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“Superfoods” everyone needs

Experts say dozens of easy-to-find “superfoods” may help ward off heart disease, cancer, cholesterol and more.

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Imagine a superfood - not a medicine - powerful enough to help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and, for an added bonus, perhaps put you in a better mood. Did we mention that there are no side effects? You'd surely stock up on a lifetime supply. Guess what? These potentially life-altering superfoods are available right now in your local food shop.

You don't need specific foods for specific ailments. A healthy diet incorporating a variety of the following superfoods will help you maintain your weight, fight disease and live longer. One thing they all have in common: every superfood is going to be a 'real' or unprocessed food. You won’t find fortified potato crisps in the superfood category.

Top superfoods offering super health protection

  • Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Oats
  • Oranges
  • Pumpkin
  • Salmon
  • Soya
  • Spinach
  • Tea (green or black)
  • Tomatoes
  • Turkey
  • Walnuts
  • Yoghurt

Blueberries: Antioxidant superfood

Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavonoids, these berries are also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them the top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Not only may they help lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory.

Inflammation is a key driver of all chronic diseases, so blueberries have a host of benefits. When selecting berries, note that the darker they are, the more antioxidants they have. Frozen fruits are just as good as fresh, experts say, but make sure you include lots of other fruit and vegetables in your diet as well.

Omega-3 rich fish: Superfoods for the heart, joints and memory

Omega-3s you get in fish lower heart disease risk, arthritis and may possibly help with memory loss and Alzheimer's. There is some evidence to show that it reduces depression as well.

Omega-3s are most prevalent in fatty, cold-water fish. Look for wild caught (not farmed) salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. Aim for two-to-three portions a week. Other forms of omega-3s are available in fortified eggs, linseeds and walnuts. These superfoods have the added benefit of being high in monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol.

Soya: Superfood to lower cholesterol

A study reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association (2003) showed that a diet of soya fibre, protein from oats and barley, almonds and margarine from plant sterols lowered cholesterol as much as statins, the most widely prescribed cholesterol medicine. Consider tofu, soya milk or edamame (soya beans) - not soya powder. Soy sauce won't do the trick, either. One caveat: if you have a family history of breast cancer it is not recommended that you eat extra soya.

Fibre: Superfood aids weight loss and checks cholesterol

A diet high in fibre will help you maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. As a bonus, because fibre helps you feel full longer, it's a great tool in weight management. Whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables are all good sources. Try tossing some beans in your salad, fresh, frozen or dried are the best. The tinned varieties tend to be higher in salt, so look for beans in plain water.

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