Health Benefits Of The Top Superfoods
Superfood is a word we use to describe foods that are exceptionally healthy and nutrient-rich. According to Healthline, it’s not actually a real term. It was coined for marketing purposes to push food trends and help sell products. Even though it’s not technically a ‘real term,’ it has be adopted by the general public and even some nutritionists to group together some of the best and most healthy foods to eat.
So what foods are considered a ‘superfood’ and what are their benefits? We’ve got it covered. In this article, we’ve listed some of the top superfoods — from walnuts to avocados — and all their incredible health benefits. Take a look…
Even though walnuts are one tough nut to crack, they’re among the best nuts to eat and luckily, they’re easily accessible and affordable. Let’s take a look at some of the incredible health benefits of walnuts…
1. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Inflammation is often caused by oxidative stress, says Healthline, and plays a big role in many diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer. Luckily, the polyphenols in walnuts can help reduce this inflammation and oxidative stress. “A subgroup of polyphenols called ellagitannins may be especially involved. Beneficial bacteria in your gut convert ellagitannins to compounds called urolithins, which have been found to protect against inflammation,” writes Healthline.
The same source notes that the omega-3 fatty acids, amino acid arginine, and magnesium in walnuts might also help reduce inflammation.
2. May Help Fight Cancer
Eat This, Not That! found research on animals that shows walnuts could help in the fight against certain cancers like prostate, breast, and colorectal. One study in particular found smaller and slower-growing prostate tumors in mice who were given the human equivalent of 2.4 ounces of whole nuts for 18 weeks, as opposed to those who were given the same amount of fat from other sources. The results found that walnuts reduced prostate cancer growth by 30 to 40-percent. A different mice study found that the equivalent of two handfuls of walnuts a day reduced the risk of breast cancer by 50-percent.
According to Healthline, the cancer fighting properties in walnuts might be due to the fact that they contain polyphenol ellagitannins which can be converted by some gut microbes into compounds called urolithins. “Urolithins can have anti-inflammatory properties in your gut, which may be one way that eating walnuts helps protect against colorectal cancer. Urolithins’ anti-inflammatory actions could also help protect against other cancers,” writes the source. In addition to that, urolithins are able to block hormone receptors the body which could reduce the risk of hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate.
3. Good for Heart Health
Walnuts are among the best nuts a person can eat because they have high amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids which work to improve heart health and lower blood pressure. WebMD points out that a single ounce of walnuts contains 2.5 grams of omega-3 essential fatty acids. You don’t need to eat an ounce of walnuts a day though — just a few will suffice.
4. Lower Cholesterol Levels
According to Healthline, walnuts have been known to lower cholesterol levels which in turn reduces a person’s risk for heart disease. A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and previous analysis by the same researchers found that a diet rich with walnuts could help lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and apoprotein B.
Another study published in 2017 looked at 194 adults who ate 1.5 ounces of walnuts every day for eight weeks. These adults then experienced a 5-percent decrease in their total cholesterol, 5-percent decrease in LDL cholesterol, and a 5-percent decrease in triglycerides.
5. Improve Sleep
A lot of people struggle with sleep. It doesn’t take much to throw someone’s sleep schedule off tilt it can be affected by stress, caffeine, exercise or even too much sleep the night before. Not to worry, a little boost of melatonin should do the trick! If you’re not a big fan of taking melatonin supplements, you can find it naturally in some foods like walnuts. Typically our bodies make melatonin on their own. It’s what sends messages to our brain to let us know when it’s time to sleep, but when we need a little extra help in that department, walnuts can help boost our blood levels of melatonin and induce sleep naturally.
6. Lower Blood Pressure
In addition to being good for heart health and lowering cholesterol, walnuts can also lower blood pressure. There have been studies conducted which have found that walnuts can lower the blood pressure in people with high blood pressure and those who are under stress. It’s also been found that a Mediterranean diet which encourages people to eat more nuts can lower the risk of heart disease. Healthline cites a PREDIMED study of 7,500 adults who were at risk of heart disease ate a Mediterranean diet which included a daily dose of mixed nuts (half of which were walnuts) and found their diastolic blood pressure had greatly reduced. As a result, this suggests walnuts can have a positive effect on lowering blood pressure which can also lower the risk of heart disease.
7. Support Male Fertility
An unhealthy diet can have a lot of negative effects on a person’s healthy, even their fertility! Eating lots of processed foods, refined grains, or sugar has been shown to negatively affect sperm function in men, says Healthline, but eating walnuts can help support sperm health which in turn supports male fertility.
A study of 117 men found that after eating 2.5 ounces of walnuts every day for three months in addition to their regular Western diet their sperm improved in terms of shape, vitality and mobility. Healthline also notes that some animal research shows that eating walnuts could “help protect sperm by reducing oxidative damage in their membranes,” but further research on those details is needed.
