10 Best Superfoods That Make You Healthy and Strong

Foods can protect you from many diseases and can improve your disease condition. Superfoods are foods that are highly dense in nutrients. A food is considered a superfood when it not only can protect or treat a single disease, but its regular consumption can protect you against many diseases at a time.

Eating just superfoods and avoiding other foods doesn’t guarantee you a disease-free life. But eating superfoods every day definitely reduces the risk of developing the disease manifold. 

This is because superfoods contain active chemical compounds that are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and inhibit oxidative stress by killing free radicals and reducing inflammation in the body.

Oxidative stress and inflammation are the leading causes of cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and many such chronic diseases. You can prevent these diseases by eating superfoods every day. Do not look at superfoods as medicines that you only need until your condition improves. See them as lifelong friends; They are here to do good for you, so you must keep their company throughout life. 

I have also reviewed a lot of other dietary supplements, if you are interested, you might check them out.

I am listing the top superfoods that you must include in your everyday diet. But to stay disease-free, you should also avoid eating processed foods, canned foods, fried items, salt, and other well-known health deteriorates. Here are superfoods that have medicinal properties and can reduce your dependency on medicines. Let’s meet our lifelong food friends:

1. Turmeric 

Turmeric deserves to be at the top of the superfoods list. Turmeric has scientifically proven health benefits. The credit goes to curcumin, the active compound of turmeric. Curcumin gives a bright yellow colour to turmeric and has many medicinal properties. 

It is a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agent. These properties play an important role in keeping your body strong enough from inside to prevent most of the disease.

Inflammation is good for the body as it helps heal an injury or fights infection, but our today’s food and lifestyle cause inflammation in the body at a dangerous level. Chronic inflammation is one of the reasons for almost every disease, including arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, cancer, and other degenerative conditions. 

Curcumin has a potent anti-inflammatory property that protects you from many diseases. Lower levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is associated with Alzheimer’s and depression.

Turmeric boosts the levels of BDNF and is very effective in preventing and treating depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Turmeric helps prevent and control a variety of cancer types, including prostate, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. It helps stop the growth of tumour cells.

Due to its antibacterial and antiviral properties, curcumin might help fight off infection and a variety of viruses, including herpes and viral flu. So, next time when you get a viral fever, add one tablespoon of turmeric powder in milk, boil for two minutes, and drink it before bed. It will heal you faster.

Turmeric protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Unhealthy foods like foods high in saturated fats, sugar as well as poor lifestyle choices such as drinking alcohol contribute to free radicals, which is associated with tissue damage. 

Free radicals can cause damage to cells of DNA, proteins, and cell membranes, by pairing with their electrons through the oxidation process. 

These are responsible for ageing and other health complications. Turmeric has a high content of polyphenols, flavonoids, tannins, and ascorbic acid; these all are natural antioxidants and help protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.

How to consume turmeric?

Eat fresh turmeric in the winter season. Grate it and add in your morning tea. In other seasons, use turmeric powder in cooking and have hot turmeric milk at night before bed. Turmeric is warm in nature, so don’t overeat it in summer, you may get a mouth ulcer.

Who should avoid turmeric?

No one. It can be consumed by anyone. Eat black pepper with turmeric; it increases curcumin absorption in the body. However, if you are taking blood-thinning medicines like warfarin, you should limit your turmeric consumption because turmeric purifies the blood and thins the blood.

How much turmeric should I eat in a day?

You should aim to get 500mg-1000mg of curcumin in a day, which is equivalent to one tablespoon of freshly ground turmeric or one tablespoon of turmeric powder. Avoid supplements rather than go for fresh or powdered turmeric.

2. Fenugreek Leaves and Seeds

Fenugreek leaves and seeds have a wide range of nutrients that provide numerous health benefits. They are packed with iron, vitamins, biotin, choline, flavonoids, and fibres. The high antioxidant flavonoid content in fenugreek seeds can reduce pain and inflammation and improve arthritis conditions. 

Fenugreek leaves and seeds are high in soluble fibre, which helps lower blood sugar and decreases cholesterol levels. The fibre in fenugreek slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and is very effective in controlling diabetes.

