Superfood Smackdown! And the Healthiest Choices Are...
Winner: Brussels sprouts
One cup of each of these veggies contains your full recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamins C and K, but the sprouts blow broccoli out of the water with significantly more glucosinolates. When glucosinolates break down in the body, they produce compounds that have been found to inhibit the growth of some cancer cells. Cooking veggies lowers their glucosinolate content, but if you can't stomach them raw, try steaming: A 2009 study found that it retains more of these anticancer compounds than boiling.
Photo: Adam Levey
While blueberries are prized for their high antioxidant content and can help protect against cognitive decline and cardiovascular disease, when it comes to weight loss, bet on red. "With 31 percent fewer calories, about one-third the sugar, and 46 percent fewer carbs than blueberries, raspberries are the smarter choice," says New York–based nutritionist Sharon Richter. Per cup, raspberries also contain 8 grams of fiber compared with just 3.6 in blues. Fiber slows digestion to help keep you from overeating.
Winner: Pumpkin seeds
They may have similar calories per ounce—158 for pumpkin and 164 for sunflower—but pumpkin seeds pack 68 percent more tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in the production of serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter. Pumpkin seeds also offer more than five times as much magnesium per cup; a recent study found that postgrad students whose diets regularly met or exceeded their RDA for magnesium (320 milligrams for women, or roughly half a cup of pumpkin seeds) were less likely to be depressed than students whose diets contained the least.
Winner: Chia seeds There's no debate that both seeds should be celebrated for their high concentration of heart-healthy omega-3s, but chia seeds happen to be a better source of calcium, with two tablespoons providing up to 16 percent of your RDA—four and a half times the amount in the same quantity of ground flax. And with nearly 150 percent more phosphorus and more than 100 percent more manganese (two minerals that play key roles in bone formation), chia seeds get the gold medal for helping to build and maintain strong bones.
Next: 25 superfoods to incorporate into your diet now