8. Improve Brain Function
This one might seem a little ironic because the inside of a walnut tends to look a little like a brain, but we assure you, that’s strictly a coincidence! What’s more important is that the nutrients in walnuts have been shown to actually improve brain function. More specifically, the polyunsaturated fat, polyphenols, and vitamin E. MindBodyGreen backs this claim up with a study conducted by the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities in New York back in 2014 which found that walnuts can have a positive effect on brain function by improving memory and learning skills. According to the findings, walnuts could also reduce the risk or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Healthline also references a 10-month study where mice were fed the human equivalent of 1 to 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day and showed great improvements in their learning skills, memory, and anxiety reduction in comparison to a group that weren’t fed any walnuts. The same source also notes that other human studies in older adults “have linked eating walnuts to better brain function, including faster processing speed, more mental flexibility and better memory.”
9. Good for Digestion
One of the best things for digestion and keeping the body regular is dietary fiber. A lot of people struggle with eating fiber which is what causes constipation and in some cases, hemorrhoids (which are also quite common). Luckily, there are lots of foods that are rich in fiber and walnuts are one of them! “All humans require fiber on a daily basis to keep their bowels functioning correctly. Usually, the common sources of protein, such as meat and dairy products, lack fiber. Having walnuts daily can help you with digestive problems and keep your bowels functioning properly,” writes StyleCraze.
10. Support Healthy Aging
Aging is something that is inevitable, but there’s no harm in trying to put it off! Most people do little things to protect their skin of aging, whether it’s using skincare products, cosmetic procedures, wearing sunscreen every day, or even just a hat in the sun! All of these things will work to protect the skin from aging. But what many people might not realize is their diet can affect their skin as well.
Walnuts are a food that can prolong aging because they’re full of vitamin B which is good for managing stress and mood. “Increased stress levels can result in the earlier onset of wrinkles, thus inducing faster aging. The presence of the B vitamins, together with Vitamin E, a natural antioxidant, helps in fighting the free radicals induced due to stress. This further delays the aging process,” writes StyleCraze.
11. Help Manage Diabetes
Walnuts are special for diabetics because they have a somewhat limited diet, but walnuts are one of the few foods they can safely eat on a daily basis without risking their blood sugar levels. These nuts are also linked to a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, but that’s mainly because they can help control weight (we’ll get to that next), and excess weight increases the risk of high blood sugar and diabetes. A study of 100 people with type 2 diabetes had the individuals consume 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed walnut oil each day for 3-months “while continuing their usual diabetes medication and balanced diet,” and found “an 8-percent decrease in fasting blood sugar.” The results also showed the the users had an 8-percent decrease in hemoglobin A1C whereas the controlled group had no improvement.
12. Aid in Weight Loss
We’ve previously mentioned that walnuts and nuts in general tend to be high in fat, so you’d think that they aren’t necessarily something a person wants to eat in order to lose weight. While it’s true, you wouldn’t want to eat lots of walnuts every day because they have lots of calories, but it’s actually beneficial to eat a small amount every day. Walnuts are mostly great for weight loss because they are fulfilling and can help control appetite.
Healthline cites a study of 10 obese people who drank a smoothie that contained 1.75-ounces of walnuts once a day for five days in a row. The results showed that they had successfully decreased their hunger and appetite compared to those who had a placebo drink with equal calories and nutrients. Afterwards the individuals who consumed walnuts on a daily basis showed “increased activation in a region of the brain that helped them resist highly tempting food cues, such as cake and French fries.”
13. Good for the Gut
Most people don’t realize that the gut has a lot to do with overall health. We also don’t usually think of bacteria as a good thing, but when it comes to the gut, a good balance of health-promoting bacteria and other microbes (gut microbiota) are what keep the gut healthy. Healthline explains that an unhealthy gut can cause “inflammation and disease in your gut and elsewhere in your body, increasing your risk of obesity, heart disease, and cancer.” Not surprisingly, the food that we eat can have a huge effect on our gut bacteria balance.
Walnuts have been shown to actually improve gut bacteria. Healthline cites a study that look at 194 adults who ate 1.5-ounces of walnuts every day for eight weeks and found that their beneficial bacteria increased, more than it did in the period of time when they weren’t eating walnuts. “This included an increase in bacteria that produce butyrate, a fat that nourishes your gut and promotes gut health,” writes Healthline.
Quinoa sounds like a strange word (pronounced KEEN-wah)…it looks kinda different…what’s so super about this food? In addition to being extremely versatile in the kitchen, quinoa also has some pretty incredible health benefits!
14. Full of Nutrients and Antioxidants
Although it’s commonly referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a pseudo-cereal which basically means it’s more like a seed than a grain, but it’s eaten and treated like a grain. With that being said, quinoa contains more vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants than any other grain. These days quinoa isn’t hard to come by in grocery stores and in restaurants and there’s a reason for it! It’s super healthy to eat, is easy to prepare and is the perfect substitute for less health conscious options like rice or potato.
