9 superfoods you should be eating now

Search for “superfoods” on Google and you might be overwhelmed with the results.

It seems like everyone is talking about these powerful foods that are loaded with vitamins, minerals and other beneficial components that can help you stay healthy.

Superfoods are a group of whole foods that are loaded with essential nutrients for health, like antioxidants, calcium, and protein. Many are low in calories as well.

Registered Dietitian Purvi Desai, with ADC’s Diabetes Management program, says just because a food is super doesn’t mean it’s also exotic. Many superfoods can be easily found in your local grocery store – often in the produce aisle.

She says it’s also easy to work them into your daily menu. Here are her 9 top choices:


Closeup of blueberries

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“Blueberries are a superfood because they have a lot of the antioxidants that we need,” Desai said.

One kind of antioxidant in blueberries is anthocyanins, which can help keep your memory sharp as you grow older.

These colorful berries are also rich in calcium and potassium.

One-half cup of fresh blueberries has 1.5 grams of dietary fiber and 9.5 mg of vitamin C.


Bowl of washed kale

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Kale is high in vitamins A, C and the B vitamin folate — nutrients which fight cancer. It also has some calcium, iron and beta-carotene.

How do you work it in to your daily menu? Desai suggests substituting it for spinach in recipes or mixing it with lettuce for salads.

When buying kale, look for fresh, crisp, dark green leaves. Make sure you keep it refrigerated to preserve the vitamins when you get it home.


Closeup of broccoli

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High in fiber and rich in anti-cancer nutrients, broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked.

Desai says it also provides vitamins A, C and K, and minerals like calcium and iron.

“It also has a little bit of lutein in it which keeps your eyes healthy,” she said.

One spear of fresh broccoli has 5 g of dietary fiber and 134 mg of vitamin C, once it has been cooked.

Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes on counter

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Instead of a baked Russet potato for dinner, think about eating a baked sweet potato instead.

Sweet potatoes are high in dietary fiber and an extremely rich source of vitamin A because of the high amounts of beta-carotene, which give sweet potatoes their color.

“The body turns beta-carotene into vitamin A,” Desai said.  “Vitamin A keeps your eyes, bones and immune system in good shape.”

They are also a good source of the B vitamin folate, vitamin C and potassium.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt with fruit

Just 2oz of greek yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium.

Instead of grabbing a container of regular yogurt, give Greek yogurt a try. This yogurt is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, and it has two times as much calcium.

It’s also rich in vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and a great source of protein.

“If you are vegetarian or not eating a lot of meat or other protein, this is a good way to get your protein,” Desai says.

You’ll want to limit yogurt to 2 ounces, which is the same amount of protein as meat.

One container of yogurt may contain as much as 14 g of protein and provide 15 percent to 20 percent of your calcium needs for the day.


Dry quinoa grains in bowl

Quinoa is a great substitute for rice.

This ancient grain, which originated in the Andean region of South America, is high in both fiber and protein. It’s also a good source of calcium and is gluten-free.

When cooked, quinoa has a fluffy texture and a nutty flavor.

“It cooks up kind of like rice,” Desai said. “You can substitute it in for rice in many recipes.”

One quarter cup of dry quinoa will also provide 15 percent of your daily iron needs.


Variety of dry beans

Beans are a great source of protein and fiber.

Beans are not only very high in fiber, but they also have a lot of protein, making them a good option for vegetarians.

Just one quarter cup of beans has 7 g of protein when cooked, which is about as much as 2 to 3 ounces of lean meat. It also has iron.

“The iron from meat is better absorbed, but you can pair beans with vitamin C to give you better iron absorption,” Desai said. “You could pair it with sweet potatoes and serve a side salad with kale, and you would have a good meal.”

One half cup of canned kidney beans has 7.5 g of dietary fiber and 1.6 mg of iron.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds in bowl

Chia seeds are full of antioxidants, omega fatty acids and calcium.

Chia seeds – the same ones that grow “Chia pets” – are high in calcium and omega-3 fatty acids.

“You can throw them on your salad, in smoothies,” Desai says.

The absorption power of these seeds gives them a sticky, gelatinous coating. That makes them a great thickening agent for puddings or smoothies.

Studies have show that chia seeds are great for heart health and researchers are also looking at benefits for those with diabetes.


Walnuts in bowl

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Walnuts are high in fiber, protein and good fats. They are also a great source of B vitamins, especially folate.

They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to heart health and improved mood.

The good fats in walnuts have been shown to reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol and maintain healthy levels of HDL “good” cholesterol.

“They are great raw, in salads – you can eat them in the afternoon with your blueberries!” Desai says.