High blood cholesterol levels increase your risk of heart diseases. The soluble fibre in fenugreek gets attached to cholesterol particles and takes them out from the body, thus decreasing the cholesterol levels in the body and reduces blood pressure. This reduces the risk of developing heart complications and improves heart health.

Also, fenugreek seeds are effective in the treatment of hair loss, male impotence, and other types of sexual dysfunction.

How much fenugreek should I consume in a day?

One teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in a day for six months to see the result. Aim to eat fresh fenugreek leaves every day or every alternate day in the winter season.

What is the best way to consume fenugreek?

Soak one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in a glass of water overnight. The next morning, chew the fenugreek seeds and swallow them with a full glass of water (in which seeds were soaked). Make fresh fenugreek leaves salad or sauté them in mustard oil, add garlic to enhance the taste.

Who should avoid fenugreek?

If you are on medication for diabetes or hypertension, don’t start taking fenugreek in high amounts without consulting your doctor and pharmacist. Fenugreek may perform similar functions as your diabetes and BP medications. 

So taking both may lower blood glucose and blood pressure below the safe range. Because of that, the dose of your medicines might need to be changed.

3. Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are probably the healthiest among all the seeds. They have got the reputation of a superfood because they are packed with cancer-fighting polyphenols, lignans, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and fibres. 

Flax seeds contain approximately 100 times more lignans than any other plant food, which helps in protecting against breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. They are one of the best sources of an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Due to their high omega-3 content, they help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes through their anti-inflammatory action. Omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acids, along with lignans, block the release of pro-inflammatory agents and reduce inflammation in the body. 

The anti-cancer property of flax seeds is due to their lignans content; they suppress the growth, size, and spread of cancer cells by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism.

How many flax seeds should I eat in a day?

One tablespoon (10g-15g) of flax seeds in a day.

What is the best way to eat flax seeds?

Dry roast and grind them. Add the ground flax seeds in chapati and tortilla dough.

Who should avoid flax seeds?

There are no side effects reported to date, so it is safe to eat flax seeds for all. Always remember moderation is the key. Consuming too many flax seeds with too little water can worsen constipation and may lead to an intestinal blockage, so take flax seeds with plenty of water to prevent this from happening.

4. Sweet Potatoes 

Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of beta carotene that convert into vitamin A in the body and promote eye health as well as boost immunity. Beta carotene functions as a potent antioxidant that reduces cell damage and helps prevent the free radical damage that is associated with cancer. 

The higher fibre content of sweet potatoes prevents constipation and promotes a well-functioning digestive tract. The presence of anthocyanin pigments in sweet potatoes, particularly in purple-fleshed sweet potatoes, helps in preventing and reducing chronic inflammation in the body.

Sweet potatoes are rich in both magnesium and potassium, both of which are essential in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The higher fibre and magnesium content of sweet potatoes may decrease diabetes risk. Moreover, sweet potatoes help to regulate blood sugar levels, especially in people with diabetes; its high insoluble fibre content promotes insulin sensitivity. Unlike other starchy foods, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index. They release sugar into the bloodstream slowly and steady, which aids in controlling the blood sugar levels of individuals.

How many sweet potatoes should I eat in a day?

One medium sweet potato in a day is enough to meet your daily recommended vitamin A intake.

What is the best way to cook sweet potatoes?

To get the most nutrition from your sweet potatoes, don’t peel them, simply wash, and scrub well before cooking. They can be boiled, steamed, and baked. Steamed or boiled sweet potatoes have more healthy benefits than baked sweet potatoes because baking releases the sugar inside the sweet potato, which may increase blood glucose levels.

Who should avoid eating sweet potatoes?

People who have existing kidney stones or are at high risk of developing them or those who are on dialysis should avoid sweet potatoes. It is because sweet potatoes are high in potassium, and when you have kidney disease, your kidneys cannot remove extra potassium, and too much potassium can stay in your blood.

