15 superfoods you should start eating now

This year’s hot list of nutritional powerhouses includes ricotta and prunes.

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Raspberry ketones, weight loss supplements
(Photo Masterfile)

1. Raspberries
Fresh raspberries have twice as much fibre (8 g per cup) as blueberries and the frozen ones contain double the vitamin C of frozen blueberries. They score extra points as one of the best sources of ellagic acid, a powerful antioxidant thought to inhibit cancer-cell formation.

2. Beets
A great source of folate, which guards against birth defects, beets may help detoxify carcinogens and relieve inflammation. The greens are rich in eyesight-saving lutein and zeaxanthin, so eat them too.

3. Safflower oil
Olive oil gets the glory, yet safflower oil, a polyunsaturated fat, deserves praise too. A recent study found cooking with it increased lean muscle, stabilized blood sugar and torched belly fat — which could be promising news for people with diabetes and those battling the bulge.

4. Rainbow trout
Packed with protein and low in saturated fat, this delicious fish delivers a wide array of nutrients, including vitamin D and heart disease-fighting omega-3s.

5. Cabbage
Like kale, its dark, leafy cruciferous cousin, cabbage deserves top billing as an excellent source of sulforaphane, which is known to boost production of enzymes that detoxify carcinogens and may also be particularly protective for those with colon cancer-susceptible genes.

6. Barley
With a nutty taste and a chewy bite, this grain is great for people on wheat-free diets and boasts almost twice the fibre of brown rice. Both hulled and pearl barley contain hefty amounts of beta-glucans, hunger-busting fibres that have been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

7. Prunes
Prunes, or dried plums, are not just good for relieving constipation. The phenols in prunes may preclude brain-cell damage, and clinical trials indicate that they may reverse bone loss. And there’s another bonus: The fibre in prunes generates “friendly” gut bacteria — the kind that kill pathogens and aid digestion.

8. Cauliflower
Don’t let its lack of green fool you! The anti-carcinogens in cauliflower, such as isothiocyanates, may slow cancer-cell growth. Plus, a cup of cooked florets delivers over 90 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, an anti-inflammatory.

9. Parsley
More than a garnish, parsley is full of beta carotene, which may bolster immunity and alleviate arthritis. Just two fresh tablespoons provides 70 percent of the daily intake for vitamin K, low intake of which may be linked to weak bones.

10. Button mushrooms
Contrary to its humble reputation, this mushroom is a health warrior, armed with cancer-fighting selenium and energy-boosting vitamin B12. Mushrooms may combat obesity, too: A recent study found that they satisfied hunger just as much as red meat, but for 65 calories and zero fat!

11. Sea veggies
From dulse to kelp to nori, sea vegetables feature a full array of minerals, including iodine, which helps keep metabolism strong. They also supply lignans, compounds that may rid fat cells of excess estrogen, elevated levels of which raise breast-cancer risk.

12. Black beans
Full of diabetes-fighting fibre, black beans are loaded with magnesium, which facilitates calcium absorption and supports a healthy immune system. What’s more, they contain tons of antioxidants — on par with plums and 10 times the amount in tomatoes!

13. Ricotta
Half a cup of this versatile dairy do-gooder contributes 14 g of protein and 25 percent of the daily intake for calcium; research has found that the calcium in dairy may enhance post-meal fat burning. Opt for part-skim varieties to cut calories and fat.

14. Rutabagas
Sky-high amounts of potassium in this root veggie help sink blood pressure and ease muscle cramping after tough workouts. A dieter’s dream, rutabagas also contain less than half the calories and carbohydrates of sweet potatoes, as well as a good dose of slimming fibre.

15. Oat bran
Already love oatmeal for breakfast in the morning? Why not try oat bran instead? Culled from the husk of the oat, oat bran offers more soluble fibre, which soaks up and eliminates harmful LDL cholesterol. Lower in calories than regular oats, oat bran enjoys a slightly better nutrient profile too, with higher amounts of protein, iron, vitamin B and vitamin E.

Looking for recipe ideas that include these superfoods? Try these nutritious and delicious dishes.

-Article originally published January 2011