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By Melissa Ureña

5 Superfoods You Must Have in Your Kitchen

When we hear the word superfoods, our first thought is that they are super expensive products that are hard to find in supermarkets. However, what we don’t know is that many of them have been in the Costa Rican diet since our grandparents’ time, as in the case of the blackberry.

Like any other food, superfoods have their nutritional value, but they are distinguished in that some of their nutrients have properties that contribute to promoting health and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

That is why I recommend these five superfoods that you should always have in your kitchen and that aren’t going to cost you an arm and a leg.

Blackberry: Blackberries are a tiny but powerful fruit. The antioxidants that give them their characteristic purple color are called polyphenols, which contribute to preventing cancer and heart disease. I recommend eating blackberries fresh, without cooking them, since their antioxidants are affected by heat. Eaten raw, they will retain their benefits.


Olive Oil: This oil breaks the pattern of fats being harmful to health because it contains antioxidants that protect the heart, reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol (HDL). Recent studies have shown that the antioxidants in olive oil promote the death of cancer cells, making it a weapon to prevent breast, colon, lung, ovarian, prostate and skin cancer. But be aware! If you are watching your weight, consume it in moderation since it contains the same amount of calories as any other oil.


Chia: Despite being a small seed, it has big benefits for our health. It contains soluble fiber that our bodies can absorb, and once it’s in the bloodstream, it binds to excess fat and sugar, facilitating their elimination. If we consume chia by adding it to the water, we can observe the soluble fiber because the water becomes viscous. It also contains insoluble fiber that helps to improve digestion, especially in cases of constipation. It also prevents colon cancer and is an excellent plant source of omega-3, which protects the health of our heart.


Quinoa: Although it belongs to the cereals food group, it is unique in that it provides a greater amount of protein and is gluten free. In addition, it contains fiber that provides multiple benefits: improving intestinal movement, preventing colon cancer and contributing to eliminating toxins and waste products. Additionally, it has prebiotic fiber, which serves to feed the beneficial bacteria in the colon. These are a defense barrier for our body; they regulate blood cholesterol levels and provide a greater sense of satiety or fullness. This last point is very beneficial if you want to watch your weight.


Dark Chocolate: Who said that eating healthy doesn’t allow you to indulge? Daily consumption of 10 grams of dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa, will help protect the health of your heart since it prevents the formation of thrombi (blood clots) and improves blood pressure. White chocolate and milk chocolate contain a lower percentage of cocoa and a higher amount of fat and sugar, so these benefits can’t be obtained when they are consumed. The moral: whenever you have a craving, choose dark chocolate.


It is important to remember that the properties attributed to superfoods are related to prevention and not to curing chronic diseases. Their benefits are noticeable when they are a permanent part of the regular diet.

Melissa Ureña

Soy graduada con honores de la Universidad de Costa Rica de licenciatura en Nutrición Humana, además cuento con un diplomado en Administración de Empresas de la Universidad Estatal a Distancia. Constantemente asisto a cursos y congresos relacionados a la nutrición para mantenerme a la vanguardia del conocimiento en este campo. Mi experiencia profesional es variada, durante estos 10 años de ejercer la nutrición he tenido la posibilidad de trabajar en gimnasios con deportistas y personas físicamente activas; en consultorios asociada a otros profesionales de la salud atendiendo mujeres embarazadas de alto riesgo, adultos mayores, adolescentes, niños, adultos con problemas de sobrepeso, diabetes, colesterol alto, hígado graso y otras enfermedades relacionadas al metabolismo. También tuve la oportunidad de trabajar en los principales hospitales privados de nuestro país: Hospital Clínica Bíblica en donde abordé el sobrepeso con un programa integral de atención en grupo para adultos y lo adapté para niños escolares. En Hospital La Católica desempeñé funciones como nutricionista clínico valorando al paciente hospitalizado y brindando educación nutricional para promover su recuperación al egresar del hospital. En el Hospital Cima estuve a cargo del control de calidad del servicio de alimentos de hospitalización, comedor de empleados y restaurante, supervisaba la buena manipulación de alimentos para asegurar la inocuidad de los mismos. Actualmente trabajo realizando consultarías y asesorías nutricionales de manera independiente.

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