Normal Foods vs Superfoods
What makes a superfood? If a food isn’t a superfood, that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of nutritional value. Many foods are perfectly fine additions to your daily dietary routine – but they’re still not superfoods. If you’re a sports fan, think of superfoods as a player who excels in multiple positions and brings a lot of value to the team. To be a superfood, it must be extremely rich in nutritional value, often in a variety of ways. The following example illustrates how two similar types of veggies differ in their superfood status:
A Tale of Two Root Vegetables – Carrots vs Cucumbers
Both carrots and cucumbers are popular root vegetables, but only one of them is considered a superfood. Both of these veggies are similar in their ability to thrive as salad toppings or as raw snacks. Cucumbers have a fair amount of vitamin K – not a bad veggie at all. However, carrots offer vitamin K in addition to fiber, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and 15% of your daily supply of lutein, a component that benefits your eyes. Not to mention, the action from chewing carrots is proven to clean the teeth. Clearly, these facts combine to show how carrots shine as a plant-based superfood.
10 Must Have Superfoods on the Vegan Diet
Superfoods are rich in nutrients that matter and should be included in your diet as often as possible. Vegans have a large variety of these foods to choose from, and keeping them on hand can do a lot for your health and energy levels. Learn about these 10 superfood staples of the vegan diet, and decide which among them to make a part of your dietary routine:
Few foods pack as much nutritional value as spinach. Immortalized in pop-culture as the veggie that gives Popeye the Sailor his strength, spinach is a powerful superfood for vegans. Check out some of the many ways that spinach excels as a superfood:
- 180 grams of spinach contains 181% of your daily allowance of vitamin K.
- 638% of vitamin A per bunch
- 1,897 mg of potassium per bunch
- 7 grams of protein per bunch
- 159% your daily dose of vitamin C
Vegan serving suggestions for spinach
Try spinach in salads, as a topping on sandwiches or pizza, and cooked in a wide variety of entrees. A highly versatile vegetable, you won’t have trouble combining spinach with your favorite vegan recipes.
An extremely popular fruit for those who love Mexican food, the avocado is a staple for most Californians. It’s remarkable in several different ways, including the fact that it has more healthy fat than any other plant-based food. See some of the benefits that make avocados a true superfood:
- One cup of sliced avocado has 33% of your daily fat content.
- Avocados are rich in potassium.
- Avocados have 9.8g of fiber per cup.
- Over 20% of your daily dose of vitamin C and B-6 comes from one cup of avocado.
Vegan Serving Suggestions for Avocados
Many people enjoy avocados plain, but they’re also perfect on sandwiches, wraps, and in Mexican entrees such as tacos and tostadas. As one of the most potent plant-based foods in the world, there is ample reason to include avocado in most of your meal plans.
The vegetable that resembles a tiny tree is also packed with a huge amount of nutrients. Found in a huge variety of foods from Chinese cuisine to salads, broccoli is extremely adaptable and rich in nutrients. Here are the core reasons for its superfood status:
- 100 grams of broccoli has 108% of your daily vitamin C.
- Broccoli is rich in potassium and packed with water
- 100 grams of broccoli has 3.3 grams of fiber.
- Broccoli is rich in vitamin A.
Vegan Serving Suggestions for Broccoli
Broccoli is ideal as a main vegetable served in entrees like stir fry or as a topping for salads. Most often, broccoli is cooked and eaten as a side dish topped with herbs and spices.
4. Brussels Sprouts
Few vegetables suffer from a bad rap the way that brussels sprouts do. Flavorful, dense, and easy to cook, brussels sprouts are most often eaten on their own. Here’s why they’re considered a superfood:
- One cup of brussels sprouts has 100% of your daily vitamin C.
- Brussels sprouts are rich in beta carotene.
- One cup of brussels sprouts contains 20% of your daily dose of folate.
- Brussels sprouts have more potassium, fiber, and protein than most veggies.
