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No single food, not even super food can offer all the nutrition, health benefits, and energy we need to nourish ourselves. Over the years, research has shown that healthy dietary patterns can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

However, there are few foods that can be singled out for special recognition. These “super foods” offer very important nutrients that can power-pack your meals and snacks, and further enhance a healthy eating pattern.

Leafy greens

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Dark, leafy greens are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium, as well as several photochemical. They also add fiber to the diet.

How to include them: Try varieties such as spinach, swiss chard, kale, collard greens, or mustard greens. Throw them into salads or sauté them in a little olive oil. You can also add greens to soups and stews.

Whole grains

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A good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, whole grains also contain several B vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They have been shown to lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease and diabetes.

How to include them: Try having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Substitute bulgur, quinoa, wheat berries, or brown rice for your usual baked potato. When buying bread at the supermarket, look to see that the first ingredient is “100% whole wheat flour.”

Cruciferous vegetables

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These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes, and turnips. They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals including indoles, thiocyanates, and nitriles, which may prevent some types of cancer.

How to include them: Steam or stir-fry, adding healthy oils, herbs, and seasonings for flavor. Try adding a frozen cruciferous vegetable medley to soups, casseroles, and pasta dishes.

Legumes

This broad category includes kidney, black, red, and garbanzo beans, as well as soybeans and peas. Legumes are an excellent source of fiber, folate, and plant-based protein. Studies show they can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

How to include them: Add to salads, soups, and casseroles. Make a chili or a bean-based spread such as hummus.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms don’t just add flavor to a stir-fry; they’re also low in calories and an excellent source of the cancer-fighting mineral, selenium

Additionally, these humble plants are the highest vegetarian source of vitamin D and they’re high in copper and potassium, nutrients needed for normal heart rhythm, nerve function, and red blood cell production.

How to include them: Mushrooms cook in a flash and pair equally well with vegetarian, vegan, or meaty meals. Slice them onto sandwiches or into salads, or put them in any recipe that could use a more toothsome texture.

Bananas

Bananas have a number of health benefits, which makes them ideal candidates for a healthy diet. The high levels of soluble fiber in bananas help in regulating blood sugar levels by releasing sugar slowly in the blood. Also, the high levels of potassium in bananas help in regulating heartbeat, keep the blood pressure at optimum levels, and also keeps the brain alert. Approach any of the best banana exporters from India and get hygienically processed and freshly prepared bananas.

How to include them: From pancakes to crepes, cakes, bread, halwa, sheera, and kheer, bananas can be baked into lip-smacking desserts. They’re commonly added to smoothie bowls, smoothies, milkshakes, and oatmeal porridge, to make them more nutritionally rich and filling.

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