There are three main types of quinoa: red, white, and black. They are all super nutritious. According to Healthline, 1-cup of any of these types of quinoa contains 8-grams of protein, 5-grams of fiber, as well as a good chunk of the daily recommended allowance for magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, folate, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, and vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
Another reason quinoa is so healthy is because it is high in antioxidants, “which are substances that neutralize free radicals and are believed to help fight aging and many diseases,” writes Healthline. The source refers to a study which compared antioxidant levels in five cereals (3 pseudo-cereals and 2 legumes) and ultimately found quinoa to have the highest amount of them all.
15. High in Protein
Quinoa is a rich source of complete protein, particularly for a grain. The secret is lysine, a rare amino acid not found in many other grains, which make the protein levels in quinoa comparable to those in milk. Women’s Health points out that quinoa is also a “complete protein” which basically means it has all nine essential amino acids the body needs. This is much better than other similar plant-based amino acids that only have a few.
“Incorporating just 1-cup of quinoa a day into something like a grain bowl with other veggies or adding it to homemade soup will add 8-grams of protein,” says nutritionist Maggie Michalczyk, MS, RD, to Women’s Health.
16. Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is super important for diabetics, and it’s important for preventing type 2 diabetes. While there are tons of foods that wreck havoc on our blood sugar levels, there are some that help regulate them. Quinoa is one of the latter and it’s all thanks to its low glycemic index. “Quinoa has a low glycemic index, which is a measure of how quickly a food will raise your blood sugar,” says Michalczyk to Women’s Health. This helps lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease because foods with high glycemic index are what contribute to obesity, a huge risk factor in both of these conditions.
While quinoa has a low glycemic index of about 53, Healthline warns that it’s still high in carbs, so you wouldn’t want to eat too much of it, especially if you’re on a low-carb diet.
17. Promotes a Healthy Gut
Similar to how foods like quinoa and avocados have become more trendy in the health world, people have also started paying more attention to their gut health. It might sound strange, but our gut actually has a major impact on our overall health. It’s important to keep it nice a balanced with good and bad bacteria . One of the best things for our gut are prebiotics which are “undigestible fiber compounds that work with probiotic enzymes to become ‘fuel’ for the beneficial bacteria living in your gut,” explains Dr. Axe. The source notes that prebiotics have been linked with lowered disease risk, lower inflammation levels and a better functioning immune system.
In 2016 a study looked at how quinoa functioned as a prebiotic. “Scientists found that both of these pseudocereals (which they referred to as common superfoods) have prebiotic potential and can serve to improve gastrointestinal health by balancing the levels of good bacteria functioning there,” writes Dr. Axe. The butyrate in quinoa gives in the ability to fight against inflammatory gut diseases like IBS, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. It also contains succinic acid which is another anti-inflammatory nutrient that increases gut health.
Dr. Axe does not that because quinoa is high in phytic acid which makes it hard for the body to absorb all its amazing nutrients. The best way to combat this is by soaking it in water before using it.
18. Reduces Migraines
There’s nothing worse than suffering from a nasty headache, or even worse, a migraine. If you’re as so unlucky to have experienced a migraine, then you’ll know just how awful it can be. Thankfully, there is hope for relief! Studies have found that riboflavin, a member of the B vitamin family, is able to not only reduce but eliminate and prevent migraines. According to Chatelaine, it’s able to do this by improving the transportation of oxygen into the cells. So what does that have to do with quinoa? Well, quinoa is super high in riboflavin which means it’s great for relieving migraines and preventing them from happening in the first place.
19. Quinoa is Gluten-Free
We live in a world where most people are making an effort to eat less gluten. Luckily, the options for people with Celiac disease or those who prefer to eat gluten-free are endless. However, they aren’t all healthy. The best way to eat a gluten-free diet is with foods that are naturally gluten-free, like quinoa! Other options are usually filled with refined startches and no healthier than junk food.
Healthline cites studies which have shown that quinoa is a much healthier gluten-free ingredient than other options like tapioca, potato, corn and rice flour as it brings so many more nutrients and antioxidants to the table. While quinoa is technically a seed, it’s treated like a grain but since it’s unrelated to wheat it becomes the perfect substitute for pasta, wheat flour, oatmeal, and so much more. Better yet, it’s totally versatile! You can grind, boil, bake, steam, and even fry quinoa.
20. Promotes Bone Growth
Quinoa promotes good and healthy bone growth and is able to do so because it contains protein and all nine essential amino acids “used by the body as building blocks for the development of muscle tissue and necessary metabolic enzymes,” writes Chatelaine. When it comes to the protein content, this contributes to the absorption of “calcium into the bones and the development of collagen, as well as for the growth factors involved in healthy growth of the bone matrix.”
21. High in Iron
Yet another nutrient that quinoa contains lots of is iron. Iron is necessary for our overall health because it helps our body keep the red blood cells nice and healthy which then assists with hemoglobin formation. “Iron carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction,” writes MindBodyGreen. “Iron also increases brain function because the brain takes in about 20-percent of our blood oxygen.” The source then goes on to list some of the biggest benefits of an adequate amount of iron in our body, which includes: neurotransmitter synthesis, regulation of body temperature, aids in enzyme activity and energy metabolism.
