Six superfoods and how to eat them every day

Salmon is easy enough to include in your meals. Same with heart-healthy walnuts and cancer-fighting tomatoes. But what about fiber-filled wheat germ? How do you make the most of essential fatty acid–rich flaxseed oil? And if you’re not a tea drinker, where can you add more of this antioxidant brew to your daily diet? Here, we highlight six superhealthy foods you may be less familiar with—and simple ways to eat them every day.

Broccoli and broccoli sprouts
Mom was right—broccoli is great for you. One cup of cooked broccoli has twice as much fiber as a slice of whole-wheat bread, along with a substantial dose of calcium. Broccoli also contains glucosinolates (precursors to the potent cancer-fighting compounds isothiocyanates) and antioxidants that can prevent heart disease. Broccoli sprouts, seedlings of the broccoli plant, are especially high in cancer-protective sulforaphane. Studies show that broccoli sprouts contain 10 to 100 times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli.

Quick tips: Stock up on frozen broccoli spears to use in a pinch. Because broccoli sprouts deteriorate quickly if they’re damp, keep them sealed in the original container and refrigerated for up to a week.

How to eat more broccoli
•Toss steamed broccoli florets, chopped red peppers, and olive oil with cooked whole-grain penne pasta.
•Thread broccoli spears on skewers; brush with olive oil and lemon juice and grill.
•Purée cooked broccoli, vegetable stock, and silken tofu for a creamy, low-fat, dairy-free soup.
•Use broccoli sprouts in place of lettuce on sandwiches and in wraps.


Both green and black tea, from the Camellia sinensis plant, are rich in antioxidant polyphenols that can help prevent a variety of conditions, including heart disease and cancer. Green tea is especially rich in epigallocatechin gallate, which can help prevent stomach ulcers and inflammatory diseases. Green tea may also have a protective effect against neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Rooibos, or red tea, isn’t a member of the tea family, but it’s also rich in healing antioxidants.

Quick tip: Air, light, and moisture adversely affect tea flavor. Store loose tea and tea bags in an airtight glass container in a cool, dark place; use within six months.

How to eat more tea
•Steam rice in jasmine green tea.
•Add smoky tea, such as lapsang souchong, to soups in place of some broth.
•Drink iced black tea with crushed mint leaves for an afternoon refreshment.
•Take tea as your morning beverage. If you’re a hard-core coffee drinker, try a robust black tea, such as Irish breakfast or smoky Russian.

Shiitake mushrooms

A symbol of longevity, the shiitake mushroom is used for healing in Chinese medicine. Modern research shows shiitakes contain a compound called lentinan that boosts immunity and can help treat people with HIV. Lentinan also exhibits antitumor activity and can reduce the risk of cancer, especially of the colon. Another compound in shiitakes, eritadenine, lowers cholesterol levels.

Quick tip: Keep dried shiitakes on hand so they’re always readily available; they have a deeper, more intense flavor than fresh shiitakes. To use, cover with boiling water and soak for 20 minutes; drain, rinse, and use as you would fresh.

How to eat more shiitake mushrooms
•Stuff sautéed shiitake mushroom caps with canned crabmeat and minced onion.
•Use dried, reconstituted shiitakes in brown rice risotto.
•Sauté fresh or dried shiitakes with chopped kale and garlic.
•Add finely chopped fresh shiitakes and spinach to scrambled eggs.


Nutty and flavorful, flaxseed is rich in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that’s a precursor to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the type found in fish oils. Omega-3 fatty acids have potent anti-inflammatory actions and can help treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Flaxseeds also help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the formation of arterial plaque; plus they’re rich in phytoestrogens and may help reduce breast cancer risk.

Quick tips: Purchase flaxseed oil in refrigerated, opaque bottles. If you won’t use the whole bottle within six to eight weeks, pour some into a small glass jar and freeze the rest for up to 12 months. Flaxseed oil should never be heated; add it to foods after cooking. Always grind whole flaxseeds before eating.

How to eat more flaxseed
•Stir a spoonful of flaxseed oil into cooked brown rice.
•Combine equal parts flaxseed oil, honey, and yogurt for a sweet and creamy dip for vegetable crudités.
•Sprinkle ground flaxseeds on steamed vegetables or stir into cake and quick-bread batters.

Wheat germ

Long the darling of the health food scene, wheat germ is now getting some well-deserved recognition as a superfood. The embryo of a wheat kernel, wheat germ is rich in vitamin E,a potent antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory effects and helps protect against heart disease. Wheat germ oil is also high in octacosanol, a compound that helps lower total and LDL cholesterol levels and raises good HDL levels. Octacosanol has also been shown to improve reaction time, suggesting it has a neurological effect.

Quick tip: Because it’s high in oils, wheat germ should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent oxidation and rancidity. Buy wheat germ that’s packaged in sealed or vacuum-packed containers, rather than in bulk.

How to eat more wheat germ
•Replace up to half a cup of flour with wheat germ in bread and muffin recipes; stir 1/4 cup into pancake batter.
•Sprinkle wheat germ on hot or cold cereals.
•Stir a tablespoon of wheat germ into smoothies or yogurt.


With their rich, bold flavor, olives are a healthy, guilt-free snack and recipe enhancer. Olives are loaded with monounsaturated fats, which help lower LDL cholesterol and protect against atherosclerosis. Olives and olive oil also contain squalene, a compound that boosts immune function and helps reduce the risk of cancer, especially breast and stomach cancers.

Quick tip: To remove some of the sodium, place olives in a glass jar filled with distilled water and soak overnight. Drain, rinse, and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

How to eat more olives
•Add finely chopped olives and minced rosemary to brown rice.
•Purée olives with garlic and capers for a quick tapenade; spread on whole-grain bread.
•Toss whole olives into salads; add minced black olives to pasta sauces.

More superfoods to eat every week

Sweet potatoes