16 Superfoods To Add To Your Meals This Summer

When food has an abundance of health benefits, it's no wonder it is considered super. Nutrient-dense and packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, superfoods can enrich a healthy diet. Not every healthy option is considered a superfood — as the Cleveland Clinic explains, these powerhouse foods stand apart from other nutritious foods because they are significantly higher in nutrients while remaining lower in calories. In addition, they are also typically rich in fiber and healthy fats. Often associated with promoting heart health, having anti-inflammatory qualities, supporting a healthy immune system, preventing diseases, and improving energy and brain function, superfoods are well-named.

While they may seem intimidating because of their elite status, superfoods are actually fairly common and easy to incorporate into your diet. It isn't all leafy greens and beans here. Yes, superfoods can fall into those categories, but there is actually a wide range of healthy foods that are classified as superfoods. Whether you want to experiment with flavors or boost your overall health, eating superfoods is a smart and tasty way to fuel your body. From berries and vegetables to spices and sweets (that's right – sweets!), we've compiled a list of superfoods to try in your meals.

1. Salmon

As one of the most nutritious kinds of fish, salmon falls under the superfood umbrella. With the good fats it contains, salmon contributes to a healthy heart, skin, hair, and cholesterol. In particular, wild salmon is more nutrient-rich than farmed salmon. This popular fish is high in various vitamins and minerals, promoting good health. There's potassium, which can aid in controlling blood pressure, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, making salmon very heart-healthy. In fact, being so rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can benefit the body in several ways. According to Harvard University, omega-3 fats can protect against some cancers, and potentially help with lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis — all of this in addition to how it helps the heart!

Salmon, whether pan-seared, baked, fire-roasted, or grilled, is versatile. As warmer weather approaches, consider throwing salmon on the grill for charred, extra-crispy skin. You can serve cooked salmon on a bed of greens; high-quality, raw salmon in sushi cuisine; or cured, smoked salmon (also called lox) on a bagel with cream cheese.

2. Blueberries

Next time you enjoy a blueberry pie or muffin, relish it a little more knowing that the juicy and healthy fruit is fit to be a superfood. When consumed daily, blueberries can help make up a good portion of the recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. Just a cup of the berries provides roughly a quarter of the vitamin C and manganese that's suggested, as well as about 36% of vitamin K and 14% of dietary fiber. Dietitian Julia Zumpano explains to Cleveland Clinic how heat from cooking can harm antioxidants. So as much as we wish they were, baked blueberry treats aren't as healthy as fresh, raw blueberries. The primary reason blueberries are considered superfoods is because of the high amount of antioxidants they contain, which help prevent the damage that can cause the body oxidative stress.

Being so rich in nutrients and antioxidants makes this fruit worth eating by itself, away from cobblers and tarts. They can be blended into smoothies or used as a topping for yogurt bowls, smoothie bowls, cereal, or oatmeal. With at least 15 varieties of blueberries, there's an array of options to try snacking on.

3. Ginger

With its wide range of health benefits, ginger is decidedly a superfood. Between gingerol, which Johns Hopkins Medicine says gives ginger its distinct smell and promotes gut health, and the antioxidants it contains, ginger helps support the body. Known to ease nausea and stomach aches, ginger is a natural remedy and a delicious root plant used to spice foods or make tea. It can also be found in other beverages, like the beloved Moscow Mule. Ginger beer and ginger ale, however, are not as healthy as pure ginger tea because of the added sugars. Everyday Health explains that, aside from its medicinal properties, ginger also contains several vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, zinc, vitamins B3, B6, C, and riboflavin.

While the whole, raw form of ginger root is bound to have more vitamins and minerals than dried, powdered ginger, both forms are nutritious and can be used in a plethora of recipes. Use ground ginger to add warmth and spice to dishes like curry, soups, and baked goods. Fresh ginger can be used for the same, though it's not as convenient, and it can also be boiled to make fresh ginger tea. Both peppery and slightly sweet, ginger complements stir-fry, grilled meats, salmon, and numerous international cuisines.

