9 Everyday Superfoods

9 Everyday Superfoods Looking to add a few superfoods to your diet? No need to take a trip to the health food store or spend a small fortune on mysterious roots and berries from faraway lands. Just rifle through your cupboards — you may already have them on hand!

Here are some of our favorite pantry super foods:

Nuts There’s so much to love about nuts. Rich in healthy fats, Omega-3’s, fiber, plant phenols, and many other health-promoting compounds, nuts and seeds are most definitely superfoods.

Almonds and walnuts are two popular favorites. Both are high in monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy when consumed in moderation. Almonds are also a good source of manganese, vitamin E, and magnesium. Walnuts provide Omega-3 fatty acids and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which protect against cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes.

Tip: Store nuts in the freezer to extend their storage life.

Apples An apple a day really may keep the doctor away! Rich in antioxidant polyphenols, apples are associated with cardiovascular benefits, asthma reduction, and a lower risk of some cancers. Apples are also a great source of vitamin C.

The soluble fiber pectin, together with the unique complement of polyphenols found in apples, work to regulate glucose absorption in our gut and stimulates insulin production — both of which are helpful when it comes to blood sugar regulation.

The health benefits of apples are most optimal when consumed in whole-food form, so skip the apple juice and snack on a crisp apple instead.

Tip: The nutrients in apples are concentrated in the skin, so keep the skin on whenever possible.

Beans The protein-fiber combination found in beans and legumes secures their place in the superfood spotlight. A one-cup serving of black beans contains 15 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein! Because protein and fiber move through our digestive system at a moderate pace, they help to stabilize blood sugar.

Much of the fiber in beans and legumes is insoluble, which supports digestive health –particularly in the lower part of our digestive tract. Beans and legumes are also rich in soluble fiber, which is helpful for lowering blood cholesterol levels and supporting cardiovascular health. They’re also a good source of folate, fiber, protein, phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin K.

Tip: Discard the soaking water when cooking dried beans. You’ll be tossing out a good amount of flatulence-causing compounds, as well as some of the phytates and tannins that lower nutrient availability.

Eggs Eggs have traditionally been referred to as a gold standard in protein quality, and in fact are often used as the benchmark against which other proteins are scored. It’s no wonder, with 6-7 grams of protein in a single egg. Rich in vitamin B12, choline (important for your brain), and healthy fats, eggs are most definitely a superfood.

It was previously believed that the cholesterol contained in egg yolks was problematic, but this has since been disproven. In a recent study, participants ate two eggs for breakfast daily, and there was no notable increase in blood cholesterol levels.

Eggs are satiating, and a great choice for quick and easy meals at any time of day.

Tip: Hard-boil a bunch of eggs on the weekend for grab and go snacks or meals during the week.

Oats Oats are awesome! Rich in indigestible carbohydrates called beta-glucans, oats have long been praised for lowering blood cholesterol levels. They are also host to a number of phenolic compounds, which have antioxidant properties.

Due to the high levels of those beta-glucans, oats are also helpful in stabilizing blood sugar. In fact, eating oats in the morning may help keep your blood sugar stable throughout the entire day.

Oats and other whole grains have been shown to be helpful for diabetics — and potentially protective against breast cancer, too. Also a good source of dietary fiber and protein, oats are super for sure!

Tip: Look for gluten-free oats if you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Peanut Butter Did you know that peanuts aren’t really nuts? They’re a member of the legume family, and have one of the highest protein contents of any legume. Consumed in moderation, peanut butter is a good source of energy and protein – and it’s rich in vitamin E and several B vitamin complexes, too.

Be sure to read your labels! Some brands remove the peanut oil and replace it with cheaper, lower-quality oils. Also watch out for added sugars. Seek out a brand of peanut butter that contains nothing but peanuts and maybe a bit of salt, or try making your own at home.

Tip: From time to time, enjoy a serving of peanut butter — one serving is about 2 tablespoons — instead of a handful of nuts.

Olive Oil An amazing healthy oil! Rich in antioxidants (particularly beta-carotene and vitamin E) and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, extra-virgin olive oil is a unique plant oil in terms of its fat composition. About 75% of the fat is found in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fat).

There have been countless studies pointing to the benefits of olive oil consumption related to fighting and preventing certain cancers, cardiovascular health, digestive health, and more.

Interestingly, the benefits of olive oil are not seen when diets involve too many calories and too much total food; in order to benefit from its healthy properties, olive oil must be consumed as a part of a balanced and healthy diet.

