Yes, by now, we've heard about them all. But if you're not planning on cooking up any goji or acai berries in the near future, there are easier (and cheaper) superfoods that make delicious snacks and meals.
And no, most superfoods aren't a rare foreign species or out of most people's price ranges — you're most likely already eating some of them, says Joy Bauer, a health and nutrition expert for the TODAY Show.
"Superfoods have the ability to empower all of our organs in our bodies," she said at the second annual St. Lucia Health and Wellness Retreat in Castries.
Bauer's top choices for superfoods include everything from a medium-sized banana as a snack to mixing chia seeds with your morning oatmeal or smoothie. Other superfoods that you may already have in your pantry include everyday cooking essentials like garlic, onions and canned tomatoes.
And for all the right reasons, superfoods are pretty, well, super. Not only do they taste great on their own or mixed with sauces, salads and soups, most superfoods are packed with vitamins and minerals, loaded with disease-fighting abilities, and also have impressive resumes compared to typical foods. For example, one red bell pepper has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange. Bauer says these are truly the "super" abilities of these fruits.
An average female under the age of 50 should be eating at least seven to eight servings of fruits and vegetables, six to seven grain products and two dairy items each day according to Canada's Food Guide. In order to get the most bang for your buck, try replacing your everyday servings with one (or many) of these superfoods.
YUM! 13 of Bauer's favourite superfoods and how you can eat them:
You don't have to rely on fall to get a taste of pumpkin. Pumpkin (even canned pumpkin) is full of fibre that's good for both your skin and body, says Joy Bauer, a health and nutrition expert for the TODAY Show.
EAT IT: Add pumpkin slices to your yogurt or oatmeal mix with a drop of sugar or honey. You can even use pumpkins with tomatoes as taco or pasta sauces — you won't taste the difference!
"A lot of people may get nervous about arsenic in rice," Bauer says. Quinoa is an easy (and tasty) way to replace rice or pasta dishes, she says. It's full of protein — almost twice the amount of protein and fibre compared to brown rice, in fact.
EAT IT: Try an easy quinoa oatmeal by mixing low fat milk or soy milk with berries, walnuts and bananas.
"Spinach does not have calcium for your body but it does have beta carotene (inactive form of vitamin A) and vitamin C," Bauer says. Spinach is also known as nature's multivitamin — it's full of iron, potassium and fibre.
EAT IT: Don't like the taste of spinach? Mix it with your pasta sauce or fruit smoothies to mask the taste.
Red Bell Pepper:
How many oranges would you have to eat to the get the same vitamin C content as one red bell pepper? Two. "Red peppers are sweet and can also help boost your immunity," Bauer says.
EAT IT: Cut a pepper in half and fill it with hummus or bean dip. Yes, you can (and should) eat the bowl.
"The best part about chia seeds? Their impossible to dislike, they taste like nothing," Bauer says. Chia seeds, like flax seeds, are full of omega 3 fats, fibre and helps lower cholesterol.
EAT IT: Take two teaspoons of chia seeds and mix it with your oatmeal or bread crumbs for chicken.
Raspberries in particular, have the highest amounts of fibre for berries, Bauer says. Berries boost brain health by helping our brains function better and make them sharper.
EAT IT: Add your favourite berries on top of oatmeal or pancakes.
Nuts And Seeds:
Pistachios in particular have about 30 calories per handful and make a great snack, Bauer says. Most nuts and seeds are low in carbs and good for your heart's health. Their also good for people who have blood sugar issues, just make sure you avoid salted or flavoured nuts and seeds, Bauer adds.
EAT IT: Two words: naked popcorn. Just add kernels in a brown bag and pop it in the microwave.
Salmon has to be one of the top superfoods for any health benefit. Salmon is packed with omega 3 and even found in canned form (just make sure you read the ingredients and avoid preservatives, Bauer adds).
EAT IT: Mash up salmon and avocado for a great spread.
Turmeric should be added to everyone's medicine cabinet, Bauer says. "Turmeric has the powerful ability to suppress inflammation and boost your body with anti-oxidants," she says.
EAT IT: You can't go wrong with a turmeric infused curry. Try turmeric in chickpea and cauliflower curry or even over a chicken salad.
There's a reason why lentils are the king of legumes. Lentils can be your source or protein and starch in one, Bauer says. It's also more environmentally friendly — it takes less gas to produce lentils compared to meat.
EAT IT: Lentils taste great cooked in salads, curries or try a soup.
Edamame has about 150 calories in two cups. Soybeans are a high quality carb that are also filled with plant-based omega 3 fats, Bauer says. "Edamame is also good for your brain, energy levels and mood."
EAT IT: Steam the beans in the microwave, add lemon juice and you got yourself a tasty snack.
Adding two table spoons of balsamic vinegar to any salad is virtually calorie free, Bauer says.
EAT IT: Replace all those salad dressings with balsamic vinegar.
Contrary to popular belief, bananas are not fattening, Bauer says. A medium-sized banana has about 105 calories, she says. Bananas are loaded with potassium and can even help with constipation.
EAT IT: Freeze your bananas and serve with a a scoop of low-fat ice cream or blend sliced frozen bananas with a bit of almond milk — it's just like ice cream.