Today we have a guest post on Taste & See by Helen Sanders that's all about a few everyday "superfoods" that we can easily find in our local grocery store or farmer's market and without an expensive price tag. I hope you enjoy what she has to share!
Helen is chief-editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Their goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. They pride themselves on making sure their actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.
Everyday Superfoods - What makes them special?
The term “superfood” has been frequently used in the last few years to describe foods that are said to be amazingly good for your health. Often, food that’s labelled as a superfood is something we’ve never heard of before – who knew what spirulina was ten years ago? But what if there are some everyday superfoods sitting right on our local grocery store shelves – or even in our refrigerators? Wouldn’t that be something? There are many everyday foods that have amazing health benefits. They deserve the title of superfood just as much as the less common, only grown on one mountainside in the world kind of superfoods, that have appeared on the market in recent years. Here are some everyday superfoods that provide some fabulous benefits to health.
1. Sweet Potatoes
According to some, sweet potatoes are just about the healthiest food on the planet. They are a great source of vitamins A, C, D and some of the B vitamins. Sweet potatoes also contain potassium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, and fiber plus a wide range of phytochemicals, including antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatory compounds . In terms of health benefits, sweet potatoes are said to:
- Help regulate digestion and prevent constipation
- Reduce inflammation
- Help to control blood clotting and red blood cell production
- Improve immune system function
- Reduce the risk of certain types of cancer
Tomatoes are low in sugar, high in water and contain twelve out of the thirteen vitamins, twelve different minerals and a whole host of other plant compounds, including lycopene. As a powerful antioxidant, this phytochemical alone has been shown to have a huge range of beneficial effects on health . There is evidence to suggest that the health benefits of tomatoes might help:
- Keep skin healthy
- Protect the digestive system
- Boost the immune system and prevent inflammation
- Reduce the risk of some cancers
- Help develop healthy teeth, bones, and soft tissue
One of the most underrated and least expensive foods, oats are a great source of fiber, protein, B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. Oats also reduce inflammation and contain antioxidants which absorb harmful free radical chemicals in the body. For such a humble food, oats have an impressive range of health benefits:
- Regulate of digestion and prevent constipation
- Helps in the treatment of eczema and other skin irritations
- Control of blood cholesterol levels
- Promotes cell growth and repair
Good old broccoli is another secret everyday superfood. It is a great source of fiber and contains an impressive range of vitamins, minerals, and other health-giving plant compounds. When eaten raw – either alone or added to salads - or cooked as lightly as possible, most of these healthy nutrients are retained. Broccoli has been found to:
- Have strong anti-inflammatory properties
- Act as an antioxidant
- Play a role in the detoxification mechanisms in the body
- Promote blood vessel health
- Decrease the risk of certain types of cancer
This pungent member of the lily family packs a powerful punch in terms of flavor and health benefits. It contains vitamin B6 plus numerous minerals and phytochemicals, and research has proven some incredible health benefits . The only downside of garlic is the odour, but as it’s so healthy, just feed it to everyone you know, and nobody will notice! Here are some of the main health properties of garlic:
- Promotes heart health
- Decreases the risk of infection (garlic is a natural antibiotic and antifungal agent)
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory
- It has antioxidant properties
- Promotes healthy liver function
These are just a few examples of foods we take for granted that have massive health benefits. Who’s keen for a sweet potato oat bake with tomatoes, broccoli, and garlic?
 Chandrasekara A, Kumar TJ. Roots and Tuber Crops as Functional Foods: A Review on Phytochemical Constituents and Their Potential Health Benefits. Int J Food Sci. 2016 Apr 3.
 SELF Nutrition Data. Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average [Internet]. Available from: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2682/2.
 Bayan L, Koulivand PH, Gorji A. Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014 Jan;4(1):1-14.