22. Magnesium for Heart Health
In addition to being high in fiber, antioxidants and all kinds of nutrients, quinoa is super high in magnesium which means it’s great for our cardiovascular health. One of it’s biggest benefits is that it’s able to prevent hypertension “through its ability to relax the small muscles that clamp down on our blood vessels.” To back this claim up, Chatelaine points out that research has found that a magnesium deficiency can increase the hormone (angiotensin II) which raises blood pressure, putting our heart health at risk.
It also has tones of other benefits. “Magnesium is important for muscle contraction and relaxation, as well as bone health, and iron is extremely important for your red blood cells because it helps to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body,” says Michalcyzk to Women’s Health.
23. May Help Fight Cancer
Anyone who is a health nut like us knows that any food that contains lots of antioxidants comes loaded with tons of benefits, including cancer fighting properties. Well, quinoa is no different. Dr. Axe explains that there are many specific nutrients found in quinoa that give it the potential to fight against cancer. First up, it contains saponin. While saponin is quite controversial, it has shown promising results when tested on cancer cells. In reality, saponin is the “detergent” that naturally occurs on plants that we wash off before eating. This is why quinoa foams slightly when it’s being rinsed. Despite the fact that they are sometimes seen as an anti-nutrient, Dr. Axe explains that they have “caused cell death in glioblastoma (aggressive brain cancer), leukaemia and lymphoma cells in the lab. Their permeability (meaning their ability to travel through various organ linings) is actually one factor in their potential power against cancer.”
The next important nutrient found in quinoa is lunasin. It’s a peptide with a number of health benefits, one of those being its ability to break apart cancer cells. What’s even better is that when examined through lab and animal tests, lunasin has shown to kill cancer cells and leave healthy cells untouched. “The lunasin found in Chenopodium quinoa is considered bioactive, which simply means that eating quinoa is a useful way to have this nutrient actively operate in your body,” writes the source.
Lastly, quinoa contains quercetin, which has been shown to fight free radical damage associated with a number of diseases and stop the spread of lung cancer. It is the ingredient that makes quinoa an anti-inflammatory food.
24. May Assist in Weight Loss
There is no magic pill for weight loss or trendy diet that will can solve all of our weight problems. There are, however, certain foods that can help us in our weight loss journey by boosting our metabolism and reducing appetite. The trick to losing weight is to eat these types of healthy foods and exercise regularly. A perfect example of a food that not only helps keep us full for longer periods of time, boosts our metabolism, and is chockfull of nutrients is quinoa!
Quinoa is high in protein which is what helps keep us feeling nice and full throughout the day so that we don’t snack on unhealthy foods and helps boost our metabolism. It’s also high in fiber which “may increase feelings of fullness, making you eat fewer calories overall,” writes Healthline. “The fact that quinoa has a low glycemic index is another important feature, as choosing such foods has been linked to reduced calorie intake.”
25. High in Fiber
For the most part, a lot of us aren’t eating enough fiber and fiber is super important! It’s what keeps things moving along, if ya know what I mean! Luckily, there are lots of foods that are high in fiber and quinoa is one of them. In addition to helping regulate bowel movements, quinoa is low in fat and sugar, but contains complex carbs which means it won’t cause that yucky bloated feeling.
“Most Americans aren’t meeting the daily recommended amount of fiber [that would be 25 to 28-grams per day for an adult woman, according to the Institute of Medicine’s dietary guidelines], so cooking with quinoa is a great way to get more,” says Maggie Michalcyzk, MS, RD, to Women’s Health.
An added bonus that comes from eating more fiber? It helps prevent gallstones. Chatelaine explains that because quinoa is high in insoluble dietary fibre, it’s able to reduce the stagnation “of bile and lower the total blood triglycerides, which are two of the major components to gall stone formation.” Also, quinoa is a great gluten-free fiber option for those who can’t have gluten.
These small, but mighty seeds are considered among the healthiest foods in the world, truly deserving of being called a ‘superfood.’ If you haven’t heard of chia seeds before, they come from the Salvia Hispanica plant, which is part of the mint family, and are native to Mexico and Gautemala. They are said to have been an important food to the Aztecs and Mayans. And due to their incredible health benefits, it’s no surprise as to why!
26. High in Fiber
Chia seeds are among the best sources of fiber on the planet—offering approximately 11 grams per ounce. Depending on your age and gender, that’s about a third of your required daily intake!
If you’ve ever soaked chia seeds, you probably noticed how they develop a gelatinous texture. Dr. Axe explains that this occurs because of the soluble fiber they offer, which “can work as a prebiotic that supports the growth of probiotics in the gut.”
