High in energy-dense fatty acids and antioxidants in the form of polyphenols, the juçara berry is the latest tasty treat to be branded a superfood. Click through the gallery to see more health-boosting superfoods.
Courtesy Juçaí collection
High in "good" fat and low in carbs, avocados have been linked to improved cardiovascular health through boosting "good" cholesterol and reducing "bad" cholesterol. Avocados have a whole host of other health benefits, too: high in folate, vitamin K, and vitamin C, they also contain more potassium than bananas.
Despite containing just 30 calories per cup, broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. That means plenty of filling fiber and polyphenols -- antioxidants that detoxify cell-damaging chemicals in your body -- with each serving.
The old adage goes "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" — and with studies showing a link between apples and lowered risk of chronic disease, it seems there might be some truth to it. A great source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C and potassium, apples have also been shown to reduce "bad" LDL cholesterols.
Blueberries are often singled out as a superfood because studies have shown they aid in everything from fighting cancer to lowering cholesterol. But all berries, including raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, contain antioxidants and phytonutrients. Worried about the price of fresh fruit? Experts say frozen berries are just as "super."
The fruit of a palm tree, açaí berries are high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants including polyphenols and anthocyanins. Their high fat content makes them super energizing, and they are popular as a pre- and post-workout snack. Açaí berries have a short shelf-life when fresh, so are most often consumed dried or as a frozen puree.
A good source of lean protein, salmon provides a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies suggest are beneficial for heart health because they reduce inflammation and slow the rate of plaque buildup in blood vessels.
In the past, eggs have been vilified for their high levels of dietary cholesterol. However, research has shown that this doesn't raise blood cholesterol. In fact, studies have shown that adults who eat an egg a day have lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to those who rarely eat them. Plus, eggs are full of choline, a nutrient that helps block fat from being absorbed in the liver, and has been linked to preventing memory loss.
Many dieters shy away from nuts because of their high calorie and fat count, but eating a handful several times a week can help shed pounds and prevent heart disease. Almonds, in particular, contain lots of monounsaturated fats and fiber -- try replacing peanut butter with almond butter for a healthy swap.
Staying hydrated is vital for good health, and if you choose to drink green tea, you'll also be increasing your metabolism, which will burn more fat. Plus, the antioxidants found in green tea have been linked to cancer prevention.
Quinoa has been a trendy superfood for a while, with good reason. The popular whole-grain contains a good dose of protein to help build muscle. As an added bonus for those watching their weight, including any type of whole grain in your diet -- from barley to brown rice -- will help fill you up for fewer calories.
Black, kidney, white and garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) all end up on superfood lists because of their high fiber and protein. They fill you up and provide muscle-building material without any of the fat that meat can add to your meal.
Spinach is a great source of iron, which is a key component in the red blood cells that carry oxygen to our muscles. But researchers in Sweden identified another way in which these greens might keep you charged: Compounds found in spinach actually increase the efficiency of our mitochondria, the energy-producing factories inside our cells. That means eating a cup of cooked spinach a day may give you more lasting power for your workout.
Walnuts are packed with tryptophan, an amino acid your body needs to create the feel-great chemical serotonin. Another perk: "They're digested slowly," says Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. "This contributes to mood stability and can help you tolerate stress."
Asparagus is one of the best veggie sources of folate, a B vitamin that could help keep you out of a mental slump. "Folate is important for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine," says Dr. David Mischoulon, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. All of these are crucial for mood.