5. Cow’s Milk

The reason why you should drink milk every day is that cow’s milk is a complete food. It contains every nutrient that you need in a day for a healthy body. Cow’s milk is packed with protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, B vitamins, and phosphorus. When you feel hungry, have a glass of cow’s milk, it’s enough to give you energy for the next 2 -3 hours.

Let’s see why milk is so good for your health:

Amino acids are compounds that combine to make proteins. Your body needs nine essential amino acids through food to maintain normal functioning. Not all protein sources are considered as high-quality complete proteins because not all protein-rich foods contain all nine essential amino acids. 

Milk is a rich source of protein, mainly casein (80%) and whey (20%). Both are considered a complete protein because both contain all nine essential amino acids that are required for your body to maintain good health.

Milk is an excellent source of calcium, which is necessary to build healthy bones and teeth and to maintain bone mass. The presence of vitamin D in milk increases the absorption of calcium in the body. Calcium with vitamin D can protect you from osteoporosis.

Magnesium and potassium in milk support proper kidney and heart function and can help you prevent hypertension and heart diseases.

Milk is a complete package; you can get all essential nutrients from a single, convenient source. If you are thinking of switching to vegan, keep in mind that it is hard to have all milk’s nutrients in a single vegan food source. 

Most of the vegan sources are fortified, meaning extra nutrients are manually added to them, and these nutrients are not naturally present in them, so basically, these are not natural sources. Also, when you switch to vegan, you need supplements to reach daily vitamins and minerals needed by the body, which is an effective way but again, not the natural way. Anything which is not natural is not advisable to depend on for a long time.

Milk products that you should add to your diet:

Cow’s milk (best for health), low-fat yoghurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, and cow’s milk’s ghee.

Milk products that you should avoid:

Heavy cream, processed cheese, and whole-fat dairy products.

How much milk and milk products should I consume in a day?

250 ml cow’s milk + 2-3 milk products (yoghurt, cottage cheese).

Who should avoid milk?

If you are lactose intolerant, you should avoid milk. Another alternative is lactose-free cow’s milk, which contains all the nutrients of milk, but it’s free from lactose. Lactose-free cow’s milk is made by adding the enzyme lactase to cow’s milk, which breaks down the lactose into glucose and makes it lactose-free and can easily be digested by lactose-intolerant people.

Limit your dairy consumption in the wet season. Consuming too much dairy can aggravate gastric problems, cause nausea, diarrhoea, and stomach pains, even if you are not lactose intolerant. So, moderation is the key.

If you have a cough, limit your milk and milk product consumption. Avoid taking milk at night. Milk doesn’t increase the production of phlegm, but it can make your existing phlegm thicker and may irritate your throat and aggravate a cough.

6. Raw Garlic

Garlic is an adaptogen which means it stabilizes and maintains a steady internal environment in the body, in response to environmental changes. It ensures the optimal functioning of the body, including the regulation of body temperature, blood sugar, blood pressure, pH balance, and the functioning of the immune system. This is the reason why initially garlic was used for medicinal purposes only.

Most of the potent medicinal properties of garlic are due to allicin, a sulfur compound that gives a pungent smell to the garlic. The thing with allicin is that it only releases when you crush or cut the garlic. 

Allicin is very unstable, which means you need to use it immediately after you cut garlic. The allicin in raw crushed garlic is destroyed by heat. So, for health benefits, eat fresh raw garlic.

Also, garlic protects against bowel and stomach cancers. It is scientifically proven that the sulfur components of garlic alter the biological behaviour of tumours, tumour microenvironments, and precancerous cells. Garlic decreases cancer risk, particularly cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.

Garlic is known to contain natural antioxidants that can eliminate low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from the body and help protect against heart disease by thinning the blood and improving blood circulation. 

Garlic reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide production in the body, which helps smooth muscles to relax and widen the blood vessels.

The antibacterial and antifungal properties of garlic help fight infections and boost the function of the immune system. So basically, this vegetable (yes, it’s a vegetable, not a herb or spice) can actually protect you from many diseases. It’s time to add RAW garlic to your diet!

How should I take garlic?

