Superfoods are a huge health trend right now. They are packed with nutrients and typically carry multiple health benefits. Here we’ll look at some of the top superfoods for both health and teeth (and some super superfoods that show up on both lists)!
Superfoods for Health
Yogurt is higher in calcium than other dairy products, and it also has the added bonus of protein and potassium. It can easily be enhanced with other good foods, such as probiotics for extra nutrients. Even people who are lactose intolerant can often tolerate yogurt. Try eating plain yogurt fortified with vitamin D, and then you can mix in fruit to add sweetness without a ton of calories.
If you don’t like yogurt, skim milk is a great substitute. Actually, most dairy products contain just about every nutrient you need each day, so any dairy is a good option.
Eggs are a great source of protein! They are also packed with 12 different vitamins and minerals, including choline, which is good for brain development and memory. Try to incorporate an egg dish into your breakfast – eating eggs for breakfast may result in eating less calories throughout the day.
Nuts are packed with protein, heart-healthy fats, high fiber and antioxidants. When eaten in small doses, nuts can help lower cholesterol and promote weight loss. Plus, they are extremely versatile! There are many different types of nuts and they can be eaten alone, or you can add them to salads, side dishes, baked goods, cereals or entrees for a little extra crunch.
This little green fruit is full of antioxidants. In fact, one large kiwi meets the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. It is also a good source of potassium, fiber and vitamins A and E. Kiwi can easily be sliced into desserts, salads or sides, or be eaten by itself. It can also have a mild laxative effect due to the large amounts of fiber.
Quinoa is a whole grain that is high in protein, fiber and iron. Quinoa also contains zinc, vitamin E and selenium, which help control weight and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Quinoa can be prepared as rice or mixed in with vegetables, nuts (another superfood!) or lean protein.
A great source of fiber, beans help lower cholesterol (due to the insoluble fiber) and rid your body of waste (due to the soluble fiber). Beans are a low-fat source of protein, carbohydrates, magnesium and potassium. Some beans, such as edamame, contain heart-healthy omega-3s. Beans can be used as a substitute for meat or poultry, or be used as a side dish or in soups, stews or eggs.
Broccoli contains vitamins A, C and K, which helps build bones. It also contains fiber that fills you up and controls weight. Broccoli can be eaten a variety of ways, including raw, steamed, stir fried, roasted and grilled. You can also add it into grains (such as rice), eggs, soups and salads.
Low in calories and saturated fat, salmon is a great protein option! Salmon contains omeg-3 fatty acids, which help protect heart health. It is also a great source of iron and protein. Grill or bake it and you can even top it with a low fat sauce or salsa, or cut some up into a salad. If you’re not big on salmon, some other fish, such as tuna, have similar benefits.
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C, calcium and potassium. They can reverse the effects of sodium and reduce bone loss. Sweet potatoes can be baked and eaten or they can be used as ingredients in a variety of dishes, including some desserts.
Berries are full of phytonutrients, low in calories and high in water and fiber. Berries help control blood sugar and keep you full longer. In addition, berries are packed with antioxidants – blueberries are actually one of the best sources of antioxidants. Eat berries alone, or add to salads, cereals, baked goods or yogurt.
Superfoods for Teeth
Milk contains calcium, phosphates and vitamin D – all essential nutrients for healthy teeth and strong bones. These nutrients help strengthen and repair tooth enamel, thus preventing tooth decay. If you are lactose intolerant, soy milk also offers many of the benefits of regular milk.
Chewing on a piece of cheese generates saliva, which helps fight against tooth decay. Calcium and phosphates found in cheese also help neutralize enamel-destroying acids, and a nutrient called casein fortifies teeth’s surface. Eating a small piece of cheese after meals will help prevent cavities.
Apples also increase saliva flow, as well as scrub teeth’s surfaces to prevent cavity build-up. Apples are also loaded with nutrients, including magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, calcium and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, K, E and C.
Oranges are a great source of calcium and the vitamins C and D. Orange juice can cleanse the mouth by eliminating harmful bacteria and preventing decay. However, it is very acidic, so be sure to rinse your mouth out with water after consumption to avoid enamel erosion.
Yogurt is not only a superfood for your overall health, but your dental health as well! Yogurt is loaded with calcium and protein that help strengthen enamel. Stick with plain, non-fat yogurt for best results, and you can add in some fruit for extra flavor.
Another food appearing on both superfood lists is nuts. Nuts, as stated before, are packed with nutrients that are good for both your health and your teeth. Be careful when chewing, though, so you don’t damage your teeth.
Both green and black tea contain polyphenols that interact with the bacteria that causes plaque. These polyphenols then either kill or suppress the plaque, which prevents further growth of the bacteria and the production of tooth-attacking acid. If you need to sweeten up your tea, try using honey instead of sugar, as it will not attract as much bacteria as plain sugar would.
Good news for chocolate lovers: dark chocolate actually helps prevent tooth decay! Cocoa contains a nutrient called tannin, which prevents tooth erosion and decay by combating gum inflammation. Cocoa also reduces plaque growth, lowers acid production and promotes blood circulation in gums. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants with disease-fighting properties.
Licorice (not the typical candy, but the sugar-free kind you can get from an Italian deli) is a natural breath freshener that helps prevent cavities and plaque. Stick to the lighter colors, and it is best eaten in small amounts.
Liver contains vitamins A and D, which help prevent gum disease and reduce decay. Vitamin D also increases the ability of the body to calcify and mineralize teeth and bones.
Another great source of vitamin D, mushrooms help strengthen teeth due to the absorption of calcium from the bloodstream. Shiitake mushrooms are especially effective in lowering plaque buildup.
Because of the many health benefits, superfoods are great to include in meals, and many can even be eaten as a nutritious snack. Next time you’re hungry, try grabbing one of these foods instead of a more unhealthy option. Not only do they have several health benefits, they also taste good! And check out our previous article for more tips on healthy foods to get at the grocery store.
What is your favorite superfood?