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"Dr. Hyman, you often talk about superfoods and their benefits," writes this week's house call. "Can you share some of your favorites?"

I realize "superfood" carries a certain hype, but some foods do earn that status. Food is medicine. And some foods are more powerful medicines than others! Food is the most powerful tool to create optimal health. Food is the first and most powerful drug in my arsenal to treat patients.

I've discussed numerous superfoods and you how to get them into your diet in The 10- Day Detox, Eat Fat, Get Thin and my other programs.

Here, I share five superfoods I frequently enjoy that you should also incorporate into your eating plan.

1. 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.

2. MCT Oil

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs are a special type of fatty acid derived from coconut oil. You can get them in coconut oil or as a stand-alone oil. I've written about how studies show MCT oil can help with weight loss, cognitive ability and much more. This super fuel becomes an instant-energy source because MCTs get rapidly burned and metabolized very efficiently, absorbing directly into the gut and then liver, so MCTs don't get stored as fat. You can add MCT oil to smoothies, coffee or veggies. MCTs also provide powerful antioxidant support to strengthen the immune system. Animal studies show MCTs also benefit liver and gut function.

3. Glucomannan

Fiber is vital for so many reasons, including feeding friendly gut bacteria. Studies show fiber can prevent obesity, reduce risk for chronic diseases and decrease aging. That's because fiber slows the rate food enters your bloodstream and increases the speed of food exiting through the digestive tract. Dietary fiber also helps balance blood sugar and cholesterol levels, aids in quick release of toxins from your gutand curbs your appetite. Glucomannan is a soluble, fermentable and highly viscous dietary fiber from the root of the elephant yam, also known as konjac. The konjac tuber has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy and to make traditional foods like konjac jelly, tofu and noodles. You can find glucomannan as a supplement called PGX. It mixes easily into water for an easy, effective fiber source.

4. 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.

5. 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 adiverse diet with numerous colorful whole foods. 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. 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 chemicals sulforaphane and isocyanate, 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.

The tremendous power at the end of our forks becomes far more powerful than anything we find in a pill bottle. Functional Medicine ultimately rests on one central principle: Taking out the bad and putting in the good.

By JJ Virgin

That hyperbolic headline stared me front and center recently while I patiently waited in my grocery line. Reluctantly, I grabbed the weekly and thumbed straight to the article claiming a specific "superfood" could make you lean and energetic while upping your libido.

Uh, huh. I rolled my eyes, winced and put the magazine back.

Every year or so, one of these supposedly miraculous foods makes headlines. Often with little or no science to back their claims, writers create frenzied buzz that ultimately benefits magazine sales rather than your health.

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Like a has-been former A-list actor, these foods inevitably fall out of favor because they're arcane or otherwise inaccessible, don't live up to their hype or people just get tired of hearing about them.

That got me thinking: What super-hyped foods actually earn their permanent stay at the table? I came up with these seven. They aren't miracles, but incorporating them into your meals yields impressive gains (or losses, if you will).

1. Lentils

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Studies show a high-fiber diet creates lower overall body weight. Lentils become tops for fiber as well as protein and nutrients.

"A cup of lentils contains a nice amount of protein—about 18 grams," wrote Dr. Jonny Bowden in The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. "But best of all, that same cup contains a whopping 16 grams of fiber. Lentils are also a terrific source of folate and a good source of at least seven minerals."

2. Coconut


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Coconut contains a special type of saturated fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which your body prefers to burn than store. Studies show compared with other oils, MCTs can help you burn more fat. Coconut oil provides a delicate flavor with medium-heat cooking, while unsweetened coconut milk provides healthy fat for protein shakes.

3. Blueberries

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Fresh or frozen, organic blueberries pack quite a nutrient punch and satisfy your sweet tooth. Nature packed these guys with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and all kinds of other goodness that cumulatively spike your health while lowering their sugar impact. In fact, studies show blueberries help normalize blood sugar levels and reduce your risk for diabetes. They're also high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that improves insulin sensitivity and insulin's ability to get glucose out of your bloodstream.

4. Green tea


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If you run into me late morning or early afternoon, chances are I'm sipping iced or hot green tea. Antioxidants and lower caffeine amounts are two reasons green tea becomes my drink staple. Studies show this popular beverage's fat-burning benefits become more pronounced when you combine green tea with exercise. Green tea contains L-theanine, a calming amino acid that dials down the chronic stress that makes you fat and miserable.

5. Coffee

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One study found coffee contains higher antioxidants than even green tea. (You should drink both). Those are among the reasons studies find coffee drinkers live longer. Quality and quantity become key. Stick with a cup or two of Bulletproof Upgraded (my favorite because it's mycotoxin-free), be aware about caffeine's jittery and other effects and don't use a gargantuan cup of dark roast to compensate for crappy sleep or chronic stress.

6. Swiss chard

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Move over, kale; you've got a rock star leafy-green contender.

"When I first looked up the lab analysis of the nutritional content of Swiss chard, I had to go back and check twice to be sure there wasn't a mistake," writes Bowden. "The amount of nutrition in this baby is so spectacular I thought it was a misprint; but no, it's absolutely true. Swiss chard is an excellent example of a nutritional powerhouse that delivers the goods for almost no calories." Among its gazillion benefits, studies show Swiss chard can help fight cancer.

7. Avocado

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Whether you slice it onto a salad, eat it as a mini-meal or make guacamole with kale chips, avocado becomes a super-fruit (yes, fruit) packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found avocado "improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome."

Bowden points out avocados also contain 11 to 17 grams of fiber as well as nutrients like potassium, folate, vitamin A and carotenoids like beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin.

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