The idea of superfoods intoxicates us. We listen with ears cocked when marketers and health gurus tell us to eat goji, acai and spirulina. And who can blame us? We want that silver bullet that makes us feel great and live longer.
But too strong an emphasis on exotic superfoods takes the focus away from everyday fruits and vegetables, and that’s a problem.
In the United States, only about 9 percent of Americans eat the daily recommended amount of vegetables, and only about 13 percent eat the recommended amount of fruits. Since most of us struggle to eat enough fresh plant foods, we should prioritize daily consumption first, and worry about “superfood”-status later.
The easiest way to increase daily consumption is to focus on ordinary produce you can find and afford easily. Often, these “ordinary” fruits and vegetables stand up to “superfoods” in terms of nutritional benefits, anyway. Take a look at this list of produce items that deliver stellar nutrition and help you meet your daily quota without having to stress about superfoods:
Onions supply vitamin C, fiber and quercetin (a flavonoid that quells inflammation.)
Oranges provide folate and potassium, which protect heart health, and carotenoids, which maintain healthy eyes.
Celery boasts plenty of vitamin K and phenolic acid antioxidants for healthy blood vessels and good digestive health.
Broccoli contains immune-boosting phytonutrients, including sulforaphanes, which can fight cancer.
Strawberries’ polyphenols reduce spikes in blood glucose, and the berries contain plenty of vitamin C and manganese, a trace mineral that supports bone and skin health.
Spinach supplies ample vitamins K, A and C. The darker the leaf, the greater the concentration of vitamin C.
7. Romaine Lettuce
Include romaine lettuce in your salad for plenty of folate, potassium and fiber.
Beta-carotene in carrots reduces cell damage and helps maintain healthy eyes during aging.
Tomatoes contain large amounts of lycopene, which can inhibit breast cancer growth. A tomato-rich diet can also reduce LDL cholesterol and the risk of stroke.
10. Green Beans
Green beans provide fiber, vitamin K, manganese, and plant-based iron.
If you already love a food with a super status, (chia pudding, anyone?) keep eating it! Otherwise, remember that consistent daily consumption of whole plant foods is more important than occasional consumption of superfoods. In other words, an apple a day will likely improve your health more than a mangosteen a week.