4. Avocados

One of the more commonly known superfoods, avocados are dense with several important vitamins, as well as healthy calories and fats. They also promote gut health and heart health, and are packed with healthy vitamins like folate, potassium, and vitamins C, K, and E. Besides being nutrient-rich, avocados also help keep you feeling full for longer while also aiding the body in the absorption of nutrients. Some research, according to Health, has found that pairing avocado with a carrot, for example, showed signs of increased vitamin A absorbed from the vegetable after eating.

Not only are avocados beneficial superfoods, but they are also a prime ingredient for many recipes. Creamy and rich in taste, avocados are the base of your fave guacamole and the key ingredient for avocado toast. Slice them up and add them to salads or tacos, or incorporate them into a BLT. Avocado is also an obsession-worthy snack when it's fried!

5. Mushrooms

Even though every type of mushroom has a distinct flavor and appearance, they are all considered a healthy addition to your diet. While not every variety of mushroom will be available for purchase at your local grocery store, the most commonly sold types are all great superfood choices. UCLA Health explains that, in general, mushrooms are a potent source of ergothioneine, an antioxidant and amino acid that can help curb cellular damage. Mushrooms are also exceptionally low in sodium. A cup of button mushrooms, for instance, contains around 5mg of sodium. Then there are shiitake mushrooms, which have compounds that can control the absorption of cholesterol into the body. They also contain more of the antioxidant selenium than most other produce you shop for, according to Healthline. Moreover, they are chock full of other vitamins and minerals, giving them the superfood label.

As far as including them in recipes, mushrooms are delicious in dishes like pasta and soup. You can stuff them, grill them, bake them, or mix them in a sauce like Marsala. When you're grilling outside this summer, try firing up some chicken kabobs with mushrooms and other vegetables.

6. Turmeric

A member of the root family, turmeric, is related to both ginger and cardamom and shares the name of "superfood." Turmeric is made of the substance curcumin, which is a strong antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Largely because of the curcumin, turmeric has medicinal qualities that have long been applied in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine which can benefit the heart and brain, as well as provide relief for symptoms of arthritis and allergies. Although most of the curcumin present in turmeric is higher in turmeric extracts or supplements, the spice itself is still considered a superfood because, as WebMD explains, it is rich in antioxidants and is a good source of iron, potassium, and vitamins C and B6.

As a spice, turmeric can be used in a variety of foods like rice and quinoa, curry, and Asian cuisine. Per Healthline, the piperine found in black pepper can increase the absorption of curcumin by a whopping 2000%, so crack some pepper in those turmeric dishes for an extra health boost.

7. Garlic

Turns out, garlic can ward off vampires and inflammation. Wear that garlic breath proudly, knowing that garlic has various health benefits. Besides reducing inflammation, garlic also contains allicin, which has antibacterial qualities that can support your immune system, according to Everyday Health. Eating garlic is also a good way to take in more of the daily allotment of vitamins. The USDA shows that a single clove of garlic has traces of over a dozen essential vitamins and minerals, as well as protein and dietary fiber.

Because garlic intensifies the taste of food, it can be an excellent substitute for salt without abandoning flavor. Don't be afraid to increase the garlic in your recipes, as including more of it in your diet will give your body a better chance to benefit from its healthy properties. It works as a spice in just about any savory dish, as well as in shrimp and crab boils, and the newer craze of baking it whole and spreading it smoothly onto bread is also a tasty way to enjoy garlic.

8. Spinach

Several dark, leafy greens are considered superfoods, and spinach is one of them. Among its health benefits include improved eye health, cancer prevention, and the reduction of oxidative stress. (We see you, antioxidants!) Spinach is about 90% water, per Healthline, and is also high in insoluble fiber, which helps aid with digestion, and carotenoids, which convert to vitamin A in the body. Just one spinach leaf provides over half of the daily need for vitamin K1. Like some other leafy greens, raw spinach is high in oxalates, which can lower the absorption of minerals. When it's cooked, that acid breaks down. Nevertheless, both raw and cooked spinach are nutrient-rich, making these greens a healthy addition to your diet.

