Eleven Superfoods You Ought To Know About

by Dr. Jonny Bowden on June 19, 2009 · 1 comment

By Dr. Jonny Bowden


Knowing is not enough; we must apply!”


 – Goethe


There’s a lot more to foods than just the nutrition they contain. Some can act as medicines, helping to tame inflammation in the body, or protect cells from DNA damage. Others can act as aphrodisiacs (see number 2 below). Still others can protect your memory.


Superfoods are “super” precisely because they offer more benefits than what you can find on the “nutrition facts” label. Every one on this list qualifies!


1. Blueberries


These amazing berries are on anyone’s list of superfoods. Recent research shows that they’re brain food — feeding blueberries to rats actually slows their age-related mental decline. Blueberries contain pterostilbene, a plant compound recently shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Their ORAC value  (antioxidant rating) is the highest of any fruit. And blueberries are rich in fiber.


Tip: try them frozen. They taste like sherbet!


2. Maca


Based on a long history of traditional use in Peru, maca has recently become known as a “natural Viagra”, and is popular as an aphrodisiac, and for increasing fertility and stamina. (I talked about it in my book ‘The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth” as part of a natural treatment for restoring sexual potency.) But maca’s also a superfood from a nutrition point of view.


It’s an important staple for the Andean Indians, has been around since 3800 BC and is rich in sugars, protein, starches and essential minerals, especially iron and iodine. You can buy it as a supplement, or, even better, as a powder which you can add to shakes.


3. Cherries


Cherries are absolutely loaded with anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, anti-cancer compounds that don’t show up on your average nutrition facts label. These include quercetin, a member of the flavonoid family which has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.


Cherries also contain anthocyanains which act like natural COX-2 inhibitors, reducing pain and inflammation. That’s one reason why they’re so great for gout. My favorite “healthy” desert- frozen cherries mixed with full fat yogurt. Tastes like Cherry Garcia  only way better for you.


4. Guava


Among the superfoods of the world, guava  is a sleeper. With a taste that’s been described as “part strawberry part pear”, one low-calorie cup of this vitamin rich fruit contains a whopping 8 grams of fiber. And in one widely used nutrition lab test for antioxidant power, guava scored second only to blueberries, and right behind kale. Guava also contains cancer fighting lycopene.


5. Kale


Kale  is a member of the brassica family, vegetable royalty that boasts cabbage and broccoli among its relatives. It’s simply loaded with nutrition. It’s rich in potent cancer fighting substances called indoles, and loaded with bone-building vitamin K.


Kale also contains sulforaphane, a powerful nutrient that helps the liver detoxify carcinogens and other toxins. Kale has the highest antioxidant rating of any vegetable and is ridiculously low in calories. Try it tossed with olive oil, a few dried cranberries and some pine nuts.


6. Sardines


These are the best kept nutrition secret in the world when it comes to health foods and the secret weapon of travelers looking for a cheap, portable, easily available source of protein. Sardines are rich in omega-3 fats, and one of the least contaminated of any seafood since it’s so low on the food chain. Eat them out of the can or throw them on some salad.


7. Coconut oil


This superb oil has been long neglected as a healthy oil because it contains saturated fat. But not to worry: the saturated fat in coconut is a very healthy kind called MCT  (medium chain triglycerides) which is easily burned by the body for energy. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, a natural anti-viral and anti-microbial. And today’s excellent virgin coconut oil – unlike the inferior products of a few decades ago – doesn’t contain trans-fats.


Note to skeptics: The Puka Puka islanders consumed 80 % of their diet from coconut products and had virtually no heart disease.


8. Green tea


Here’s a superstar beverage if there ever was one. Green tea helps with weight loss and helps fight against cancer. It contains EGCG , a catechin (plant compound) which stimulates metabolism and has anti-cancer properties to boot. Green tea also contains theanine, a natural relaxant which helps explain why the caffeine in green tea doesn’t make you nearly as jittery as coffee.


9. Flaxseeds


Flaxseed oil is one of the only plant sources of omega-3 fats, but the flaxseeds themselves provide the added nutrition benefit of fiber along with the omega-3’s. Flaxseeds can be thrown on salads, tossed into smoothies, or sprinkled on vegetables. They also contain lignans, a group of plant nutrients that have been studied by the National Cancer Institute for their cancer preventive properties.


10. Eggs


The protein source against which all others are judged. And for goodness sake, stop with the egg white omelets. The yolk is loaded with good stuff! Half of the measly 4.5 grams of fat are actually monounsaturated fat, the same heart-healthy fat that’s in olive oil. The yolks are also one of the best sources of lutein, the superstar of eye nutrition. Plus they contain choline, which helps support brain function and help keep harmful homocysteine levels down. Look for the new designer eggs with increased omega-3 content.


11. Pomegranate juice


If you’re wondering if all the hype about pomegranate juice is for real, stop wondering: it is.


Animal studies suggest that pomegranate juice combats artherogenesis (hardening of the arteries) as well as other cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and heart attacks. It’s rich in antioxidants and has a higher amount of polyphenols– heart healthy plant compounds– than even red wine. Look for the pure pomegranate juice (not the watered down cocktail). You can always dilute it with water or mix it with other juices.


In the long run, the rules for healthy eating are a lot simpler than you might think:


Eat food that your ancestors could have hunted, fished for, gathered or plucked.


If its food your grandmother would have recognized as food, it’s probably good for you.


And if it doesn’t have a bar code, so much the better.


About the Author:  Jonny Bowden, PhD, C.N.S. is a board-certified nutrition specialist, author and nationally known expert on weight loss and nutrition.  His work has been endorsed by many well-known specialists of integrative medicine and nutrition including Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Barry Sears (who calls him “one of the best”) and Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, (who calls him “the personal health coach I would want in my corner no matter what”).  For more advice on staying fit and healthy, check out his site at JonnyBowden.com.


[Editor’s Comments:  We currently enjoy most of these superfoods in our house.  The only exceptions would be the maca (don’t need it J) and the sardines (yuck!!!). My kids really love blueberries, and I eat them almost every day.  We go through a huge container…sometimes two…each week. 


If you’re interested, Dr. Jonny just announced his first ever Diet Boot Camp Challenge.  This lifestyle transformation challenge kicks off on July 6th, and it has the potential to make a real difference in your life.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Kelly Rudolph June 19, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I don’t think I’ll become buddies with Sardines but this is a great article to share. Lots of yummy foods on the list! It’s nice when things that are good for you actually taste good!

I recall stopping at a ranch house in the San Joaquin Valley in California, years ago, to pick up a gallon of pure Pomegranate juice for my mom to make Pomegranate Jelly with. The family sold one gallon for $6. Mom thought that was expensive.

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