So what separates one food from another? What really makes a food a super food?
“They're foods that are already high in vitamins and mineral content but a super foods like in the case of plant-based super foods, they have what are called phytochemicals,“ says Diane DeLorm, a registered dietician at Rochester General Hospital
Phytochemicals are chemicals plants produce as part of their defense in nature but when we eat them, they fight off free-radicals in our bodies.
“But they're finding that when we consume them (plant-based super foods), they have disease-lowering capabilities for heart disease and certain cancers,” says DeLorm.
The following foods make the list in 2008:
- Blueberries: rich in antioxidants, these power berries help destroy free radicals in the blood stream.
- Broccoli: a cruciferous vegetable, broccoli is both rich in antioxidants and cancer-fighting compounds. It is also high in folic acid and B-vitamins
- Flax seed: this is a tiny seed that is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seed can be found in the organic aisle and can be added to a number of foods including yogurt and breads.
- Soy: this food is also linked to cancer risk reduction and is a good, natural source of protein. Soy can be found in tofu, soy milk or the more natural edamame beans.
- Green tea: an inexpensive tea which is packed with antioxidants. There are dozens of flavors and varieties. This tea is a must for cleaning toxins from the body.
- Tomatoes: rich in a chemical called “lycopene”. There are some research studies which suggest the chemical may reduce certain types of cancer. The chemical is more potent in cooked tomatoes. Tomatoes are also high in Vitamin C and minerals.
- Yogurt: while not a plant-based food, yogurt has natural cultures which are beneficial to the intestinal and digestive system, helping to regulate the system.
- Kidney beans: possibly the ultimate super food, kidney beans are inexpensive and high in protein and fiber. One cup of kidney beans has 15 grams of fiber. The little legume is also packed with vitamins and other minerals.
As for how you should shop for these foods, DeLorm suggests following a rainbow of sorts: shop by color.
“In the context of these super foods, we look at five different colors really, white, green, the purple/blue group, red and orange,” says DeLorm.