Between salads, dips, wraps, and even pizza toppings, spinach is tasty in almost any kind of cuisine. Eat it raw, stuff it into a chicken breast, simmer it in a Thai curry, or sauté it in a creamy, Tuscan chicken dish.

9. Pomegranate

Are we even surprised that this seductive fruit is a superfood? With a long history dating back to the Bronze Age, a 2020 study published in the journal Foods suggests pomegranates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits, joining other early fruits like olives, grapes, and figs. Unlike a lot of other superfoods, pomegranates do contain sugar but the seeds also have protein and vitamins. A main component of pomegranates, called anthocyanins, not only gives the juicy fruit its deep, red color but has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory aspects. Often known to promote heart health and gut health, pomegranates can also help prevent certain diseases like prostate cancer.

While its peel is inedible, both the seeds and the juice of a pomegranate are healthy and delicious. Even bottled pomegranate juice has its benefits, but a fresh pomegranate will understandably have less sugar. Seeds from this sweet, acidic fruit are a great topping for yogurt or salads. Pomegranate juice, with its strong flavor, can be combined with other fruit juices like oranges, lemons, or apples. Because pomegranates have iron, fruits with vitamin C can create balance among the nutrients.

10. Walnuts

Hailed as one of the most healthful nuts, walnuts are a superfood largely because they are high in antioxidants — they contain more than other common nuts. About 65% fat, albeit the healthy kind of fat, walnuts are big, hearty, and very beneficial. Just snacking on a handful of walnuts will give your body protein, fiber, carbs, and healthy calories. Fatty acids like omega-3 and -6 are a great energy source, and walnuts are full of them. In particular, walnuts have a high amount of a certain omega-3 fatty acid, which Healthline explains supports heart health and reduces inflammation. Having all of those omega fatty acids is a primary reason why walnuts are so special, especially as they can be eaten raw, retaining most of their nutrients. Walnuts have concentrated amounts of a few different nutrients and vitamins that other nuts don't have, making these nuts rather superior.

You can snack on them plain or lightly salted, and they also add a nice crunch to salads. Walnuts can also be ground and broken up to coat a crusted chicken or fish, like this walnut-crusted salmon with couscous.

11. Dark chocolate

Back up, milk chocolate — dark chocolate is a superfood that we're totally cool with eating every day. Dark chocolate comes from the same cacao plant as all chocolate, and the plant is rich in antioxidants, but dark chocolate is still the healthiest variation. Basically, the darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants. You'll want to look for chocolate that is 70% or more cacao to get the most health benefits out of it. According to Everyday Health's nutritionist, Kelly Kennedy, cacao has more antioxidants than green tea. This sweet treat plays a huge role in heart health and brain health. Remember your teachers saying if you nibbled on chocolate during a test you might perform better? They weren't kidding! A 2019 study in the journal Depression & Anxiety even associated dark chocolate with a reduced chance of clinical depression.

As you probably know, there are various ways to enjoy dark chocolate. If you're leaning toward healthier options, then dessert probably isn't the answer. Yet there are dessert recipes that use dark chocolate alongside other healthy ingredients, like avocados or cashews. With the right balance, you can easily have your cake and eat it, too — literally! Dark chocolate is also a slightly sweet topping for healthful meals like granola and yogurt bowls.

12. Chia seeds

While chia seeds just recently reached commercial popularity, they are a real powerhouse. As a superfood, they contain protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in digestion and provide healthy energy to the body. Even more surprising because of their teeny size, chia seeds have every essential amino acid. Mayo Clinic states that in one serving of seeds, equaling about two and a half tablespoons, there is around 10g of fiber, 5g of protein, and a whopping 140 calories. These tiny seeds are dense with nutrients, and now that they are gaining more attention, chia seeds can be found at various health food stores and even supermarkets.

