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What makes a superfood so super and which foods are they?

Is it possible for food to have super powers? In a sense, yes. There are foods out there that do far more good for your body than others. They're commonly known as superfoods.

Here's all you need to know about these nutrient-rich foods:

What are superfoods?
Superfoods are among the most nutritious on the planet, complete with powerful healing benefits and positive dietary effects. They're so valuable because they're loaded with the good kinds of calories, vitamins and antioxidants, far outranking other dietary options. While many superfoods are fruits and vegetables, there are other foods that make the list as well, including nuts, salmon and turkey.Plate of fruit which contains many of the superfoods

Why should you eat them?
Superfoods pack a powerful punch for boosting your immune system, rejuvenating your health and improving your overall well-being. They can provide your body with necessary vitamins, minerals and fibers, as well as reduce the risk of certain health conditions and diseases. Plus, most are high in proteins that keep you energized all day long.

With such powerful properties, it makes sense that you may want to give up all other foods. However, superfoods are only part of a well-rounded, balanced diet. Eating too much of one type of food limits your body to only certain kinds of nourishment. In general, avoid overindulging in anything - even if it's a superfood.

Which ones should be on your grocery list?
There's a good chance that you're already consuming superfoods, as many of them are staples in normal diets. Remember that the key is to balance your intake of fruits, vegetables and other healthy superfoods. Keep this in mind as you shop for them, as well as taste preferences and personal health conditions.

Your choices certainly aren't limited. You can select from plenty of superfoods, including:

Apples: They weren't lying when they said an apple a day keeps the doctor away. This fruit is a great source of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. Plus, apples are relatively low in calories, which makes them a perfect midday snack.

Avocados: Keep eating your avocado toast because that creamy green goddess is loaded with monounsaturated fats that keep you full longer and promote heart health. However, they are high in calories, so try to limit your schmear. Other health benefits from tasty avocados include aiding in weight loss, promoting metabolic health, lowering cholesterol, reducing risk of deteriorating eye health and limiting osteoarthritis symptoms.Avocado which is a superfood, cut in half on a table

Berries: These fruits have plenty of fiber, vitamins, phytochemicals and natural antioxidants that provide a healthy boost for your immune system. One study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that berries may even help slow memory loss as we age. Other research shows that these sweet fruits may reduce the risk of heart conditions in women. In other words, it's a good idea to load up your fridge with plenty of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries! Acai berries are also a powerful superfood, with nutrients and essential fatty acids that can support the immune system, promote healthy skin and prevent rapid aging, according to One Green Planet.

Broccoli: This classic veggie is a great source of vitamins, fiber and potassium. Broccoli also contains phytochemicals, which can boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and slow the growth of cancer cells, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Dark chocolate: Your sweet tooth has a superfood companion, too. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that promote heart health. Remember that chocolate is still high in fats and calories, so keep your indulgences limited. For the most benefits, wellness experts recommend chocolate bars made from at least 70 percent cacao beans. The higher the cacao percentage, the more antioxidants you'll feed your body.

Dark, leafy greens: The greener the better when it comes to these veggies. Think about your leafy favorites like kale, spinach and collard greens. They can help rid your body of contaminants, promote skin and eye health and manage health conditions. A recent study published in Neurology also linked leafy greens with slower rates of cognitive decline.

Green tea: This soothing drink has played an important role in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, used to treat anything from headaches to depression. According to the National Health Services, green tea leaves are often richer in antioxidants than other teas. As such, drinking green tea has been linked to increasing weight loss, lowering cholesterol and preventing heart conditions.

Legumes: These superfoods are high in protein, potassium and iron, low in fat and rich in the fibers that can help lower cholesterol and maintain blood sugar levels. Think about green peas, chickpeas, lentils and black beans as you shop for this superfood.

Nuts and seeds: These tiny foods are actually loaded with protein and healthy fats. They're also high in calories, so it's especially important to keep moderation in mind with these superfoods. Perfect additions to salads, yogurt parfaits and snack mixes, almonds, peanuts, pistachios and walnuts are among the most popular superfood nuts. As far as seeds go, sunflower, chia and flaxseed are all good options.

Quinoa: This healthy alternative to rice and pasta is far richer in fiber, protein and nutrients, which leaves you fuller longer and comes with many health benefits. According to Healthline, quinoa has more fiber than most grains, contains all of the essential amino acids we need, improves metabolic health, aids in weight loss and contributes to enhancing overall health.

Salmon: High in omega-3 fatty acids, proteins and B vitamins, salmon is the fish to buy. As a bonus, it's also low in calories and saturated fat, helping you meet your weight loss goals. Plus, it can keep your heart and muscles healthy.

Other superfoods to add to your shopping list include: 

  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Kiwi
  • Mushrooms
  • Oranges
  • Peppers
  • Pomegranate
  • Pumpkin
  • Sardines
  • Soy
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Turkey

Superfoods such as berries and almonds arranged on a great looking meal.

Once your kitchen is stocked, try these superfood recipes from Health magazine. The great thing about these nutrient-packed foods is that most of them pair well together for easy meals, such as quinoa and vegetable sautees or spinach salads topped with other superfoods, such as peppers, berries and sunflower seeds. When you need more inspiration, these creative superfood recipes from Greatist will do the trick, including pumpkin spiced oatmeal, chickpeas and dandelion greens, chia crispbreads and pomegranate coconut moose.

Here's to adding a superfood punch to your diet!