Quantcast

Dr. Hyman: 5 Superfoods Part of a Healthy Diet

Insights + Opinion

I'm often asked by my patients, "What superfoods are most important to stay healthy?"

I like to think that everything I eat is a superfood. When I walk into the grocery store, which I call the "Farmacy," I like to seek out powerful foods that are going to provide the right information for my body.


Here are my top superfoods:

1. Plant Foods

The vast, colorful array of vegetables represents more than 25,000 beneficial chemicals. Research shows the synergistic balance of these chemicals provides numerous health benefits. I recommend a diverse diet with numerous, colorful, fresh veggies and fruits. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate well more than 800 varieties of plant foods. Today, we don't consume anywhere near this amount. Make that extra effort to include as many varieties of these colorful superfoods as you can.

2. Eat From the Rainbow

Every fruit and vegetable color represents a different family of healing compounds. Red foods (like tomatoes) contain the carotenoid lycopene, which helps eliminate free radicals that damage our genes. Green foods contain the chemical sulforaphane, as well as indoles that inhibit carcinogens to protect against cancer. Simply put: The more color you incorporate, the more health benefits you'll receive.

3. Mushrooms

While visiting China, I discovered folks there knew more about food's medicinal properties than I did even after many years of research. Medicinal foods are a part of their everyday diet and mushrooms play a huge role within Chinese medicine. Reishi, shiitake and cordyceps contain powerful healing properties that boost your immune system and support healthy hormone production. Mushrooms are anti-viral and anti-inflammatory to support healthy liver function, optimized cholesterol levels and anti-cancer benefits. I use them often: I make a reishi tea, cook with shiitake mushrooms and make mushroom soup.

4. Healthy Fats

Healthy cell walls made from high-quality fats are better able to metabolize insulin, which keeps blood sugar better regulated. Without proper blood sugar control, the body socks away fat for a rainy day. The right fats also increase fat burning, cut your hunger and reduce fat storage. Eating the right types of fats makes you lose weight, while eating excess sugar and the wrong types of fat make you fat. So again—avocados, nuts and seeds, wild fatty fish, grass-fed meat, extra-virgin olive oil—these are all superfood fats.

5. Seeds

My three favorite seeds are chia, hemp and flaxseeds. You can add all three super seeds to smoothies, puddings or on top of coconut yogurt with berries. Let's look at their benefits.

  • Chia seeds provide an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that have numerous benefits, including glowing skin and mental clarity. Just one ounce of chia seeds packs a whopping 10 grams of fiber. Its insoluble fiber acts as a prebiotic that feeds friendly gut bacteria and ferments into short-chain fatty acids to support gut health. Chia seeds also contain more protein than most plant foods. And they contain more calcium than milk.
  • Hemp seeds provide healthy omega-3 fats, protein, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and iron.
  • Flaxseeds are another great source of omega-3 fats, dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Flaxseeds have powerful, anti-cancer, hormone-balancing phytonutrients called lignans. Freshly ground flaxseed sprinkled into a smoothie is an excellent way to ease constipation.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Yulia Lisitsa / iStock / Getty Images

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Many people follow the lacto-vegetarian diet for its flexibility and health benefits.

Read More Show Less

By Jared Kaufman

Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Healthline

Made from the freshly sprouted leaves of Triticum aestivum, wheatgrass is known for its nutrient-dense and powerful antioxidant properties.

Read More Show Less

mevans / E+ / Getty Images

The federal agency that manages the Great Barrier Reef issued an unprecedented statement that broke ranks with Australia's conservative government and called for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

A powerful earthquake struck near Athens, Greece and shook the capital city for 15 seconds on Friday, causing people to run into the streets to escape the threat of falling buildings, NBC News reported.

Read More Show Less
U.S. government scientists concluded in a new report that last month was the hottest June on record. Angelo Juan Ramos / Flickr

By Jessica Corbett

As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less
Rod Waddington / CC BY-SA 2.0

By John R. Platt

For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.

Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.

Read More Show Less