Eat one clove of freshly crushed raw garlic every morning on an empty stomach. Don’t eat more than one clove of fresh raw garlic at a time. Don’t keep garlic in the mouth for too long; it may cause burn. 

Eat plenty of garlic (raw and cooked) in winter, add them in soup or spring roll. Limit garlic consumption in the summer season, too much garlic in summer, may result in acne and ulcer due to its heat-producing nature.

When should I avoid garlic?

If you have ulcers, colitis, acid reflux, or heartburn problems, limit your garlic consumption.

How much garlic is enough for health benefits?

One clove of raw garlic (crushed) on an empty stomach every day is enough. If you experience heat, ulcer or acid reflux, then instead of daily, eat it twice or thrice a week.

7. Sprouts

Sprouts are affordable, safe, and easily grown nutrient-dense superfoods. Sprouting can increase nutrition up to 100 times more than raw legumes and vegetables.

For those who have difficulty digesting certain foods, sprouting is a better option. The reason is that sprouting increases the proteolytic enzyme content of the food that breaks down starches into simpler carbohydrates, proteins into amino acids, and fats into fatty acids. So, your digestive system need not break them, which makes these nutrients more bioavailable and easily digestible.

Why is sprouting beneficial for you? 

Because sprouting increases the nutrition value of legumes and vegetables, it removes enzyme inhibitors and unlocked healthy compounds. The increased bioavailability of high levels of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants increases the alkalinity of your body. Raising pH (to an alkaline state) increases the ability of your immune system to prevent disease.

Grow sprouts at your home to reduce your exposure to pesticides, food additives, and other chemicals. There are so many different sprouts varieties you can try, including mung bean, black chickpeas, lentils, wheat sprouts, alfalfa, radish seeds, and broccoli.

How many sprouts should I eat in a day?

Eat a bowl of different varieties of sprouts in a day. You don’t need to eat the same sprouts every day, keep them rotating, eat every sprout on alternate or every three days, but try to have a bowl of sprouts every day.

What is the best way to eat sprouts?

Eating them raw will keep all the nutrients locked. To make them tangy, add finely chopped cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, black salt, and black pepper.

Who should avoid eating sprouts?

In case you are going for store-bought sprouts (which I would not recommend at all), don’t eat them raw. Cook them thoroughly until steaming hot throughout to reduce the risk of food poisoning from Salmonella, Listeria, or E. coli

Store-bought sprouts can be contaminated anywhere along the journey from farm to table. People with weakened immune systems should not eat any variety of raw or lightly-cooked sprouts; it may result in food poisoning.

8. Spinach

Spinach is called a superfood because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is packed with iron, vitamin k, protein, calcium, magnesium, and potassium that protect your body from a wide range of diseases. 

Spinach is a significant source of vitamin K, which is an important factor in wound healing and bone health. Spinach is rich in carotenoids that are beneficial antioxidants that boost your immune system. It contains three different types of carotenoids: beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Beta carotene converts into vitamin A in the body and has a vital role in maintaining healthy vision, a healthy immune system, and a healthy reproduction system. Lutein and zeaxanthin function as a light filters, protecting your eye tissues from UV rays of sunlight.

The high levels of potassium in spinach, along with folate, relaxes the blood vessels and lower your blood pressure. Spinach also helps the body make nitric oxide, a natural vasodilator that further lowers blood pressure.

Often people who have type 2 diabetes have low levels of magnesium. Spinach is very low in calories and has a low glycemic index. Additionally, it is rich in magnesium, which helps to lower blood sugar and can even protect you from type 2 diabetes.

What is the best way of eating spinach?

The more you cook spinach, the more it will lose its nutrients. Either sauté the spinach or blanch the spinach, but don’t blanch for more than 1 minute. Add lemon juice while blanching, it will increase the absorption of nutrients in your body, and you will get the full health benefit.

Who should not eat spinach?

Limit your spinach consumption if you have kidney stones or if you are at a high risk of developing kidney stones because spinach is high in both calcium and oxalates that can cause kidney stones.

