(NaturalNews) A superfood is usually defined as a class of plant based foods known for its very high antioxidant content that provides multiple disease fighting nutrients. Many of you have heard of the great benefits of the goji and acai berry. But did you know that many traditional holiday foods are also considered superfoods? Cranberries, blueberries, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and broccoli are among the top of the list.
Cranberries are among the top foods with proven health benefits, according to Amy Howell, a researcher at Rutgers University. Cranberries are full of antioxidants, which protect cells from damage by unstable molecules called free radicals.
Eating cranberries can block urinary infections and kill H. pylori bacteria which can cause stomach cancer and ulcers. The proanthocyanidin found in cranberries helps to prevent plaque formation on teeth.
Blueberries are rich in compounds that help protect the heart and may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Studies suggest the blueberry anthocyanins protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and they can slow and even reverse age-related memory loss and decline in cognitive function. They can be eaten in a holiday smoothie or pie.
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium and manganese. They can also help stabilize blood sugar, which means they're a good choice for diabetics. They're relatively low in calories for all of the nutritional power they pack, at approximately 95 calories each. Elisa Zied, MS, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of Nutrition At Your Fingertips, says, "If we eat more foods like sweet potatoes that are rich sources of potassium, and fewer high-sodium foods, we can blunt the effect of sodium on blood pressure and reduce bone loss."
Pumpkin while raw has only 15 calories per 1/2 cup and is full of iron, zinc, and fiber. It's high in vitamin C and beta carotene. According to Steve Pratt, MD, author of SuperFoods Healthstyle, "Pumpkin is also one of the highest sources of alpha-carotene, a powerful member of the carotenoid family that's inversely related to cataract formation and boosts immunity."
So, try a raw pumpkin pie after a holiday meal. And, don't forget to eat the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese.
Broccoli is rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and contains phytochemicals called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. UK scientists have uncovered the ingredient in broccoli which helps to fight prostate cancer.
Researchers believe a chemical called sulforaphane in broccoli works with cells which lack an anti-tumor gene to fight prostate cancer.
Eat these powerful superfoods with your family during the holidays and feel good about your health.
Lindy Brown is a freelance writer, editor and photographer. She is also the mother of two and is passionate about natural health and outdoor fitness. Her expertise is in healing foods. She continually looks for natural ways to help heal and strengthen the body in order to keep her family healthy and to share her knowledge with others. She and her husband have their own online, outdoor health magazine at www.outdoorgulfcoast.com You can also find her at www.gulfcoastediting.com