Which superfoods should I eat for better health?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Despite what we think, there is probably not some elusive super-food out in a distant rainforest waiting to be discovered. That said, we do know of some extraordinary foods that are already available in abundance.

Berries are increasingly seen as having a profound impact against age-related diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular illness, diabetes and mental decline, thanks to their high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Broccoli is high in fiber and has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering benefits. It’s also rich in sulfur compounds, which are good for the liver and thus strengthen the body’s natural detoxification systems.

Healthy Food - Woman holding fresh blueberries, 86536700
Good nutrition should involve choosing not to eat certain foods frequently, while emphasizing other healthier foods. Fried foods, foods high in sodium, and highly processed foods can certainly be considered “unhealthy foods.” They can be treats but should not be regular daily indulgences. Obviously fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat free dairy products, meat-free proteins and healthy fat sources are your “go to” foods.

Here are some foods you should consider including in a daily balanced diet:
  • Beans -- They are non-meat proteins and add taste and texture to stews and soups and even dips. Beans are chock full of non-meat protein, meaning the saturated fat is missing. Blend beans into pasta sauce to flavor it and also boost protein in your pasta dish, or just throw them into the sauce as is to add texture and health benefits.
  • Sweet potatoes -- Potatoes get a bad rap because we all eat too many potatoes, and we like to eat the white ones fried. What’s nice about sweet potatoes is they have carotenoids, which are phytochemicals associated with promoting health, and they are also rich in fiber. They are also naturally sweet but they rank lower than white ones on the glycemic index scale.
  • Berries -- I know that when they are not in season they can be more expensive, but you can circumvent the cost by buying in season and freezing properly, or just buying frozen bags of berries. Add them to smoothies, morning cereal or pancakes or yogurt, and create salads that include berries for a special twist. They are brimming with varying anti-oxidants, vitamins and fiber.
  • Nuts -- Being mindful that they require portion control, nuts are full of fiber, protein, and magnesium. Many nuts can help you to reach your omega-3 fatty acid daily goals. Consider adding nuts and seeds (small amounts) to cereal, salads, smoothies, homemade trail mix, yogurt, and burgers or just enjoy a small handful daily.
  • Fat-free milk, soy and almond milk -- The key to dairy products is to watch just how much saturated fat you are including in the particular choice. Two percent milk has a similar profile to whole milk, so choose 1% or fat-free milk if you are including it as a regular part of your daily diet. Make fat-free milk richer by mixing it with fat-free powdered milk. Try soy or almond milk -- just make sure it’s fortified with calcium and other vitamins. Use fat-free milk or the other milks in soup recipes, smoothies, on cereal, or in dip recipes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.