are the most abundant nutrients in a 1 cup serving (148 grams):
- Fiber: 4 grams.
- Vitamin C: 24% of the RDA.
- Vitamin K: 36% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 25% of the RDA.
One cup consists of about 84 calories, which is very low considering how nutritious they are. Feel free to dig in!
Belonging to the allium (onion) family, garlic is similar to onions, scallions, and leeks. Many important civilizations knew about the health benefits of garlic, this includes the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and the Chinese. (87) Garlic has been used since ancient times due to its medicinal properties. (88)
When garlic is chopped, or chewed, a compound called allicin forms. Not only is it responsible for garlic’s pungent smell, but also many of the health benefits of garlic.
Large quantities of garlic seem to lower blood pressure in those with hypertension. In fact, it may be as effective as regular medication. (90, 91, 92, 93) It is also shown to reduce cholesterol. (94, 95, 96, 97)
Antioxidants in garlic protect against ageing and cell damage. This may lower the risk of dementie and Alzheimer’s disease. (98, 99) Studies have also found that garlic can lower lead toxicity and similar symptoms. (100)
The health benefits of garlic are amazing, especially when you consider how little calories come with them. Here is the nutritional breakdown of a 1 ounce (28 gram) serving:
- Manganese: 23% of the RDA
- Vitamin B6: 17% of the RDA
- Vitamin C: 15% of the RDA
- Selenium: 6% of the RDA
- Fiber: 0.6 gram
- Good amounts of copper, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphors, and vitamin B1
In this serving is only 42 calories, 9 grams of carbs, and 1.8 grams of protein. This shows the garlic benefits for weight loss are also great.
1. Ceylon Cinnamon
The spice created from the bark of trees named Cinnamomum, is what we commonly call cinnamon. The compound cinnamaldehyde is the reason for the incredible health benefits of cinnamon, it is found in high amounts in this spice.
Cinnamon contains an abundance of antioxidants, including polyphenols. (101, 102, 103) One study found that cinnamon had the highest antioxidant activity out of all the spices tested, even more than garlic. (104) These antioxidants may lower the risk of disease due to their potent anti-inflammatory effects. (105)
Heart disease is the greatest killer in developed countries. Luckily, cinnamon has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease. This is due to its ability to lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing the amount of HDL (good cholesterol). (106, 107) Cinnamon has also been found to lower blood pressure. (108)
Another important cinnamon health benefit is its ability to prevent cancer. Cinnamon has been found to protect against cancer growth in a study with mice. (116) There is also many other studies limited to experiments with animals that suggest cancer protection. (117, 118, 119, 120, 121)
The compound we mentioned earlier, cinnamaldehyde, also includes antibacterial and antifungal characteristics. This means, it may lessen tooth decay, bad breath and infections.
Keep in mind that the variety of cinnamon you buy is very important. There are two kinds of cinnamon, Ceylon and Cassia. Cassia can be harmful to health in large quantities and is found in most supermarkets. Here is a good brand of Ceylon cinnamon:
Thank you for reading my top 10 superfoods. I hope this list of superfoods steered you in the right direction. On top of being some of the most nutrient dense, they are also among the most able to be used by our bodies. Please let me know what your favorite superfoods are in the comments and once again, thank you for reading this article and have a nice day!