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When it comes to food, there are literally dozens of different things that provide vitamins and minerals that are necessary to your health. Superfoods, on the other hand, can be defined as those that are especially beneficial for your overall health and wellbeing. The following list of superfoods represents those that are particularly potent, especially for athletes who push their bodies to the limits.
The acai berry looks (and tastes) like a cross between a blueberry and a grape, and it comes from acai palm trees, which are native to South American rainforests. Studies measuring ORAC values, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, have shown that acai has about 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes – and more than any other fruit or vegetable, too. These tiny berries contain oleic acid, which is a fatty acid that helps improve brain function, and they’re a great source of dietary fiber. Acai berries are high in iron, which helps build oxygen-carrying red blood cells, and they contain a great deal of calcium to help keep your bones strong.
No list of superfoods would be complete without mentioning kale, a leafy green that grows in many different places around the world, and nutritionists claim that it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there. A single cup of kale contains no fat and only 33 calories, but it also provides 3g of protein, and 206% of your body’s recommended daily amount of vitamin A, which promotes immune system and reproductive health. What’s more, kale also contains 684% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin K, which helps protect the heart, fights off osteoporosis, and may even help prevent cancer when consumed regularly in large enough amounts.
Goji berries are bright red berries that resemble grape tomatoes. They are incredibly sweet, and they grow in locations like China and the Himalayas. You may have heard them called wolfberries in North America, and you’ll usually find them dried in specialty health food stores. Although they are high in vitamin C and other nutrients, the real benefit of goji berries is their impressive protein content. One single serving, or about four ounces of dried berries, provides you with 10% of your protein needs. What’s more, they contain large amounts of complex carbohydrates, which can keep you going without leading to a sugar crash later.
Chia seeds come from the Salvia Hispanic plant, which is similar to mint and grows in central and southern Mexico and Guatemala, and there is some evidence to suggest that the Mayans and Aztecs used chia seeds to fuel their performance centuries ago. They are relatively tasteless, which means you can add them to just about anything you eat throughout the day, including a bowl of oatmeal or even a smoothie. They make the list of superfoods because a single ounce of chia seeds provides 11 grams of fiber, which is important for digestive and heart health. They provide lots of manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus, which play a vital role in the development of new muscle tissue. They contain incredible amounts of antioxidants, and they are about 14% protein by weight.
Spirulina is dried blue-green algae that grows in warm lakes in Central and South America as well as in Africa. It plays an important role in the immune system, where it can help heal wounds more quickly and help you get over an illness faster. Spirulina is a leading source of gamma-linoleic acid, or GLA, which is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory agents in nature. However, many people are unaware that it contains a vast amount of chlorophyll, which can remove toxins from the bloodstream and help you feel better in general. It’s a better source of protein gram-for-gram than beef, chicken, fish, and soybeans, too, which is why it’s an important addition to this list of superfoods.
The mangosteen tree grows in places like Southeast Asia, Florida, Puerto Rico, and southwest India. They are high in fiber, low in calories, and contain no saturated fat or cholesterol. They’re packed with potassium, which can help regulate your blood pressure, and they also offer up 15.6 grams of complex carbohydrates per cup of fresh segments. Aside from this, mangosteens will provide you with lots of water-soluble antioxidants, thiamin, niacin, and folate – all of which are necessary for a healthy metabolism. Be aware that mangosteens contain quite a bit of fructose, so consume them in moderation.
Garcinia cambogia has received a lot of attention lately, especially since it is cropping up in many weight-loss supplements around the world. It is actually a tropical fruit that is also known as the Malabar tamarind. Recently, studies on this fruit have shown that an ingredient in the rind of the fruit, known as HCA, or hydroxycitric acid, can help cut appetite and burn fat. It blocks an enzyme known as lyase, which your body needs to create and store fat deposits. What’s more, a few studies suggest that it raises the levels of serotonin in your brain, which can help suppress your appetite. It may also raise your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol.
Although quinoa is a grain that is found in the Andes regions, the plant is typically harvested for its tiny seeds (similar in size to couscous). They have a bitter coating that defends them against birds, so when you buy quinoa, be sure to check the packaging and make sure that the coating has been soaked off. It offers a variety of health benefits, too. It is one of the only plant-based foods that offers all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for building healthy tissues, including muscle. What’s more, it contains large amounts of manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. A single cup contains about 40g of carbohydrates, which provide fuel for your body.
People are using coconut oil for everything these days. Women are putting it on their faces to look younger, and people are even putting it in their hair to improve shine. It also offers up many different nutritional benefits that you shouldn’t overlook. It is one of the best sources of medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs, which are medium-length chains of fatty acids. Unlike other fatty acids, which usually have longer chains, MCTs pass from the liver directly into the digestive tract, where they provide a quick energy boost and may make you feel more alert.
This list of superfoods represents the best of the best for anyone who is interested in fitness, sports, and bodybuilding. They all do their part to provide high amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, fatty acids, and other compounds that will help you feel better. Add them all to your diet today and discover the true difference they can make.