If you look up the definition of a superfood, you’ll likely find something along the lines of “a nutrient-rich food considered especially beneficial for health and well-being.” This definition may sound vague. That’s because it is. There’s no official or regulated definition of a superfood. Even so, there are foods that rise to the top when it comes to the nutrients they offer.
Superfoods can help you get the most nutrition bang per bite. They provide more fiber, vitamins, minerals and/or phytonutrients compared to other foods. Though you may initially think of exotic foods like açai, moringa, maca or goji berries, there are plenty of everyday superfoods in the produce section. Since it’s winter and start of a brand new year, I thought I’d highlight a few of the season’s hottest superfoods
- Cauliflower. This cruciferous vegetable has grown in popularity over the past few years. It’s packed with cancer-fighting compounds and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Enjoy cauliflower raw, simply roasted, in a stir-fry or pureed into soup. Jump on the “cauliflower rice” trend with ease by picking up a package of riced cauliflower in the produce section next time you shop.
- Chicories. Haven’t heard of this one? Chicories are those bitter winter greens like endive and escarole or purple radicchio. They are a good source of vitamin C and may also help boost heart health. Use endive to scoop and serve a bread-free tuna or chickpea salad. Grill or sauté radicchio for a warm winter salad or toss it into vegetable soup.
- Pomegranates. Pomegranates are one of the few foods that aren’t always easy to find. That’s not the case in the winter. They thrive in cooler temperatures from October to January. Pomegranates are known for their antioxidants. A beautiful, sweet-tart addition to greens, smoothies, and winter fruit salads, pomegranates are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins C and K.
- Winter Squash. Though pumpkin gets all of the attention in the fall, it’s not the only gourd in the patch. Roast or puree an acorn, delicata, kabocha or butternut squash for some variety. Enjoy the different winter squashes prepared sweet, savory, curried or spicy. With a deep orange to yellow flesh, winter squash is bursting with vitamin A (as beta-carotene), vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Bonus: Roast or dry the seeds and enjoy a protein and magnesium rich snack or salad topper.
- Matcha. Though matcha is available anytime you want it, this green gold is a warm and comforting answer to cold temperatures. Regular green tea is a popular healthy brew. Matcha (a green tea powder) takes it to another level. Because you drink or eat the entire leaf, you get more. Chock full of polyphenols, matcha is lauded for its anti-aging properties. Importantly, it may help lower the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. And if you’re trying to stay focused on your goals this year, sip on this. Matcha is known to boost mental alertness too without the jitters you might get from other caffeinated drinks.
This list is not at all comprehensive. It’s just a sampling of the many superfoods available at this time of year. Put one or all in the rotation for a super new year.
NOTE: I wrote a version of this article for Sprouts Farmers Market.