27. Can Aid in Weight Loss
Because of their high fiber content, chia seeds may also aid in weight loss. Healthline.com explains that this is because “The fiber absorbs large amounts of water and expands in the stomach, which should increase fullness and slow the absorption of food,” in addition to reducing food cravings between meals.
It’s important to note, however, that no research has yet to conclusively prove this link. The source says, “just adding chia seeds to your diet is unlikely to affect your weight,” but that they may be a beneficial addition to your weight loss regimen.
28. Beneficial for Digestion and Detox
Being a rich source of fiber also makes chia seeds beneficial for digestion, as “A diet with adequate fiber prevents constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract,” which MedicalNewsToday.com says is “crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.”
In addition to helping the body detoxify through regular bowel movements, FoodMatters.com adds that chia seeds “help support your body’s natural detoxification pathways, repair your cells, [and] reduce inflammation.”
29. Lower Cholesterol
According to MedicalNewsToday.com, “Increased fiber intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels,” and due to their super high fiber content, eating chia seeds is one of the most effective ways to up your consumption.
Citing a review a review of “67 separate controlled trials,” the source says it was found that “even a modest 10-gram per day increase in fiber intake reduced LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, as well as total cholesterol.”
30. Reduce Risk of Diabetes
Yet another benefit of chia seeds’ fiber content is that it can lower a person’s risk of developing diabetes. How, you might ask? Because it “slows the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar and of sugar to fat during digestion,” which helps to maintain steady blood sugar levels, says Reader’s Digest.
In addition, the soluble fiber in chia seeds—which gives them their gelatinous texture when soaked in liquids—can also help to prevent spikes in blood sugar levels.
31. Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
In addition to fiber, chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. “In fact,” Healthline.com says, “chia seeds contain more Omega-3s than salmon, gram for gram.” Unfortunately, however, these omega-3s are primarily ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid), which the body struggles to convert into “active” forms of fatty acids (EPA and DHA) before it can be used.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat chia seeds for their omega-3 benefits, but rather that they should be consumed in combination with other sources of fatty acids including certain types of fish—like salmon, herring, and mackerel—and fish oil or algae supplements.
32. Low in Carbohydrates
Chia seeds are a great food for those who are being mindful of their carbohydrate intake, as they contain very few of them. Although nutritional information indicates that per one ounce serving of chia seeds there is 12 grams of carbohydrates, Healthline.com says, “…11 of those grams are fiber, which isn’t digested by the body.”
That means the net carbohydrate content of chia seeds is only one gram per ounce, which is very low, especially when you consider all of the nutritional benefits they provide!
33. Rich in Antioxidants
According to Dr. Axe, “chia seeds are one of nature’s richest high-antioxidant foods.” This statement comes as a result of a recent study out of Mexico, which found that “chia seeds had a total natural phenolic (antioxidants) concentration nearly two times higher than previously reported.”
These antioxidants help to protect the omega-3 fatty acids found in chia seeds from going bad, in addition to protecting the body against free radical damage, and “speeding up the skin’s repair systems and preventing further damage.”
34. High in Protein
Chia seeds are an excellent source of protein for herbivores and omnivores alike! Just a one ounce (28-gram) serving offers 4.4 grams of protein, which equates to about 10 percent of your require daily intake.
Healthline.com adds that they also “contain a good balance of essential amino acids, so our bodies should be able to make use of the protein in them,” making them beneficial for building muscle, as well as reducing appetite, cravings, and the urge to snack between meals.
35. Contain Plenty of Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to all of the aforementioned nutrients, chia seeds are also a valuable source of many vitamins and minerals. For instance, Livestrong.com says they contain niacin and thiamine, B vitamins that are important for “turning the food you eat into energy and keeping your brain and nervous system functioning properly.”
Chia seeds also contain selenium, which “acts as an antioxidant to limit cell damage from free radicals and also helps your body absorb vitamin E,” as well as manganese and phosphorus, minerals that are beneficial for bone health, among other things. And what’s more is that, unlike flax seeds, chia seeds don’t need to be ground to obtain these nutritional benefits, so you can enjoy them in their natural form. Oh, and they’re gluten free—bonus!
36. Beneficial for Bone Health
It might come as a surprise to you, but chia seeds are a significant source of calcium! In fact, BBC Good Food says, “A 25 g portion of chia contains 157 mg of calcium…more than that in 100ml of milk.”
This high calcium content, along with minerals like manganese and phosphorus (mentioned previously), makes chia seeds beneficial for the maintenance of teeth and bone health. Additionally, chia seeds contain boron, which Dr. Axe says helps to metabolize these nutrients “for healthy growth of bones and muscles.”
37. Boost Energy
It is said that Aztec warriors used to eat chia seeds for sustained energy and endurance. In fact, Dr. Axe says “just one spoonful of chia could sustain them for 24 hours.”
