What we eat has a huge impact on our health. Eating poorly can lead to disease or a shortened life span, according to some studies, whilst nutritious foods can benefit the body in various ways, from bone health to brain health to increased energy.
“I’d say that 50% to 70% of suffering could be eliminated by what people eat and how they move: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension can all be impacted,” nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, author of “The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals,” said to WebMD.
To make this year your best yet, here are 17 superfoods to power you through the next 12 months (and beyond).
17 Vegan Superfoods To Power You Through Life
Blueberries – popular in smoothies, breakfasts, and desserts – are rich in antioxidants and phytoflavinoids (compounds that protect the body from stress). They also have high levels of potassium and vitamin C, are anti-inflammatory, and are said to lower the risk of developing heart disease and cancer. As well as fresh and frozen blueberries, you can consume the fruit as a powder, in a bar, or in a smoothie, like NOKA’s organic smoothie squeeze pouches.
2. Watermelon Seeds
Wait, you don’t have to spit out watermelon seeds? In fact, eating the tiny snack can be good for you. Speaking to POPSUGAR, registered dietitian Christy Brissette, RD, explained, “A handful of watermelon seeds is only 20 calories, and they contain fibre and healthy fats along with some vitamin E and small amounts of iron, magnesium, and folate.”
“Go for sprouted watermelon seeds for even more nutritional benefits,” she added. Try them as an on-the-go snack or sprinkled on top of yogurt, salad, oatmeal, stew, or even on avocado toast.
3. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil – ideal for salads and sometimes used in baking – has a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. As an added bonus, roughly 70 percent of avocado oil is oleic acid, a heart-healthy, monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid. This superfood is said to improve all kinds of areas of health, from relieving symptoms of arthritis to reducing the risk of gum disease, according to Healthline.
Kale is “one of the world’s healthiest foods,” according to Medical News Today. Its fiber, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, vitamin K, and vitamin C can assist with digestion and cardiovascular health. It can also support healthy skin, hair, and bones. Try it in a salad, in a capsule, as a powder, or even in snack form, like Rhythm Superfoods‘ vegan kale chips.
Hemp is a great source of plant-based protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which, according to experts, could boost eye and brain health and help manage mood and inflammation. You can consume hemp as an oil or in your morning cereal, coffee, or smoothie with dairy-free hemp milk. You can also buy Hemp Hearts, which carry a nutty taste similar to sunflower seeds, and are easy to sprinkle on salads, oatmeal, or yogurt.
6. Pistachio Nuts
Potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins are just some of the nutrients you’ll get from a handful of pistachio nuts. This heart-healthy food, also full of fiber and protein, can be enjoyed as a vegan butter or just on their own.
The kiwifruit, which is technically a berry, could make your skin brighter and help you sleep better. Its consumption is linked with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and could also help to lower blood pressure and manage bowel movements. Buy them fresh from your local farmer’s market, enjoy as a juice, or include kiwifruit in a fruit salad, acai bowl, or alongside some vegan pancakes.
Rich in vitamins A and C as well as magnesium, calcium, and zinc, seaweed might be the superfood of 2019. This salty snack is high in iodine which is vital for healthy thyroid function and managing energy levels, weight, and mood.
You can add dried seaweed to anything from soup to popcorn to trail mix, or sprinkle it among a bowl of veggies. You could also buy organic seaweed snacks by Annie Chun’s. Available in four flavors, they’re non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, and contain no trans fat, cholesterol, or preservatives.
9. Goji Berries
Goji berries, also called wolfberries, contain 18 different amino acids, including all the essential ones, helping to repair body tissue and muscle. The fruit is a sound source of fiber and contains vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and calcium. According to Dr. Mary Jane Brown, Goji berries help manage blood sugar, weight, and cholesterol levels. They also have anti-aging qualities, can boost energy, and could even prevent cancer growth, she notes.
This superfood can improve brain health due to its active ingredient, curcumin. Curcumin is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly interact with the brain and its cells. According to some studies, it can help brain cells grow and assist with memory.
Try turmeric on a plate of scrambled tofu or get its benefits by taking a turmeric supplement, like the one from Vimerson Health, which is said to help relieve joint and back pain, improve digestion, and reduce dry skin.
11. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate, a superfood? The right kind and in moderation, you betcha. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids, a group of antioxidant plant compounds that influence memory and learning. Research has found that people who eat chocolate display better cognitive performance in tasks involving memory, organization, and reasoning.
Sauerkraut is packed with probiotics, which can help with immune health, digestion, and metabolism. “Sauerkraut could also be helpful in preventing sickness, thanks to its antibacterial properties,” Brissette said to POPSUGAR. “Because it’s made from cabbage, sauerkraut is also packed with vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports your immune system, vitamin K for bone health, and fibre, which can help keep you regular and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”
Include sauerkraut in a vegan casserole or stew, or even in a sandwich with seitan.
Research has found that a diet that includes soy protein can lower cholesterol just as much as statins, the most widely prescribed cholesterol medicine. “Look for tofu, soy milk, or edamame — not soy powder,” Somer said. For more soy inspiration, check out the cookbook “Tofu in Ten,” which includes mouthwatering, protein-packed vegan tofu recipes you can prepare in under ten minutes.
14. Green Tea
Research has found that the L-theanine and caffeine found in green tea can give you more mental clarity, offering “clear beneficial effects on sustained attention, memory, and suppression of distraction.” Green tea could also benefit memory and mood.
15. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are rich in monounsaturated fat, which is a good fat, according to BBC Good Food. Eating them also provides protein and nutrients like zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, calcium, and B vitamins. Brazil nuts are the richest known source for the important nutrient selenium, essential for a healthy immune system, helping to prevent nerve and cell damage. Five or six Brazil nuts each day meets the recommended daily allowance of selenium.
The acai, or açaí, fruit, found mainly in South America, is high in antioxidants, helping to boost energy levels. Acai is high in vitamin C and calcium and, research suggests, is beneficial for brain and heart health. Acai berries can be eaten raw or in powder form, easily added to smoothies, juices, cereal, dairy-free yogurt, or even just mixed with water.
You could lower your blood pressure, manage inflammation, boost stamina, and support detoxification with this superfood, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola. Beetroots, also called beets, could also help to fight cancer, strengthen the immune system, and support bone and brain health. Try adding them raw to salads or include them in vegetable juice. You can buy it online in powder form or as a pre-mixed drink, you could even make yourself a beet latte.