Your mother probably didn’t use the word “superfood” when she reminded you to eat your vegetables, but she knew what she was talking about. Common greens like spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower are packed with nutrients that promote good health. While the veggies from your childhood dinner table are still good choices, today’s nutritionists sing the praises of a far wider range of foods that go farther when it comes to good health — and depending on your lifestyle, some might be suited better than others for you. Whether you love to run, need more energy, feel stressed, or want to remember people’s names at a party, eating the right superfood can help.
Whether you’re making a big presentation at work, mixing and mingling at a party, or trying to coordinate your family’s schedule, life is easier when your brain is sharp and your memory is strong. A handful of blueberries each morning might be just the thing your brain needs. Bursting with sweet flavor, these little blue morsels have one of the highest levels of flavonoids — plant-produced compounds that help keep your brain’s neurons firing smoothly. Toss a handful of berries into a cup of Greek yogurt, blend them into a smoothie, or enjoy them on their own several times a week. Bonus: They’re also packed with antioxidants.
When the day ahead calls for all you’ve got, you need a dose of energy to pick you up and carry you through. If you feel your energy start to fade, it’s time to reach for…a cup of coffee. Yes, coffee is back, and in a big way. Not only does a cup of Joe provide a caffeine-fueled burst of energy, but it also is chock-full of antioxidants — helping to increase your metabolism, decrease your appetite, and improve your overall heart health. But before you order that Grande Latte with Caramel Drizzle, note that coffee is healthiest when served up black. Adding sugar, dairy products, and flavored syrups will rack up the calories and subtract from the benefits. Remember to limit your coffee intake to the morning and early afternoon so as not to interfere with your sleep.
Occasional sleeplessness strikes everyone. Instead of reaching for a sleeping aid that will leave you groggy in the morning, pour yourself a glass of kefir milk. This Russian fermented milk drink tastes similar to yogurt, and has been appreciated for centuries for its calming benefits. Today, we know that it’s kefir’s hefty dose of the amino acid tryptophan — yep, the same chemical that puts you into nap zone after eating Thanksgiving turkey — helping you drift off into sweet sleep. Kefir is also loaded with probiotics that improve your digestive health.
You play hard, and you sweat hard. Whether it’s CrossFit, hot yoga, a trail run, or a vigorous session on the tennis court, after a good workout, you want a refreshing drink that re-hydrates you and cools you down. Forget about sugary sports drinks; instead, reach for a bottle of coconut water. This clear, coconutty liquid is the fluid from the center of green coconuts, and has fewer calories, more potassium, and less sodium than most man-made sports drinks. It will leave you feeling energized, refreshed, and ready for the rest of your day. When purchasing coconut water, make sure to select a brand without added flavors or sugar.
Sometimes life gets a little too hectic, and anxiety or depression is the result. When you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the demands placed upon you, chocolate can lift you out of the doldrums. But don’t take that as a license to binge on candy bars. When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Pass by the white or milk chocolate in favor of bars with at least 70 percent raw cacao bean. This somewhat bitter bean contains natural antidepressants that boost your brain’s levels of serotonin and dopamine, along with phenylethylamine, a natural mood-boosting chemical. For best results, limit yourself to one ounce of the treat each day.