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With cold and flu season upon us, chances are you’re looking to boost your immune system. Hands down, the best way to do so is by eating a diet rich in nutritious foods, including super greens.
Here are five of the best greens and other superfoods when it comes to fortifying your immune system and fighting off the flu!
What Makes Them a Superfood
Blueberries are chock full of antioxidants. They’re particularly rich in anthocyanins — the pigment that gives blue and purple foods their vibrant color. Anthocyanins have been linked to cancer prevention, improved cardiovascular health, and increased longevity.
In addition, blueberries are high in Vitamin C and soluble fiber. They are known to reduce inflammation, which can be beneficial not just in avoiding the winter sniffling, but in reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Blueberries may contribute to better memory and motor coordination, and have great anticancer fighting power than other fruits.
How to Incorporate Blueberries Into Your Diet
Few of us can resist eating blueberries by the handful! Of course, they’re also delicious when incorporated into muffins, quickbreads, pancakes and waffles — but if you’re baking with them, choose whole-wheat flour and unrefined sweeteners for a healthy treat.
Top oatmeal with blueberries, toss them with granola for a great yogurt topper, or throw a handful onto your salad.
On the go every morning? Try a sweet, fruity smoothie made with a frozen banana, a few handfuls of frozen blueberries, some raw kale, almond or soy milk, and a tablespoon of chia seeds.
What Makes Moringa a Superfood?
Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock for the past few years, you’re already aware of kale’s status as the darling of the foodie scene. And kale is indeed a super green, no doubt about it. But kale might soon be booted from the spotlight by moringa, the newest of the super greens to become trendy.
What is it? Moringa oleifera is a large tree that is native to Northern India. While almost all parts of the plant offer medicinal value, it may be easiest for those of us in the U.S. to obtain powdered moringa, made from the leaves and pods.
Compared to kale, moringa has double protein, four times as much calcium, six times as much iron, and a incredible 48 times kale’s vitamin B2.
Moringa is rich in antioxidants, including beta-carotene, quercetin, Vitamin C, and chlorogenic acid. It offers 19% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin B6.
How to Incorporate Moringa into Your Diet
The fresh leaves of Moringa can have a slightly bitter taste, in addition to being difficult to find. Many companies are incorporating this superfood into juices, teas, and nutrition bars.
You can also purchase moringa in powder form and add it to your smoothies, oatmeal, soups or stews, and even cookies!
Cabbage and Other Brassica Vegetables
What Makes Cabbage a Superfood?
If you’re only consuming cabbage once a year alongside your corned beef, or maybe in a summertime slaw, it’s time to rethink this nutritious vegetable.
Cabbage and its cruciferous cousins, including broccoli, bok choy, and brussels sprouts, offer a huge array of health benefits. First off, cabbage is rich in indoles, a substance which has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of cancer.
Cabbage and related super greens are high in dietary fiber, making it great for your digestion. As an anti-inflammatory, it can improve heart health and overall immune system function. Brassica vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Best of all? Cabbage is low in calories, so you can consume plenty of it without sabotaging your waistline!
How to Incorporate Brassica Vegetables into Your Diet
Cabbage is extremely versatile. It can be used raw in salads, Asian noodle dishes, or coleslaws. Shred it and add it to nearly any kind of soup or stew. It’s also wonderful roasted or braised.
To turn cabbage or bok choy into extra-super super greens, try fermenting them! Sauerkraut and the Korean dish kimchi are two fantastic ways to get a probiotic boost along with cabbage’s other health benefits. Both kraut and kimchi are also easy to make at home.
What Makes Seaweed a Superfood?
If there were an award for “Most Underappreciated Superfood” it might well go to seaweed — at least here in the United States. People in Asia, Britain, Scandinavia, and elsewhere have been wise to the health benefits of various seaweed varieties for centuries.
Seaweed has been associated with a lower risk of breast cancer in Japanese and South Korean women, as well as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. It offers tremendous antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
Seaweed offers a wide range of vitamins and minerals and a good dose of protein, too. Super greens, indeed!
How to Incorporate Seaweed into Your Diet
You may already be familiar with nori from sushi rolls, but this variety of seaweed packs an umami punch that makes it very versatile. Sprinkle it on popcorn, rice, or salads. Use it in salad dressings. You can even buy prepackaged nori snacks flavored with wasabi for a quick, nutritious nosh anytime.
Wakame, kombu, and dulse are other popular seaweeds. Dulse, when pan-fried, is actually a perfect vegan stand-in for the bacon in a BLT!
What Makes Pomegranates a Superfood?
This beautiful red fruit is one of the healthiest superfoods you can eat. Pomegranates are a good source of protein, vitamins C and K, folate, potassium, and fiber.
Pomegranates have potent anti-inflammatory properties, and have been linked to lower risk of both prostate and breast cancer. They may help lower blood pressure, and there’s some evidence they can offset symptoms of arthritis.
How to Incorporate Pomegranates into Your Diet
The “seeds” of a pomegranate are actually known as “arils,” and they’re deliciously sweet. Try them on yogurt, cereal, salads, or just on their own. Contrary to popular belief, pomegranates aren’t that hard to peel and eat, either.
Pomegranate juice can be mixed with seltzer for a refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail, added to smoothies, or used in salad dressings. Middle Eastern cuisines also make good use of pomegranate molasses.
What Super Greens and Fruits Are Your Favorites?
Have you tried moringa or seaweed? What’s your favorite way to use blueberries or pomegranates? Have we left your favorite super greens off the list? Let others know what you think in the comments!