If you are taking blood-thinning medication, do let your doctor and pharmacist know about your spinach consumption. Spinach is high in vitamin K that promotes blood clotting and can decrease the effectiveness of your blood-thinning medication such as warfarin.

9. Dry Fruits

You must have heard this 1000 times that you should eat nuts every day! But do you follow it? If not, then it’s time to start eating nuts every day! Eating dry fruits every day helps promote overall well-being and ensures a healthy, disease-free long life. 

Nuts contain heart-friendly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and antioxidants like flavonoids and vitamin E. Research suggests that high consumption of nuts, including peanuts, is associated with two to three times reduced risk of breast cancer.

Dry fruits are high in fibre and magnesium, which help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. Dry fruits lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Dates are loaded with iron and potassium and yet contain little sodium, which helps maintain normal blood pressure and keeps the risk of a stroke in check.

Dried figs are a good source of calcium. Figs keep bodily systems like the endocrine, immune, respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems in check.

Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, protein, and monounsaturated fats. They promote weight loss by reducing hunger and keeping you full for a longer period. The healthy fats and antioxidants of almonds lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and also lower blood sugar levels.

Walnut kernels don’t just look like a brain, but they actually contain brain-boosting polyphenolic compounds like omega-3 fatty acids. Polyphenols are considered critical brain food and prevent cognitive disorders.

Cashew nuts are rich in zinc, which boost immunity and prevent male pattern baldness and prostate enlargement by blocking the creation of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

How many dry fruits should I eat in a day?

Eat a handful of different dry fruits every day, including almonds, walnut, cashew nuts, pistachio, dates, raisins, and figs. Frequency matters, so it is important to eat them every day even if the quantity is less than a handful.

What is the best way to eat dry fruits?

Nuts contain phytic acid that reduces the nutrition value of nuts by lowering absorption, so the best way to remove phytic acid is by soaking. Soak a handful of dry fruits in water overnight and eat them the next morning.

Who should avoid eating dry fruits?

You should eat plenty of dry fruits in winter but limit your dry fruits consumption in the summer season. Nuts produce heat in the body, while it is beneficial in winter to keep you warm; in summer, they can give you acne, ulcer, and acidity.

10. Basil Leaves

Holy basil or tulsi is a superfood because it is an immunomodulator and adaptogen. It lowers blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Stress increases your risk of developing or worsens conditions like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, obesity, and gastrointestinal problems. 

Adaptogen with the anti-inflammatory properties of basil helps you to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and is very effective in preventing and treating cognitive disorders, including amnesia and dementia.

The neuroprotective, anti-stress, and anti-inflammatory activities of basil enhance memory and improve brain function. For this reason, basil is considered a natural memory tonic.

Regular consumption of basil leaves can prevent viral infections. Research confirms that holy basil has an immunomodulatory effect; it increases the percentage of T-helper cells as well as NK-cells (Natural killer cells), which are the components of the adaptive immune system and innate immune system, respectively. These cells help eliminate pathogens by preventing their growth and help fight viral infections.

Research shows basil leaves are as effective in lowering blood glucose as antidiabetic drugs. Basil leaves have hypoglycemic properties, which lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. If you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, the essential oil of basil helps cut down cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which is a persistent risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

How much basil should I consume in a day?

Start your day by chewing two to three fresh basil leaves. 

What is the best way to eat basil leaves?

Add 2-3 fresh basil leaves to your morning green tea. You don’t need much expertise in growing basil at your home.

Who should avoid eating basil leaves?

Limit your basil consumption if you are taking medications like acetaminophen or paracetamol (pain reliever). If you are consuming plenty of basil leaves and taking paracetamol, they both work together and tend to affect the functioning of your liver.

Conclusion

Now that you know the foods that can naturally protect you from diseases, should you just opt for their dietary supplement? Not at all. Supplements are never recommended in place of natural foods. 

This is because the supplements contain ingredients that have strong biological effects on the body. Their dose may interfere with medications you may already be taking, which can sometimes have harmful consequences. Taking too much of some supplements can have life-threatening consequences. 

You should include various natural foods in your diet, not human-made foods, so supplements are a big no in replacing superfoods.

Leave a Comment