Family health

The top 20 superfoods

When it comes to nutrition, here are the leaders of the pack. Technically, this is a list of 19 foods and one drink, but that didn't make for a great headline.

By Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh

The top 20 superfoods

Photo: Jodi Pudge

Top superfoods

Popcorn

It’s all about air-popped here, people. A great source of fibre, popcorn is an easy and fun sugar-free snack for kids.

Brown paper bag of popcornPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Avocados

Ideal for babies just beginning solids, the healthy fat, vitamin C, potassium and folates in avocados are just as good for big kids and parents. Try adding half an avocado to your next morning smoothie.

Ripe avocado cut in halfPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Whole grains

Make the switch. Your kids already love bread, pasta and rice, right? So begin your pantry makeover right here where newcomers will likely receive a warm welcome. They’ll be getting more fibre, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and we bet they won’t even notice, especially if you start slowly by mixing your old faves with healthier versions.

spreading peanut butter on whole grain toastPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Kale

Frankly a bit of a show-off when it comes to nutrition, kale is loaded with vitamins A, C, K, B6 and folate, plus minerals like calcium and iron. Afraid your kids will revolt? Try swapping it for basil in a pesto and watch it disappear.

Kale leaves on a tea towelPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Blueberries

Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, blueberries also protect against cell damage and reduce the risk of heart disease. Getting the recommended 1⁄2 cup serving three to four times a week is a breeze if you toss them in smoothies, add them to muffins and sprinkle them on a bowl of cereal.

Bowl of blueberriesPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Natural nut butters

When it comes to nut butters, reading labels pays off. You can buy versions with hydrogenated fats, salt and sugar (but why would you?), or you can get jars of just plain nuts. Add a spoonful to a morning smoothie for extra protein.

jar of nut butterPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Eggs

There’s a reason a slogan like “the incredible edible egg” exists. This protein powerhouse has a nifty nutrient by the name of choline that helps boost brain development. Anyone for over easy?

Hardboiled egg, sliced on a trayPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Mango

A fun alternative to oranges when you’re looking to make your vitamin C quota, mangoes also deliver a healthy dose of glutamine acid, which is known to boost memory. Try sliced over cereal or salads.

Two mangos on a white backgroundPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Salmon

There’s a reason they call fish brain food: The high levels of omega-3s found in salmon make it an important brain builder (as well as a protector against cognitive decline, parents!).

Raw salmon on paperPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Applesauce

Applesauce is the way to go if you want to add more fibre to your children’s diet, and it contains vitamins A and C. Just be sure to select a brand that doesn’t add any bells and whistles that increase sugar content. Tip: Make your home baking a little healthier and sub applesauce for a portion of the butter.

Jar of applesauce with cinnamon sprinkled on topPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Chia

If your reference point for these teeny seeds is the novelty animals, then meet your new superfood. Touted as a great source of protein and omega-3 and 6, these black or white seeds are like super-canteens, holding 10 times their weight in water, which helps you stay hydrated. Try tossing two tablespoons into baking, or on your morning yogurt or oatmeal.

Bowl of chia seedsPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Dark chocolate

A balanced diet has to include some treats—families cannot live by kale alone! And when that treat is a couple of squares of dark chocolate made with at least 70 percent cocoa, you get the antioxidant power of flavonoids, plus essential minerals like manganese, copper, iron and magnesium.

Dark chocolate barPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Flax

Ground flax can boast about its mineral and vitamin content but where it really shows off is in fibre and omega-3’s (healthy fats), which promote heart health and brain function. Sprinkle it over yogurt, or add it to muffin recipes.

Flax seeds scattered on white backgroundPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Greek yogurt

Because Greek yogurt is strained, it has less moisture (hello, creamy!), so it delivers nearly double the protein of regular yogurt. Use it instead of sour cream in a dip, or on a baked potato.

Bowl of yogurt topped with goji berriesPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Legumes

Going meatless at least one day a week is one of the single best moves you can make for your family’s health, as eating less meat is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Chickpeas, black beans and lentils all make dinners filling without the fat.

Bowl of legumes like chickpeasPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Oatmeal

The fibre in oatmeal has been shown to protect against heart disease, regulate blood sugar levels, and may even reduce the risk of asthma. All in a little bowl of porridge. Serve it up for your family’s breakfast a couple of days a week.

Bowl of oatmeal flakesPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Quinoa

Typically considered a grain, quinoa is actually a seed that comes close to chicken in terms of protein. It also contains all the essential amino acids, which are vital for body function. Give hot quinoa cereal in the morning a shot in place of your usual cold cereal.

Bowl with raw quinoaPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Sweet potatoes

Off the charts when it comes to immunity boosting vitamin A, sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, potassium and dietary fibre. 

cutting sweet potato on cutting boardPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Goji

These tart berries may be tiny, but contain a major dose of vitamins C, A and E. Goji’s antioxidants help build strong immune systems and fight infection. Use them in place of dried cranberries in a batch of granola bars.

Goji berries scattered on counterPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Water

Almost every function of the body requires water to work effectively. Your family can get water from milk, vegetables and fruits, but take it easy on the juice and fizzy drinks. The sugar in even the purest fruit juice should make it a “sometimes,” not an “always,” drink. Save that title for water.

Glass of waterPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Read more:7 immunity-boosting recipes30 healthy lunch ideas for kids13 easy superfood recipes

This article was originally published on Oct 09, 2018
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