While this may seem a little far-fetched, a recent study has found that “chia seeds enhanced exercise performance for workouts that lasted 90 minutes the same way a sugar-laden sports drink would, but without all the unhealthy sugar.” Although this is just one study, and more research is certainly needed to confirm, these findings align with information that’s been uncovered about this ancient culture. It’s no wonder chia seeds are often referred to as the Aztec “running food.”
Sure, they might look a little rugged on the outside, but beets are actually quite friendly when it comes to our health. Not only are they packed with sweet flavor and nutrition (i.e., antioxidants and nitrates), they’re also versatile for cooking and eating. Just think about it, you can eat beets shaved raw on salads, picked and jared, roasted with root veggies, and even pureed into smoothies. Beets really are an all-around power food, and here’s why…
38. Let’s Talk Nutrients
Beets have a reputation for being an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals. According to research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, beets are an excellent source of folate and manganese. Folate is important for synthesizing and repairing DNA as well as helping with cell division and growth, such as during pregnancy or infancy. Folate also helps to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia.
Many nutrition experts actually refer to beets as “crimson spinach”. In fact, beets are similar in nutrition to Popeye’s favorite power food, spinach due to high levels of iron, folate, and betaine.
39. Lowering Blood Pressure
Beetroot juice has been found to reduce blood pressure in certain individuals. This could have an effect on some factors of cardiovascular disease. This is likely a result of the nitrates in beet juice which are converted into nitric oxide in your body, helping you relax your blood vessels.
Plus, according to Registered Dietitian, Julie Upton, beets are high in inflammatory compounds as well as a natural source of betalain and betaine, which helps lower dangerous homocysteine levels in the blood and reduces the overall risk of heart disease.
40. Fight Inflammation
The betaines (pronounced like bee-ta-eens) within beets helps protects cells from environmental stress. Betaine is unique to beets and this nutrient helps to guard cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress while fighting inflammation in internal organs and preventing all sorts of inflammation-based chronic diseases (i.e., cardiovascular disease).
But betaine not only fights inflammation and the chronic diseases that can develop due to inflammation–while it guards the organs from disease, betaine also helps increase stamina. A research study from UK-based Liverpool Hope University, found that beet juice increases oxygen uptake and boosts overall athletic performance.
Beets have often been a staple of a detox diet, and are a great help to your liver. You’re getting plenty of antioxidants from beets and the betains (Bee-ta-eens) found within beets will help your liver better process toxins.
One other thing you should know. The red colour compound in beets known as betanin, is NOT broken down in the body. High concentrations may mean that things are going to be a little colourful at the end of the day (in your bowel movements). Don’t be concerned though, the red color of your stool is harmless and will cease once the beets are completely out of your system.
42. Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is a major problem in America. According to the American Heart Association, almost half of Americans will have some form of heart disease by 2030. That’s pretty scary! So what can we do to protect ourselves? Well, apparently we can start by eating more beets.
Beets contains a “rich source of dietary nitrates, which act as vasodilators to aid in improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure,” writes Dr. Axe. Beets are great for heart health because they have the magic ability to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure because they contain a rich source of dietary nitrates. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that in just one day, drinking beetroot juice can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Another study found that beetroot juice can help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels in people with high blood pressure.
43. Improve Digestion
The best way to improve digestion and cure any inkling of constipation is to eat more fiber. Best way to do this is load up on fiber-rich foods like beets. To give an idea of just how healthy a serving of beets is, Health.com points out that one cup of beets contains about 4-grams of dietary fiber. The fiber of beets is mostly insoluble fiber which is good because that’s the kind that helps with constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulitis. “insoluble fiber keeps food moving through the digestive tract and increases stool bulk, which helps with elimination,” says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, a dietitian and owner of Active Eating in Pittsburgh to Prevention.
Heealth.com also notes that betaine has shown to improve a person’s digestion, but just a heads up, a beet-heavy meal might affect the color of urine and stools within the following 24 to 72 hours!
44. Good For The Brain
Beets are thought to be able to improve brain function because the nitric oxide relaxes and dilates the blood vessels which improves blood flow to the brain, explains Health.com. This is apparently even more important as we age because research has found that the brain’s ability to generate its own nitric oxide diminishes as people grow old, “along with our brain’s energy metabolism and neuron activity,” writes the source.
Health.com backs this claim up by citing a 2010 study which looked at 14 older men and women (an average age of 74) who ate foods with nitrate, including beet juice. Shockingly, it only took two days to notice a difference. Within this short period of time the blood flow to their brain improved, particularly to the frontal lobe which is responsible for most of our everyday functioning like organization, focus, and attention to detail.
45. Improve Athletic Performance
Looking to improve endurance and performance? You should probably start eating more beets because studies have shown that beets may help enhance athletic performance. Healthline writes that it’s the nitrate in the beet juice that affects “physical performance by improving the efficiency of mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy in your cells.”