With their subtle flavor, chia seeds can easily be added to homemade granola, energy bars, trail mix, yogurt bowls, smoothies, and salads. They can also be made into chia seed pudding, a very simple and common recipe that usually uses almond milk or coconut milk with maple syrup for a sweet and healthy dessert.

13. Sweet potatoes

You don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to delight in this superfood. Sweet potatoes provide us with important nutrients that can also help protect the body. Some of the vitamins in sweet potatoes have antioxidant properties, like vitamins A and C, which can offer protection from cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as support the immune system. Due to the pigment that gives purple sweet potatoes their color, they will have even more antioxidants. Health explains that the high fiber in sweet potatoes combats their starchiness while also helping regulate blood sugar and body weight. An average-sized sweet potato consists of calcium, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, and beta-carotene, which supports eye health.

This superfood is often enjoyed baked and loaded with maple bacon and sweet spices, but it is a tasty addition to many dishes. Sweet potatoes combined with greens, for example, is a hearty and popular pairing. They're also delicious crisped into fries (you can bake or air-fry them to avoid the oil used in deep-frying), or as a casserole or gratin.

14. Olive oil

Popular both today and with the Ancient Romans and Greeks, olive oil is a superfood that has been part of Mediterranean cuisine for ages. Olive oil is commended for its rich taste and health advantages. The North American Olive Oil Association says that it is a wonderful source of polyphenols, an antioxidant that prevents oxidative stress, thereby protecting from diseases like diabetes, dementia, and cancer. These antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities, the latter of which helps treat infections. Good for heart and brain function, olive oil can also boost your mood by supporting the central nervous system.

There are also a lot of physical benefits, such as for your skin and hair. Because of the vitamins and fatty acids in olive oil, it can promote hair growth and provide strength and shine, and it can be used as a face mask to reduce dryness. As far as eating olive oil, you can do anything from a drizzle on your fave dishes to cooking your food primarily in EVOO, the healthiest of oils.

15. Almonds

A natural stress reliever with an impressive amount of nutrients, almonds are a popular nut that deserves to be called a superfood. Dietitian Courtney Barth talked to Cleveland Clinic about some foods that lower cortisol levels, which is the hormone most responsible for stress. Among these were almonds, largely due to their protein content. Per Healthline, one ounce of almonds has 6 grams of protein. But its stress-relieving qualities are just part of what almonds can do for your body. You can get nearly half of the daily recommended intake of vitamin E from the same one ounce of almonds. Antioxidants — another big reason they are a superfood — are found in the skins of almonds. But this means blanched almonds might not provide antioxidant or anti-inflammatory benefits.

Almonds are perfect for snacking, combining with trail mix or granola, or adding to your fave stir-fry. You can also try toasting them lightly, mixing them with sautéed vegetables like asparagus or broccoli, or using them for crusted fish.

16. Eggs

Low in calories and high in protein, eggs are a superfood that can be enjoyed daily, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Eggs are also considered a complete protein source because of the amino acids they contain. Healthline states that, when eating a single hard-boiled egg, you are getting about 5g of total fats, plus vitamins A, B2, B12, and B5. Past studies have suggested that the cholesterol eggs have is bad for you, but recent studies have shown that dietary cholesterol actually has very little effect. On the contrary, eggs can be very beneficial for your heart by helping to increase those healthy cholesterol levels.

There are a multitude of ways to cook eggs, be it scrambled, poached, fried, or in a frittata, quiche, omelet, or casserole. Hard-boiled eggs are essential to a traditional cobb salad, and soft-boiled eggs are common in ramen. But there are also eggs besides chicken eggs that you can eat, creating the opportunity for plenty of unique recipes utilizing this superfood.