A nutritionist breaks down superfoods into the nutrients keeping us healthy
There’s no shortage of information about superfoods. But how about superfood groups—those culinary categories that help define a healthy diet? Registered dietician, nutritionist and FAU professor Sareen S. Gropper says the following food groups provide essential nutrients the body needs to maintain health and prevent disease. “Diets should contain a variety of foods within a food group and across food groups to ensure adequate nutrient intakes, promote health, and [to] reduce risk of chronic diseases,” she writes in an email to Boca magazine.
VEGGIES AND BERRIES
Diets high in leafy green vegetables, as well as berries, contain hundreds of phytochemicals including anthocyanins, flavanols, flavonols, isothiocyanates, lignans and phenolic acids, to name a few. These compounds help prevent heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, according to Gropper.
GREEK YOGURT AND KEFIR
These are good sources of protein, and they provide some calcium, riboflavin, potassium and other nutrients. “The bacteria in these foods help create a favorable environment within the intestine that reduces inflammation and encourages the growth of healthy bacteria,” she says.
Legumes and lentils provide some protein and are rich in fiber, low in fat and offer many phytochemicals, including isoflavones and tannins. “Consumption of legumes several times per week (at least two to four) is recommended by the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet,” Gropper says.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
These essentials, such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, help prevent platelet aggregation, reduce inflammation and can help reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension. Omega-3 fatty acids also might reduce triglycerides in those with high serum triglycerides, she says. “Cold-water fatty fish are an excellent source of these fatty acids,” Gropper says.