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“Super foods” are simply natural foods that contain dense nutrient content, extremely beneficial to one’s health. Here is a list of powerful super foods, which support the physiological and psychological systems essential to preserve one’s optimal health and vitality. Maintaining a healthy diet, alongside regular exercise and stress relieving habits (meditation, yoga and mindfulness for example) can slow down the aging process, increase one’s physical health, boost immunity and improve our overall sense of well-being.

Healthy Skin, Hair and Eyes

Blueberries – This tiny little berry was ranked number one in antioxidant activity by the U.S. Department of Agriculture compared to 40 common fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants in blueberries protect you from premature aging, so snack on a handful or add half a cup to your yogurt or cereal every day.

Wild Salmon (not farm-raised) is one of the best food sources for omega-3 fatty acids, which helps keep your skin supple and moisturized. Salmon also has selenium, a mineral that protects the skin from sun exposure. The vitamin D in salmon keeps your bones and teeth strong and healthy as well.

Spinach -This leafy green vegetable is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Spinach is loaded with lutein, which keeps your eyes healthy and sparkling. Spinach is also a good source of vitamins B, C, and E, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Try a spinach salad instead of lettuce, or sauté spinach as a side dish to any meal.

Walnuts are often underestimated for their powerful nutritional value. Walnuts promote smoother skin, healthy hair, brighter eyes, and strong bones. You can get your daily dose of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E by eating a handful or throwing them in your salad, pasta, or dessert.

Sweet Potatoes are antioxidant (age fighting) powerhouses! Packed with beta-carotene, copper, vitamin C, biotin, vitamins B2 and B6, fiber and unusually high levels of Vitamin A, they help neutralize the damaging effects of oxidation caused by free radicals. Free radical oxidation is believed to be a primary cause of age-related degeneration and disease. All these nutrients have also been proven to improve skin texture and elasticity and to boost immunity.

Bone & Joint Health

Greek Yogurt is rich in calcium, protein and other nutrients. Calcium promotes optimal bone health and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease. Consuming enough protein is also vital for bone health. As a bonus, Greek yogurt contains probiotics, the good bacteria that may restore a healthy bacterial balance within the gut.

Milk is not only capable of fulfilling one-third of daily calcium needs but also supplements vitamin D, which promotes smooth absorption of calcium in the body. If you have difficulty digesting milk, try drinking lactose-free milk or milk made from the A-2 protein as an alternative.

Wild Salmon is one of the richest sources of vitamin D. Just 3 ounces of salmon can supplement 90% of daily vitamin D needs of the body. This food is also a rich source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it a perfect food for healthy bones.

Legumes, Nuts & Whole grains provide magnesium and other health-promoting nutrients that are crucial for keeping bones dense and strong. Increasing the consumption of whole grains and legumes (beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.) promotes good health and increases the absorption of minerals (including magnesium) that combats bone degeneration.

Leafy Greens contain an optimum dosage of key vitamins that promote bone health. Leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard are rich in Vitamins K, C and folate (Vitamin B). Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin, is associated with lower rates of hip fracture in older people. Vitamin C is not only an immune system builder, but also supports the structure of your bones. Adding a half cup of any of these vegetables to your daily diet fulfills 50% of your daily needs of this vitamin.

Heart & Vascular Health

Steel Cut Oatmeal is one of the best foods to combat bad cholesterol (LDL) . You may already know this fact, but you may not realize the amazing job it does. It’s a fact: No matter what health organization is doing the test, whenever the subject turns to cholesterol-lowering foods, oatmeal tops the list. In addition to lowering cholesterol, eating oatmeal lowers blood pressure and may help prevent diabetes.

Almonds – Eating just a handful of almonds each day has been found to lower LDL cholesterol by as much as 9 percent. In addition to lowering cholesterol, almonds are loaded with the antioxidant vitamin E and essential minerals. But perhaps the best thing about almonds is that they actually contain the “good” monounsaturated oils, not nasty saturated fats. So they can fill you up without getting you fat.

Olive Oil, which does not contain saturated or trans fats, helps to inhibit blood clotting . The longevity of people who live in Mediterranean countries and their low rate of heart disease have long been attributed to their widespread use of olive oil. Olive oil can help lower LDL cholesterol and help prevent blood from clotting in the arteries, which could potentially lead to heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening conditions.

Pomegranate. Drink pomegranate juice to get heart disease-fighting benefits. Pomegranates contain powerful medicinal properties. Pomegranates decrease bad cholesterol and cholesterol plaque build-up, lower blood pressure, fight atherosclerosis, improve blood flow to the heart and have significant antioxidant effects throughout the entire body.

Brain Health & Stress Relief

Pistachios – Eating pistachios may reduce acute stress by lowering your blood pressure and heart rate. These delicious little nuts contain key phytonutrients that may provide antioxidant support for cardiovascular health. When you have an ongoing loop of negative thoughts playing in your mind, doing something repetitive with your hands may help silence your inner monologue. The rhythmic movement of shelling nuts will help you relax. Plus, the added step of cracking open a shell slows down your eating, making pistachios a diet-friendly snack.

Dark chocolate – Did you know that a bite of dark chocolate (not the entire bar!) might have the power to regulate your stress levels? Research has shown that it can reduce your stress hormones, including cortisol (the stress hormone). Also, the antioxidants in cocoa trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. Finally, dark chocolate contains unique natural substances that create a sense of euphoria similar to the feeling of being in love! Go for varieties that contain at least 70% cocoa.

Avocado – This amazing super fruit contains B vitamins for healthy nerves and brain cells. Feelings of anxiety may be rooted in a B vitamin deficiency. Avocados are rich in these stress-relieving B vitamins. Bonus: They’re also high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, which help to lower blood pressure. Eating avocados also makes you feel full and satisfied which can help you avoid snacking out of stress or boredom.

Cashews – One ounce of cashews hold 11% of the daily recommended value of zinc, an essential mineral that may help reduce anxiety. This is likely because zinc affects the levels of a nerve chemical that influences mood. If you’re already getting enough zinc, then it may not help your mood to chow down on cashews but they are also rich in omega-3s and protein, so they’re a smart snack no matter what.

Maca ( Lepidium meyenii ) is a perennial plant that grows high up in the Andes Mountains. Growing in some of the most hostile regions on the planet, Maca thrives where other plants cannot. Maca is similar in size and shape to a white turnip and has been used by people indigenous to the Andes mountain ranges for thousands of years. The herb is being used by Peruvians to improve mental activity, boost energy levels and sexual drive. Maca helps decrease the blood-cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands of the body that help to deal with stress but can have adverse effects of one’s health.

Adding any of these powerful foods can help prevent health issues as well as fighting existing issues on a systemic level. Our bodies react to the foods we feed it! If we saturate our bodies with sugar, fried foods (bad fats), processed foods etc. – our systems work overtime to process and eliminate the ‘junk’ from our arteries, blood and organs. The result is usually lower energy, depressed mood, and a spike in craving for more bad food! The opposite is true when it comes to clean, highly nutritional foods that the body can distribute and digest easily – resulting in more energy, vibrant health and overall well-being.