Vegan Serving Suggestions for Brussel Sprouts
While some creative recipes can be found for brussels sprouts, the real question is how you like to flavor them. These little, misunderstood sprouts are typically eaten on their own as a cooked side dish.
Many people save peas for holiday occasions like Thanksgiving, but their serious nutritional content means that they should be more frequently included into the diet of healthy vegans. Check out these core advantages that make peas a tiny superfood:
- Peas are a protein powerhouse, with almost 8 grams per cup.
- One cup of peas has 80% of the vitamin K you’ll need for the day.
- A cup of peas contains 30% of your daily dose of vitamin A.
- Peas are also rich in potassium.
Vegan Serving Suggestions for Peas
Peas are often combined with mashed potatoes but can go well with salads, soups, and alone as a flavorful, protein-packed side dish.
Few foods are as polarizing as the mushroom. Love them or hate them, their unique benefits make mushrooms a bona fide superfood. Here’s why:
- A rare source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which helps prevent breast cancer
- Low in carbohydrates, fat, sodium, and calories
- High in protein and fiber
- Good source of potassium
Vegan Serving Suggestions for Mushrooms
Extremely versatile, mushrooms can be added to most entrees to add a distinct texture and flavor. Consider Portobello mushrooms as a nutrient-rich vegan substitute for burgers.
7. Seeds (Chia, Pumpkin, and Flax)
The various types of seeds are valuable parts of the vegan diet. Among those, chia, pumpkin, and flax are among the most potent superfoods. See what makes seeds so nutritionally potent here:
- High in fiber and protein
- Good carbs with are useful for vegans
- Seeds have Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
- Potent amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium
Vegan Serving Suggestions for Seeds
Seeds are crucial to the vegan diet and can be eaten alone by the handful as a snack, or they can be an excellent topping for everything from smoothies to soups.
This small tropical fruit is unique in its furry texture and bright green interior. Packed with a variety of vital nutrients, don’t overlook these golf ball-sized superfoods! Here are some highlights:
- Kiwis are rich in vitamins A and C.
- Kiwis have more potassium than a banana.
- Excellent sources of fiber and folate
- Kiwis are rich in zinc.
Vegan Serving Suggestions for Kiwis
Kiwis are most often paired with strawberries in juices and smoothies but are excellent sliced up and eaten on their own or as tangy additions to fruit salad.
The potent grain with a complex name, quinoa has gained a lot of popularity for its remarkable variety of nutrients. A highly versatile grain with a unique taste, there are a lot of ways to add this superfood into your diet. These are the reasons you want to:
- High in fiber and antioxidants
- Lots of protein including all essential amino acids.
- Contains beneficial flavonoids, which are rare plant antioxidants
- Quinoa has lots of manganese and magnesium.
Vegan Serving Suggestions for Quinoa
Quinoa is similar to rice in consistency, but with a texture and flavor that are all its own. A perfect superfood to use as a side dish or to mix with other veggies, quinoa is a staple for health-conscious vegans everywhere. Many creative recipes are available for this popular superfood.
10. Sweet Potatoes
The sweeter and more nutritious variation of the potato, sweet potatoes are an undeniable superfood. Their benefits range from immune boosters to potent nutrients. Find out more here:
- Rich in vitamins A and C
- Good for arthritis sufferers
- Has low impact on your glycemic index
- Potent amount of fiber and beta carotene
Vegan Serving Suggestions for Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are one of the few vegetables that is adaptable enough for dinner or desserts. Plus, they’re a holiday favorite, often served on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many vegans prefer to eat their sweet potatoes plain or cooked simply with cinnamon or salt.
Know Your Superfoods to Maximize Your Energy Level on the Vegan Diet
While eating a variety of foods is excellent for your health, superfoods can ensure that you’re getting the nutrients you need with less effort. Whether you prefer your foods raw or are open to the many vegan recipes that are available, finding ways to mix superfoods into your diet is an excellent way to stay healthy and energetic. Experiment to find your favorites and let your vegan experience be filled with the most nutritious superfoods available!