Tip: Store your olive oil in the cupboard to avoid accidentally degrading the oil with light or heat.

Herbs & Spices Check your spice cupboard for a great way to add flavor to any dish without adding fat, salt or sugar. Dried herbs and spices are also a fantastic way to add more overall health to your meals. Because they no longer contain the water that makes up a significant part of their fresh cousins, dried herbs and spices boast a much higher level of antioxidants.

They’re also rich in health-promoting phytonutrients, such as carotenoids, flavonoids and other phenolics.

Tip: Buy your dried herbs and spices at a bulk food store with high turnover to ensure freshness.

Brown Rice Another healthy whole grain to keep in your pantry: brown rice. Did you know that the process of converting brown rice to white rice destroys 60-80% of the vitamins and minerals, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids? Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole food with a myriad of benefits from colon health to cholesterol reduction.

It’s also an amazing source of dietary fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and tryptophan – the same sleepy-making essential amino acid found in turkey.

Tip: To have brown rice on the ready, cook more than you need and freeze the leftovers in one-cup portions.

About Katie

Katie is a university educated nutritionist and professional writer based in Stockholm, Sweden. She is a vegetarian of more than two decades, and is passionate about real food. Her blog The Muffin Myth is all about approachable nutrition.   Read more from Katie →

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Comments

  1. says

    This is excellent, Katie! I think people often view superfood as mythical items that are impossible to find without going to grocery store a million miles away. I love that this brings to light the fact that there are plenty of accessible superfoods. Loving all the nutritional information!!

    • says

      Thanks Julia! Superfoods definitely don’t need to be mythical or hard to find items. Isn’t it nice to know there are so many great options easily on hand?

    • says

      You’re so welcome, Natalie. It’s a nice reminder that superfoods don’t need to break the bank, and that so many are within reach for everyone.

  2. AlissaAlissa says

    Very refreshing to see a superfoods list in which nearly every item is already present in my kitchen! Also, when I read your tip about freezing nuts I definitely had a “why didn’t I ever think of that” moment. I always stock tons of nuts so that will definitely come in handy :)

    • says

      Alissa, I learned to keep nuts in the freezer from my mom! Whenever I go to her place I’m guaranteed to find bags of almonds and walnuts in the freezer. It’s especially nice if you buy them in bulk since the won’t go rancid and last for a long time. They’re also great to munch on straight out of the freezer!

  3. says

    Great tips and I definitely include these on a regular basis…well the peanut butter is daily, because I’m addicted. HA! And I’m actually having an apple and cashews this afternoon in between clients for a snack. :)

    • says

      You’re quite right, Janet. What it should have said was 13g of protein per 100g, which works out to about 6-6g of protein per egg. Thanks for the eagle eyes, I’ll make sure it gets corrected asap!

  4. says

    A perfect example of a sensible approach! I think there is too much pressure this day to run out and spend too much money on spirulina, chlorella, baobab, chia, quinoa, nutritional yeast etc – and forget about these humble ingredients. Great post Katie

    • says

      Thanks Ceri! Don’t get me wrong, I love chia and nutritional yeast as much as the next person, but there’s absolutely no need to go exotic with superfoods when we’ve got so much within easy reach.

  5. says

    I’m kind of impressed to see how many of these I eat already – I enjoy all of the above on a regular basis and it makes me feel a lot more positive about trying to eat healthily but not always wanting to get sucked into the latest fashionable food!

    Thank you for posting!

    • says

      You’re so right, Kate. There is so much goodness to be had in everyday foods. We need not be feeling guilt about not spending money on exotic ingredients when there is so much health right at hand!

    • says

      I find that I usually need less water than the package calls for when I’m cooking brown rice (and a lot of other grains). Most instructions advise 1 part rice to 2 parts water, but I usually use 1 part rice to 1.5 parts water and find that I get much better results – fluffy, not mushy. I’ve also got a trick I learned from my mom: put the rice in the pot, then fill with water until the water reaches your first knuckle if your finger tip is touching the top of the rice. Strange, but it works well! Then I cover, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 40 minutes. I hope this helps!

  6. says

    Feeling pretty good about the fact that I eat most of these on a daily basis! Must include more oats and brown rice in my life though!

    • says

      I’ve got a major overnight oats addiction going right now, so I’m eating oats almost daily. And I find if I cook up a big pot of brown rice on the weekend I’ll find all kinds of things to do with it throughout the week.

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