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Superfoods are foods that have great benefits to your health and wellness, how you feel, and yes, even how you look. The American diet today contains way too many processed foods, fat and sugar, not to mention all the chemicals we can't pronounce and our bodies can't process such as trans fats (did you know that trans fats are only one molucule away from being plastic?). Another such common ingredient in processed foods is high fructose corn syrup, which seems to be in everything nowadays.

Whole, unprocessed foods have nutrients that act at a cellular level to slow aging, improve energy levels, vitality, and skin appearance. Superfoods, also called functional foods, contain Phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals). These Phytochemicals and other antioxidants help fight the oxidants that our bodies are exposed to everyday by pollution, smoke, sun, and yes, even exercise. Here are some of those Superfoods that should be included in your everyday diet (per day values):

Blueberries (all berries, cherries, purple grapes)

Blueberries are the highest in antioxidant value of all the groups Suggested intake: 1-2 cups per day Nutrients: Polyphenols, fiber, folate, vitamin C, potassium, iron, magnesium, phytoestrogens Potential Health Benefits: Brain & eye health, cancer & diabetes Brain & eye health, cancer & diabetes prevention, heart & urinary tract health, decreased inflammation prevention, heart & urinary tract health, decreased inflammation

Broccoli (cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, collard, bok choy)

Suggested intake: 1/2 - 1 cup Nutrients: Glucosinolates, sulforaphane, B-carotene, folate, vitamin C& K, calcium, iron, fiber •Potential Health Benefits: cancer prevention, immunity boost, strong bones, fight birth defects

Spinach (kale, collards, mustard/turnip greens, arugula, romaine lettuce)

Suggested intake: 1 cup steamed or 2 cups raw Nutrients: Lutein, beta- carotene, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins C/E/B, polyphenols, conenzyme Q10 Potential Health Benefits: decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, most types of cancer, cataract

Dried Beans (black, kidney, pinto, lentils, navy, garbanzo, green peas, sugar snap peas)

Suggested intake: 1/2 cup Nutrients: protein, fiber, phytonutrients, B vitamins, iron , folate, potassium, magnesium Potential Health Benefits: lower cholesterol & blood pressure, reduce cancer & heart disease risk, stabilize blood sugar

Oats (ground flaxseed, wheat germ, brown/wild rice, barley, buckwheat, couscous)

Suggested intake: whole grain foods with >3 grams fiber per serving Nutrients: fiber, beta glucan, protein, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium, thiamin Potential Health Benefits: decrease cholesterol/LDL & heart disease risk, risk for type II Diabetes and metabolic syndrome, risk for several cancers and stroke

Tomatoes (watermelon, pink grapefruit, persimmon, papaya)

Suggested intake: 1 serving Nutrients: Lycopene, vitamin C, carotenoids, lutein/zeaxanthin, B vitamins, fiber Potential Health Benefits: reduces risk of many cancers (especially prostate), decreases risk of heart disease, acts as natural sunscreen,

Walnuts (almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, pumpkin, sunflower seeds)

Suggested intake: 1 oz (2 Tbsp) 5 x per week Nutrients: Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, polyphenols, protein, fiber, plant sterols, B6, melatonin, arginine Potential Health Benefits: reduced risk for heart disease and diabetes

Soy (tofu, soy nuts, edamame, tempeh, miso)

Suggested intake: 10-15 grams Nutrients: Phytoestrogens, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, iron, floate, protein, fiber, selenium Potential Health Benefits: decreases cholesterol & blood pressure, reduces cancer risk, decreases risk of osteoporosis

Yogurt (Kefir, soy yogurt, Greek yogurt)

Suggested intake: 2 cups Nutrients: live active cultures, calcium, protein, B12, magnesium, zinc, CLA Potential Health Benefits: decreased risk of colon and breast cancer, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, regulates bowel function, decreases uro-vaginal infections, helps with weight control

Salmon (Alaskan halibut, albacore tuna, herring, sardines, trout, sea bass, clams, oysters)

Suggested intake: 3-4 oz portion 2-4 times per week Nutrients: Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, selenium, protein, potassium Potential Health Benefits: all cell integrity, decrease risk for stroke, insulin resistance, asthma, autoimmune disorders, ADHD, depression/mental disorders

Wow! Now that's a big list. Now don't get stressed out. If you are already including these foods in your daily diet, congratulations! but if you are not, don't get overwhelmed. Just start with one or two of these foods and add them to whatever you eat normally. Once you do that, just keep increasing the amount to the recommended intake. Take small steps to a healthier you. You will FEEL the difference!

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