Healthline cites two studies that examined a group of seven and eight men who drank 17 ounces of beet juice every day for six days. The results showed they were able to workout longer with less exhaustion during high-intensity exercise. Another study with cyclists who drank 17 ounces of beet juice a day found that they were able to improve their cycling time trial performance over 2.5 and 10 miles. According to the source, to experience the best benefits of beet juice and athletic performance, it must be consumed 2 to 3 hours prior to the exercise.
46. Help Fight Chronic Disease
The biggest upside of eating healthy foods is that it keeps our body in prime condition to ward of illnesses like chronic diseases. Beets are one of those whole foods that could help fight chronic diseases because it’s rich in betalains, “a class of potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that battle free radical and inflammation-related chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and possibly cancer,” writes Health.com.
47. May Help Fight Cancer
Cancer is scary, and for good reason. Luckily, there are many ways we can prevent cancer and one of the main ways to do so is by eating a healthy diet and living a healthy lifestyle. To give yourself an extra boost of protection, eat more beets. What can beets do to fight against cancer? Well, they contain high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that work toward reducing the risk of cancer.
For example, betacyanin, which is what gives this veggie it’s bright color, is “a plant pigment that some preliminary research indicates might help defend cells against harmful carcinogens,” writes Reader’s Digest. Beets also have a unique fibre that could help in the fight against colon cancer.
48. Improve Eye Health
Our sight is one of those things about us that we probably don’t think we can do anything about, and while it’s true our diet cannot cure blindness or correct vision impairments, it can help our body’s function to the best of its ability which includes eye health. According to Reader’s Digest, “beet greens are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that helps protects the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.”
The same source also notes that beets contain phytochemicals which can help improve eye health and the nerve tissues.
49. Help Aid Weight Loss
There are several reasons that beets are good for weight loss. One of the main reasons is that they’re extremely low in calories and high in water content. Anyone who wants to lose weight should be eating lots of fruits and vegetables because they don’t have many calories.
You might think that foods lower in calories have less nutrients or substance to them but beets actually have a high amount of protein and fiber which makes them even better! Fiber is great for weight loss because it leaves us feeling full which in return reduces a person’s appetite and causes them to eat less.
50. Lots of Antioxidants
In addition to making them more healthy, the antioxidants in beets are what give them that delicious red color that makes them look so enticing! Not only do these antioxidants make beets visually appealing, they contribute to why beets are good for preventing certain diseases and the damage of free radicals, says Leslie Bonci to Prevention.
The best antioxidant in beets is by far betalain. Prevention cites a 2015 review that was published in LWT – Food Science and Technology which showed that betalin was more successful at fighting off free radicals than vitamin C and certain anthocyanins.
The avocado has become remarkably popular in recent years, and for good reason: the fruit has a remarkably unique taste, it contains “healthy” fats, and it’s packed with protein, something that sets it apart from other fruits and vegetables. Let’s take a closer look at some excellent reasons to make the fruit an integral part of your daily diet.
51. Packed with Vitamin K
Avocado is high in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, starting with vitamin K. A single 100-gram serving of avocado contains roughly one-quarter the daily recommended amount of this unique vitamin, which is found in a few other “superfoods,” including broccoli, brussels sprouts, and dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach.
There are several key benefits to getting a sufficient amount of vitamin K every day. For one, it can help assist in the blood clotting process, making it useful for anyone using a medication that actively thins the blood. Vitamin K can also help lower cholesterol, build stronger bones, and even relieve itching.
52. Full of Folate
Avocado is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals that, together, can help improve one’s health when the fruit is made a part of their daily diet. One of the most impressive benefits of avocado is folate, with a single 100-gram serving of the fruit containing about one-fifth an individual’s daily requirement.
Folate, which is a form of vitamin B, is available in many fruits and vegetables and has a variety of important benefits. It’s been shown to help women during pregnancy, may assist in staving off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, can help prevent certain types of cancer, and may assist with sleep problems, anxiety, and depression.
53. Boost Your Immune System
When we come down with a nasty cold, many of us reach for citrus fruit or another source of vitamin C, which has been shown to help boost the immune system. But that’s a reactionary approach that’s unlikely to help the immune system prevent colds before they settle in. A more effective approach involves consuming lots of vitamin C on a regular basis by eating foods that contain the vitamin in large amounts.
Enter the avocado, which provides almost one-fifth your daily requirement of vitamin C in a single 100-gram serving. That means adding avocado to your daily diet could significantly enhance your immune system and give you the strength to fight off a cold before it settles in and ruins your week.
54. Potassium Power
When we think of potassium, our thoughts usually gravitate towards bananas, the delicious fruit that contains an ample amount of the valuable nutrient. But did you know that avocados actually contain more potassium than most bananas? That’s critical, particularly as research shows that not enough people get a sufficient amount of potassium in their daily diets.
Overall, a single serving of avocado, which is 100 grams, contains about 14 per cent of your daily requirement, or about one-sixth. Potassium, if you’re not aware, has the power to help reduce blood pressure levels, helping individuals with a family history of heart problems, like heart attack or stroke, stay healthy. It’s also been shown to help prevent kidney failure.
