The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
You've probably heard the term superfoods—it's often applied to things like brown rice, spinach, yogurt, tomatoes and other healthy fare—but have you ever wondered what makes a food super? It's about efficiency: Superfoods not only pack more nutritional punch per bite than other foods do, they also have other properties that directly support the immune system, cut down on inflammation in the body, support mental health, and boost energy, stamina and longevity. You can't ask for much more than that from a single food.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
But here's a reality check: No food is super unless it tastes good, too, because otherwise you wouldn't be willing to eat it. With that in mind, here's my top 10 list of energy-boosting superfoods that everyone should eat on a regular basis.
These are arguably the most perfect superfood because they're high in fiber, protein, potassium, magnesium and other minerals. Oats are best eaten at breakfast because the fiber they contain is digested slowly, which stabilizes blood sugar levels all day. Oats have been shown in large-scale studies to lower cholesterol, which is why they're considered a heart-healthy food. If you're not a fan of oatmeal (I confess: I don't care for it), you can sprinkle them onto a bowl of cold cereal or yogurt, sneak oats into turkey meat loaf, or toss them into salads or casseroles for a nutritional boost.
This gluten-free grain has more protein than any other grain or rice. It's so rich in amino acids (such as lysine, cysteine, and methionine) that it's actually considered a complete protein (generally, complete proteins are only found in animal products). The amino acids help with muscle repair after exercise, while the folate, magnesium, and phosphorus in quinoa support energy levels.
Try serving it up as a curried "risotto."
In addition to being loaded with powerful antioxidants and energy-boosting carbs, blueberries contain vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, magnesium and fiber. Research suggests that these nutrients, along with the phytochemicals (health-promoting compounds that give plants their pigment) in blueberries, boost immune function and lower depressive symptoms by stopping the buildup of free radicals. This helps the body and mind recover from stress and cellular injury faster.
Loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (in particular, docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA) that improve heart health, salmon is also a stellar source of protein. The American Heart Association recommends having fatty fish like salmon at least twice a week. Dietary intakes of fish and omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce depressive symptoms and improve cognitive function. Salmon's energy-boosting effects are related to improved metabolism, including the more efficient use of oxygen in the body during exercise.
Just be sure to avoid farmed slamon.
A source of healthy fats, avocados are full of fiber, potassium, vitamins A and E, and folate. They're also a good source of an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, which improves the metabolic aspects of heart health including levels of oxidative risk factors, blood fat levels and inflammatory markers (like homocysteine, which is often elevated in fatigue-causing conditions like diabetes, arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome).
Not only is it low in fat and a good source of protein, but turkey contains the amino acid tyrosine, which elevates levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, brain chemicals that keep you more alert and focused. (Don't worry that eating turkey will make you sleepy because of its tryptophan; turkey doesn't have much more of this amino acid than chicken or fish does.) It also contains vitamins B6 and B12, which have been shown to ease insomnia and depression and boost energy.
Used for 5,000 years in Chinese medicine to stimulate energy and mental acuity as well as lower stress, goji berries are believed to increase bloodflow, causing energy-enhancing oxygen to flow more freely throughout the body. These bright orange-red berries are concentrated sources of antioxidants; they can be eaten raw, cooked or dried like raisins.
Packed with protein and fiber, almonds also contain calcium, potassium, phosphorus and vitamin E. What's more, they're a rich source of magnesium, which plays a key role in converting sugar into energy. Having low levels of magnesium in your body can drain your energy and cause sleep problems and leg cramps.
These legumes are powerhouse sources of low-fat protein, fiber, iron, potassium, zinc and folate. They're also rich in selenium, a mineral that may be a natural mood enhancer; studies have linked low selenium levels to poorer moods and lower energy levels. The fiber in these petite legumes stabilizes blood sugar.
Here's how to cook lentils.
Loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron, and potassium, this leafy green vegetable is also a solid source of protein and fiber—and it's very low in calories. In addition, it's packed with flavonoids, phytochemicals with antioxidant properties, which is why kale earns one of the highest ORAC ratings among vegetables.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.