7 Healthy Superfoods to Work Into Your Diet This Year

Susannah Shmurak

by | Read time: 5 minutes

Looking for ways to live healthier this year without a lot of sacrifice? One of the easiest ways to protect long-term health and improve your diet is to incorporate plenty of delicious “superfoods” rich in compounds linked to better health.

Goji Berries in Wooden Scoop on Blue Surface to Represent Healthy Superfoods | Vitacost.com/blog

What are superfoods?

“Superfood” isn’t actually a technical term, but rather a popular shorthand used to identify foods exceptionally high in nutrients or compounds linked to health benefits like protecting cognitive function and cardiovascular health, or reducing cancer risk.

The antioxidants these superfoods contain counter unstable atoms in our bodies called free radicals, which can damage cells and DNA, leading to health problems like cancer, neurological disease and inflammatory conditions like diabetes and arthritis.

When we eat a diet rich in compounds that combat free radicals, we reap long-term benefits for health, and we may also see short-term results like smoother skin, as antioxidants can have anti-aging effects.

Some of the nutrients with the greatest antioxidant potential include vitamins C and E, flavonoids, tannins, carotene, lignans, selenium and omega-3s. Foods considered “super” are especially rich in one or more of these compounds.

While many superfoods that have garnered media attention are exotic and expensive, many others are reasonably-priced and easy to get. Working more of these accessible superfoods into your diet could help prevent chronic disease and support wellness overall. Better still, they taste delicious!

Here are some of the top superfoods to give a boost to your healthy diet this year.

Top 7 Healthy Superfoods

1. Green Tea

Sipping a delicious warm beverage sounds like a pretty easy move to make for better health, doesn’t it? Adding green tea to your rotation can help increase antioxidant consumption and may promote brain health and reduce risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Green tea consumption has been linked to longevity and may also protect skin from the aging effects of sun exposure.

Get it into your diet:

Green tea comes in many exciting flavors. You can go with plain green tea, or try floral jasmine or toasty genmai. Pukka’s incredibly smooth Clean Matcha Green also contains turmeric and numerous health-supporting herbs like nettle and dandelion root.

You can also try matcha, a powder made from green tea leaves, as a warming drink or added to smoothies or treats. These chocolate-dipped matcha bites have the added antioxidant power of chocolate and sunflower seeds.

2. Dark Berries & Red Fruits

While blueberries and açaí have gotten the most attention for their high concentration of antioxidants, other dark berries like elderberries, mulberries and blackberries are also rich in antioxidants, as are red grapes, cranberries, plums, raspberries, pomegranates, currants and cherries.

Get them into your diet:

Add frozen berries or berry powder to your smoothies or morning oatmeal, take a daily spoonful of elderberry syrup, or try a berry-based dessert, like this blueberry chia parfait.

Add dried mulberries or blueberries or to trail mix, or snack on delicious dried cherries or cranberries when you’re looking for something to satisfy a sweet tooth. Sip some tart cherry juice in the evening, as research suggests it can help promote sleep.

3. Legumes

Like dark berries, dark beans are rich in antioxidants, especially black beans, red beans, lentils and pinto beans.

Get them into your diet:

Legumes make a delicious base for bean and lentil salads, as well as vegetarian chili, vegan burgers and numerous satisfying soups. This hearty lentil soup has turmeric, garlic, and spinach, making it truly “souper.”

4. Cocoa, Cacao & Dark Chocolate

Chocolate lovers rejoice! Rich in flavonoids, research suggests that chocolate has a beneficial impact on cholesterol, blood pressure and cognitive function and has been linked to a reduction in heart disease risk.

If you’re adding chocolate to your diet in the name of better health, be mindful of sugar and other less healthy ingredients often found in chocolate products.

Get it into your diet:

Use cacao or cocoa powder to make homemade hot chocolate that’s so much healthier than too-sweet hot cocoa mixes, which often don’t actually contain much cocoa. Go easy on the sugar or try an alternative sweetener.

When choosing chocolate bars, look for a high percentage of cacao and steer clear of those made with lots of palm oil and other not-so-healthful ingredients. Dark chocolate bars typically contain 70-95% cacao, and the higher the percentage, the greater the concentration of beneficial flavonoids.

Next time you’re baking up treats, try these black bean brownies that combine the antioxidant powers of cocoa and black beans.

5. Sunflower Seeds

The humble sunflower seed deserves more respect and a more prominent place in our diets.

A one-ounce serving of sunflower seeds contains more than a third of the RDA of vitamin E and a quarter of the copper. These nutrients play important roles in immune function, and many of us don’t get as much as we need.

Sunflower seeds also provide B-1, B-6, manganese, selenium, phosphorus and magnesium, vitamins and minerals that affect not only our immune systems, but also our sleep, muscle function, and numerous other bodily processes.

Get them into your diet:

Snack on sunflower seeds by the handful, sprinkle on salads, add to overnight oats, or use sunbutter in energy bites. You can make your own sunflower seed butter or sunflower seed milk from sunflower seeds as well.

Sprouted sunflower seeds may have better bioavailability. You can buy them pre-sprouted or sprout them yourself.

6. Turmeric

The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory that has been studied for its beneficial effects on inflammatory conditions like arthritis, IBS and cardiovascular disease.

It’s important to understand that the ground turmeric in our spice cabinet is only about 3% curcumin by weight. If you’re planning to use turmeric medicinally, you might want to take a supplement.

Studies have found that black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin by up to 2000%, so add black pepper to your turmeric recipes or choose a supplement that contains piperine.

Get it into your diet:

Try adding turmeric to your popcorn or make this mouth-watering vegan turmeric veggie bowl filled with other antioxidant-rich vegetables.

7. Leafy Greens & Crucifers

Leafy greens like spinach and chard and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbage are packed with nutrients, including some we don’t often get from other foods, like vitamin K and carotene.  The sulphurous compounds in crucifers may have a protective effect against some types of cancer.

Get them into your diet:

In addition to tasty salads filled with these nutritious veggies, throw them liberally in homemade soups and stir fries. Roast brussels sprouts and cauliflower to bring out their natural sweetness. Crunchy kale chips make a healthy alternative to potato and tortilla chips.

If you’re not a huge fan of green veggies on their own, adding a little spinach, kale, or broccoli to your favorite smoothie can help up your consumption of these nutritional powerhouses. Or try some greens powder in your smoothies or soup. Amazing Grass superfoods powder has cacao and berry extracts in addition to greens to make getting a hefty dose of superfoods as easy as possible.

Incorporate some (or all!) of these superfoods into your diet this year to reap the benefits of their superpowers and enjoy a super-healthy 2021!

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.