4 Science-based 'superfoods' you should be eating

‘Superfood’ is a popular buzzword. Whether the latest fad is imitating Native American corn preparation techniques or eating way too many bananas, most superfoods are just another failed silver bullet, disappointing everyone that bought into the hype in hopes of discovering a shortcut.

The Examine.com editors have come up with a short list of foods that may actually qualify as superfoods, based on existing evidence.


Garlic

Garlic has strong evidence to suggest it can improve circulatory health by facilitating blood flow, reducing blood pressure, and improving cholesterol levels. Garlic also provides antioxidant benefits because it supports the activity of glutathione, an antioxidant enzyme. There is also evidence to suggest garlic consumption may ward off upper respiratory infections. It even has an anti-cancer effect. Eating or supplementing one to two cloves of garlic a day is one of the healthiest habits you can have.


Dark berries

Dark berries, including blueberries, are a rich source of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties and can reduce DNA damage related to oxidation and stress.

Older people can take dark berry supplements or eat dark berries to improve memory. Though the mechanism behind this effect – increasing a growth factor called BDNF – could potentially work for young people as well, more research is needed to confirm this effect.


Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green algae with a 55-70% protein content. It is safe to supplement and provides an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect.

Studies suggest supplementing spirulina can increase bile acid blood levels, a characteristic of Gilbert’s Syndrome. People with Gilbert’s Syndrome are at lower risk for diabetes and obesity, as well as cardiovascular and neurological disease. Animal research suggests spirulina may also be neuroprotective, but studies on people are needed to confirm this effect.

Unfortunately, spirulina is the worst-tasting supplement on this list.


Leafy greens

Leafy green vegetables contain high levels of nitrate. In fact, beets have so much nitrate, beetroot juice is a legitimate ergogenic aid and pre-workout supplement. All leafy green vegetables have relatively high nitrate levels, so picky eaters even have some wiggle room.

Nitrates also improves blood flow by dilating blood vessels. Eating nitrate sources daily will help lower blood pressure over time.


Don’t listen to the hype

‘New’ superfoods are almost always too good to be true. Don’t rely on the media to tell you about new discoveries in the world of food and nutrition. Read the study, and not just the abstract!

Avoiding fads and hype will save you money in the long run. Instead of looking for a shortcut, pick a couple real superfoods to add to your diet, and slowly make changes to your lifestyle habits over time.

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