Do you like superheroes? I don’t collect comic books or anything like that, but I guess I am what my daughter Kayla calls a “fangirl” at heart. I absolutely love to go and see the newest superhero movies, often wearing the corresponding T-shirt as I watch! My heart pounds, my hands grip the arms of the theater seat (and sometimes my husband Tony’s arm), and I gasp when something crashes to the ground or flies at me (3-D, you know). I cheer as I watch them always defeat the bad guys with their daring and powerful moves, coming out seemingly unscathed from the battle! My personal favorites are Captain America and Superman (who will always be Christopher Reeve in my mind and heart), but there are many more that I love to watch as well. What makes superheroes super? They always have extra-special skills or strength, rising up above the regular people like me.
Most of my FP4H friends and group members would probably tell you that I am just as obsessed with superfoods as I am with superheroes, if not more so! New nutrition research is constantly being published now about the extra-special qualities in so many of the delicious and beautiful foods God has so lovingly created and provided for us on this earth. This research is showing that there are many foods that basically rise above others in the form of nutrition density and disease-fighting qualities, just like my movie superheroes rise above the norm. How exciting!
You can fine-tune and enhance the disease-fighting attributes of your overall eating plan by frequently including superfoods. Striving to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables (which are all superfoods) is a great first step in boosting your consumption of phytochemicals, because they are often the compounds that give plants color and/or flavor and are found in the plants’ skin and flesh. Scientists have identified literally thousands of them, and new ones continue to be discovered. (Isn’t God awesome?) Some very significant recent research also showed that the risk of death from all causes decreased 5% with each additional half cup serving of fruits and vegetables eaten each day up to a total of 5 servings—a potential 25% decreased risk!
I hope this little taste will entice you to join the superfood fan club with me. Take a flying leap into the amazing, bountiful world of nutritious choices—you may never know what disease nemesis you may have battled and defeated until you get to heaven!
Superfoods to Fill Your Grocery Cart
- Fish – Omega-3 fatty acids in fish can lower your risk of heart arrhythmias, lower levels of triglycerides and blood pressure, and slow the growth of plaque in your arteries.
- Beans & Peas – These have been linked with lowering blood cholesterol levels and inflammation, reducing weight, and helping to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some types of cancer.
- Nuts — Eating nuts regularly is linked with many benefits, including lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers.
- Oats — Studies show that eating oats daily lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by 8-23%; they have also been found to increase feelings of fullness, lower blood pressure, lower fasting glucose levels, promote gastrointestinal function, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Whole Grains — A diet high in whole grains (studies primarily included whole wheat) has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke by 30-36%, type 2 diabetes by 21-30%, and heart disease by 25-28%, as well as result in better weight maintenance and blood pressure.
- Beets — The vibrant color in beets comes from the phytochemical beta-cyanin, which has been found to have anti-cancer effects. Beets are also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, and vitamin C and also contain betaine, an amino acid shown to lower inflammation in the body.
- Broccoli – Broccoli provides high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, folic acid and fiber, as well as some protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. Findings include that it may reduce chronic inflammation/oxidative stress, which may ward off cancer; in addition, it may be helpful in promoting a healthy digestive system and good heart health.
- Carrots – These are very high in vitamin A (113% DV in a half cup) and have many phytochemicals linked to their vivid colors. Studies have linked carrot consumption to cardiovascular health, vision health, and cancer protection.
- Dark-green leafy vegetables — Kale, spinach, collard greens, and chard are definitely nutrition superstars! They provide at least 19 essential nutrients in a one-cup (cooked) serving and have been linked to lots of health bonuses, including protection against age-related eye disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and even mental decline.
- Berries — Studies place all types of berries at the top of the list in terms of antioxidant content and have identified that they have a profound impact on health, including lowering the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and age-related mental decline.
CHARLOTTE DAVIS, Registered, Licensed Dietician & FP4H Networking Leader
Charlotte authored the book, My Place for Nutrition, and is the FP4H Networking Leader for the Arkansas area. She has led FP4H groups in Arkansas churches for over 19 years–and never plans to stop. God forever changed her life and her priorities when she started her first group in 1995. Charlotte is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and works as the Child Nutrition Director for Searcy Public Schools (4100 students).