Goji berries, quinoa, spirulina and so many more — anyone interested in finding new foods that can potentially add a little something extra to their healthy diets has spent years seeking out (and trying to pronounce) these exotic items. But what if the 'superfoods' were actually right in front of you all along?
Healthy eaters know the vegetables in their meals can serve up plenty of nutritional goodness (and sometimes even more when combined together), but the label of 'superfood' gets reserved for the next big thing, usually discovered in a Brazilian rainforest with a price tag to match.
But that's not necessarily the case, says TOPS Club, a non-profit weight-loss support organization. The company, which gives its clients eating plans along with health information, says there are plenty of hidden benefits in the foods you're probably already buying.
HuffPost blogger and health and wellness expert Rose Reisman is a huge advocate for fresh foods, and warns against the things that may be hiding in processed items, noting that, "About 30 years ago fast, processed or packaged food were the anomalies." Like many others in the health field, she recommends using as much "real" food as possible.
So, in appreciation of the unheralded edible powerhouses that could already be in our diets, check out these 10 common superfoods. Have some more suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments below.
10 Common Superfoods
Beans, beans, they're good for your heart — for real. According to TOPS, everything from kidney beans to chick peas to lentils can help with hypertension, heart disease and cholesterol levels. This is all thanks to the complex carbohydrates, fibre and minerals found within these powerful pellets.
Best known for its "negative calorie" effect (note: you have to eat a LOT of celery for this to matter), these stalks do include nutrients that can fight free radicals, not to mention apigenin, which is currently being researched as helping to prevent breast cancer.
Garlic is actually one of the more well-known superfoods on this list, touted as a great immune booster, particularly during cold season. TOPS also notes the delicious bulb can help reduce blood pressure, provide anti-clotting features, and give your body a dose of vitamins C and B6.
Onions are divisive — some can't live with them, some can't eat near them — but there's no question about what they can do for our bodies. As TOPS says, research is currently taking place to investigate the polyphenol and sulfur compounds in onions, which could have effects on cancer risks, immune function and heart health.
Kids may hate 'em, but peas go a long way toward helping everything from your eyes (with beta-carotene and lutein) to your heart (thanks to fibre and a low sodium content). Not a fan of the little green veggie? The same health benefits apply to garden, snow, snap dried and other types of peas.
Black pepper is one of the most common ingredients in any dish, which is pretty fantastic, considering it has no calories and a great flavour. It has anti-cancer properties and can help with inflammation, according to TOPS, while also reducing gas in the intestines (meaning less bloating after the meal).
The staple of stir-fries, bell peppers also go a long way toward getting you some important daily nutrients. According to TOPS, "peppers offer powerful anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of certain cancers."
Anyone who loves snacking will be happy to hear sunflower seeds have a ton of health benefits. Its biggest nutrient is vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory properties — and is actually better absorbed via food than by supplements, according to Livestrong. Among other things, sunflower seeds also have phytosterols, compounds that help reduce how much cholesterol your body absorbs.
Yes, those tiny seeds on your bagel are actually doing something more than making a mess on your plate. According to TOPS, sesame seeds are a source of copper and manganese, which can help with bone and connective tissue creation (aiding in arthritis relief and osteoporosis further down the road). Other nutritional benefits include calcium, magnesium and iron.
Canned food on grocery stores shelves can get a bad rap, but tomatoes actually retain many of their nutrients, including lycopene (which isn't available in fresh tomatoes), vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and iron, according to TOPS. One thing to watch out for is the salt content — choose a brand with a low-sodium option.