5 Humble Superfoods You Almost Never Hear About
Everywhere you look, you can find lists with headings like, “Top 10 Health Foods” and “Most Surprising Superfoods.” Some foods, though, rarely make these lists despite offering plenty of benefits. So here’s one more collection of foods you should be eating, especially those that don’t receive the recognition they deserve.
Nutrients: Mushrooms, for instance, offer a wealth of nutrients although they are not rich in color. They are loaded with copper, B vitamins, potassium and antioxidants. The perfect diet food, one serving of mushrooms contains only 20 calories and 0 grams of fat.
Studies: Today, maitake and shiitake mushrooms are being studied for potential cancer-fighting properties. The shiitake may also help boost the immune system and fight heart disease.
Cooking: Varieties include the popular white button, crimini, shiitake and portabella. Each has its own unique flavor and can be enjoyed raw, cooked or dried.
Nutrients: Rich in vitamins A, C and E, pumpkins help fight free radicals and promote healthy skin. High levels of magnesium, fiber, pantothenic acid, potassium and zinc can also be found in this fruit.
Studies: The nutrients this food contains allegedly prevent and alleviate conditions like cancer, inflammation, kidney stones, depression, skin complaints and parasitic infections. And thanks to its content of L-tryptophan, pumpkins prevent depression and encourage a bright outlook.
Nutrients: Few people know this, but popcorn is a wholegrain. Half of a small box of popcorn from the movie theater is equivalent to one daily portion of brown rice or whole wheat pasta. But this food, loved by people the world over, contains three times more fiber than sunflower seeds, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer and balances your blood sugar levels. It even has a dose of B vitamins to boost energy levels.
Studies: Popcorn, known largely as an unhealthy cinema snack, may prevent cancer and even help dieters. A study presented in 2009 to the American Chemical Society suggests popcorn’s real health benefits could lie in its surprisingly large polyphenol content, which helps stop free radicals that cause cancer and heart disease.
Cooking: Just take care when adding salt or sugar to your homemade version so you don’t counteract this food’s natural nutrients.
#4. Baked Beans
Nutrients: The humble baked bean is a nutritional powerhouse of protein, iron and calcium. Its combination of high protein, which keeps muscles and bones healthy, and low-GI carbohydrates, which release their energy slowly, keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Studies: The insoluble fiber in baked beans moves into the large intestine where bacteria act on it, thus producing fatty acids believed to nourish the colon lining and protect it from cancer. Meanwhile, the tomato sauce is an excellent source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant shown to help prevent disease.
Cooking: The only caution is this: tinned baked beans can be high in sugar and fat, so opt for low-sugar, low-salt varieties to keep them healthy.
Nutrients: Their high levels of melatonin can help replenish the body’s supply of this natural sleep aid and regulate sleep. Another benefit is anthocyanins, the natural chemical that gives cherries their vibrant red color. Anthocyanins produce essential amino acids in the body to protect cells from the damaging effects of nitrogen, oxygen and UV radiation. Cherries may even help with weight loss because they are high in water content and low in fat.
Studies: Small in size but packed with powerful nutrients, cherries can help ease pain, lower cholesterol, fight memory loss and reduce stress.One study found that eating a diet enriched with cherries lowered total weight and body fat, especially fat concentrated in the mid-section, which is a significant risk factor for heart disease.