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BR’s List of Top 10 Super Foods

We've all heard the buzz about super foods, those superheroes of nutrition that save your body from obesity and disease while raising your energy levels. Food manufacturers and restaurants have caught onto the craze and seem to bill everything from muffins to sports drinks as "super." Curious about which foods truly lived up to the title; I conducted some research of my own and then created this top 10 list of super foods.

1. Salmon - Whether you like it grilled, broiled or raw as sushi, salmon is one of the best sources of omega fatty acids around. Eat just 3 ounces of the fish, and you'll have consumed 100 percent of your body's daily requirements for omega 3. Studies have found that omega 3 helps with brain function, improves cardiovascular health and can keep joints healthy and strong. Just make sure to opt for wild-caught salmon, which is lower in calories and richer in nutrients than farmed.

2. Organic Tea - Organic red, green and black teas are very rich in antioxidants, nutrients that fight the free radicals that cause our bodies to age. In clinical studies, green tea has been found to lower one's risk of developing cancer, slash cholesterol levels and even improve hardening of the arteries in men with heart disease.

3. Acai - Another excellent partner in the fight against free radicals, the acai berry contains more than 10 times the amount of antioxidants found in grapes. Acai berries are also high in dietary fiber and contain all of the amino acids that your body requires. If you choose to drink acai berry juice, be sure to look for 100 percent pure juice rather than drinks with acai berry flavoring.

4. Hot Peppers - Capsaicinoids, the chemicals in hot peppers that make them so intense on the palate, are remarkably good for the body. These natural chemicals fight inflammation and are shown to alleviate symptoms of arthritis, increase the metabolism and lower the risk of cancer. Chili peppers contain double the amount of Vitamin C found in oranges, making them excellent for boosting the immune system.

5. Quinoa - Sometimes lumped in with grains, quinoa is actually a seed that is very rich in amino acids, fiber and protein. In clinical studies, quinoa has been shown to improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Quinoa is easy to add to the diet because it can be used as a substitution for rice and almost all types of grains.

6. Seeds - Nearly all seeds provide massive doses of key nutrients that are highly beneficial for the body. For example, flaxseed is the best dietary source for cancer-fighting lignans, and just one-quarter cup of sunflower seeds gives you half of your day's vitamin E requirements. When purchasing roasted seeds, be sure to check sodium levels or purchase raw seeds to add to recipes or roast on your own.

7. Yogurt - Calcium is absolutely essential to bone health and is particularly important for women as we age. One serving of yogurt has more calcium than a single serving of whole milk or cheese. In fact, the only natural food with more calcium per serving than yogurt is sardines. When choosing yogurts, opt for Greek varieties, as these tend to contain double the lean protein found in traditional yogurt.

8. Spinach and other Leafy Greens - Turns out Popeye really was strong because of his spinach. This green contains 500 percent of one day's dose of vitamin K, which is essential to bone health and helps with blood clotting. Other leafy greens are also excellent sources for key nutrients, such as collard greens, which contain vitamin A and nutrients that are essential for eyesight. Mustard greens, kale and watercress are additional nutritious greens. It’s best to consume your greens raw…such as, in salads, smoothies and sauces in order to get the full benefits of their nutrients.

9. Garlic - Flavonoids in garlic encourage the body to produce the antioxidant glutathione, which is vital to fighting disease and promoting cardiovascular health. Garlic is known to lower the risk of some forms of cancer, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, boost brain functioning in Alzheimer's patients and help the immune system fight illnesses.

10. Avocados - Every healthy diet must include some fats, and you won't find a healthier source than avocados. Studies have found that avocados help the body to absorb key nutrients, particularly when consumed simultaneously with a wholesome food, such as in a salad, sauce or on a sandwich.

I hope this list will help you make better decisions at mealtimes and incorporate more wholesome, nutritious foods into your diet. While you simply can't eat all of these super foods every day, make it a goal to eat at least one or two daily. For specific dietary advice about how many super foods your body requires, talk to your doctor or see a nutritionist.

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