55. Filled with Fatty Acids
For much of the late twentieth century, the dominant diet trend involved avoiding fat at all costs. It’s one reason avocados weren’t nearly as popular back then as they are now. It’s estimated that roughly three-quarters of the calories found in avocados come from fat, something that would have alarmed people drawing up diets in the 1980s and 1990s.
Today, we understand that certain types of fat, like monounsaturated fatty acids, can actually help keep us healthy. In fact, the monounsaturated fats found in avocados can help boost heart health and keep our cardiovascular system working as it should. This type of fat can also help in the fight against inflammation, which makes it great at preventing infections.
56. Fiber City
Fiber has long been identified as an important part of the daily diet, and yet so few people actually get enough of it. And that’s a big problem, as fiber plays a central role in helping us feel full — thereby staving off unhealthy snack binges — and helping food move throughout the digestive process. Without enough fiber, you’re more likely to feel bloated and have trouble staying “regular.”
In essence, then, fiber plays an important role in helping us stay in shape and feel comfortable enough to get through the day. And there’s lots of it in avocado, with a single 100-gram serving packing in 7 grams of fiber, which is more than a quarter of your daily requirement.
57. Reduce Cholesterol Levels
Foods that are high in cholesterol — like fatty cuts of red meat and baked goods — pose a serious threat to the heart, particularly as we enter the late adult years. Women and especially men with a family history of heart disease need to be vigilant about tracking their cholesterol and discussing cholesterol reduction strategies with their family doctor.
The avocado can play a role in such strategies because it’s been shown to help lower our cholesterol levels. It can also limit the buildup of triglycerides, which can contribute to the development of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and fight off inflammation. In fact, some studies have shown that a diet including avocados can help cut blood triglycerides and cholesterol levels by about one-fifth. Altogether, that makes avocado an excellent choice for individuals looking to protect their heart and reduce their cholesterol.
58. Soak Up Nutrients Better
When you eat something healthy, like a fruit, vegetable, whole grain food, you probably assume that your body will absorb every last nutrient in that item. But that’s not actually the case; in fact, certain lifestyle and dietary choices can have a direct impact on how your body absorbs vitamins and minerals from your food.
That’s why it’s important to consume foods that can actually boost your body’s ability to safely and effectively absorb nutrients. Avocado is particularly effective in this, because its unique mix of vitamins and minerals can help you absorb food better from the other foods that make up your overall diet. In fact, studies have suggested that people who eat avocados regularly are far more successful in absorbing antioxidants from their foods, which means they are in a better position to fight off infections and possibly even serious diseases like cancer.
59. Power to Your Peepers
There are few body parts more important than your eyes. Imagine living in a world where you can’t view great works of art, see your loved ones as they come home from work, or watch your favorite movies, television shows, and video games. Unfortunately, many people struggle to maintain their eyesight as they age and deal with a range of diseases that can seriously impact the ability to see.
Avocados can actually help protect our eyes against these kinds of threats because they assist in the absorption of valuable antioxidants. This includes the type of antioxidant known as carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which have been linked to the status of eye health. In fact, studies have shown that getting a sufficient amount of these carotenoids on a regular basis can significantly reduce the risk of cataract, macular degeneration, and other health problems affecting the eyes.
60. Prevent Cancer
There may be no tougher job than that of an oncologist, a physician who specializes in treating cancer patients. Each day, they must tell someone that they’ve developed a disease that, in many cases, proves fatal, leaving only sadness and tragedy in its wake.
You can help make an oncologist’s job just a bit easier by living a healthy lifestyle that includes foods shown to reduce the chances of developing some form of cancer. Avocados fit the bill, as they’re high in the antioxidants that can help destroy free radicals and limit cancer’s opportunity to take hold in a system. Additionally, avocados have been shown to help reduce the side effects emerging from chemotherapy treatment.
61. Limit the Impact of Arthritis
Arthritis is a problem that affects people the world over and treatments for the issue remain only somewhat effective. Some of these treatments include pills, creams, physiotherapy, even surgery, with varying results. But what if you could help prevent or treat arthritis by making some changes to your diet?
Adding avocado to your daily regimen can actually help keep arthritis at bay. That’s because the avocado contains anti-inflammatory properties that can cut down on the swelling that makes arthritis and joint pain so painful and uncomfortable. In fact, studies have shown that regularly consuming avocado can seriously reduce the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.
62. Get in Shape
One of the main draws of avocados is that they can help you lose weight. How so? Because they contain both protein and monounsaturated fats, which together can help promote a feeling of fullness and prevent us from indulging in less healthy foods. On top of that, avocados contain lots of fiber and relatively few carbohydrates.
In fact, studies have shown that people who regularly eat avocados felt more satisfied after their meals and had a much lower desire to consume food again within the next 5 hours. Together, these findings mean that eating avocado can help curb our appetites and give us the strength required to manage an arduous weight loss plan.