Source: Care2 Healthy Living
Janelle Martel | February 5, 2015 | 5:02 am
Superfoods, which are foods packed with nutrients, aren’t just for humans. Your dog can get great benefits from these nutrient powerhouses, including disease prevention, increased energy, and better overall health.
1. Chia Seeds
This little seed is packed with omega 3 fatty acids, which improve your pet’s skin and coat, reduce inflammation, and boost the immune system. Because chia seeds are so high in omega 3s, they are a great option for dogs who are unable to tolerate fish oils. The combination of high fat and fiber cause chia seeds to be digested more slowly, leading to a sustained release of energy for your active dog. To add these nutrients to your dog’s diet, try sprinkling some chia seeds over wet food, or mix chia seeds with warm water to create a gel that can be added to dry food.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which supports eye health, helps maintain a healthy skin and coat, and acts as an antioxidant to prevent disease. These tubers are also a source of Vitamin C to support immunity and fiber to promote healthy digestion. Evidence has also shown that sweet potatoes help to remove fatty cells from the liver to help maintain healthy organ function. Try cooking sweet potatoes to add to your pet’s meals, or look for freeze-dried sweet potato treats.
Just like humans, dogs reap great benefits from adding dark, leafy greens to their diet. Kale, which is packed with vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin K, and vitamin C, is one of the best options for your pooch. Because kale is a cruciferous vegetable, it contains a compounds called isothiocyanates, which have been shown to help prevent cancer. Kale also contains a number of flavonoids, which can help reduce chronic joint pain and reduce daily wear and tear on the joints. To prepare, slice kale and steam before adding to your dog’s dish. Just be sure to avoid kale if your dog has had bladder stones or kidney disease, because it contains oxalates which can aggravate these conditions.
Pumpkin is rich in fiber, an indigestible carbohydrate that improves digestive health and can be used to treat both constipation and diarrhea. Pumpkin is also rich in carotenoids, which are plant pigments that help to reduce the risk of cancer, boost the immune system, and help prevent cardiovascular and eye diseases. Try adding a spoonful of pumpkin puree to your dog’s food – just be sure to buy pure canned pumpkin rather than pumpkin filling, which contains added sugar and spices.
This little berry is packed with polyphenols to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are help to prevent disease. These antioxidants also help to keep the arteries clean, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties of blueberries are also great for your pooch’s brain, as they help prevent dementia and other age-related cognitive decline. Fresh blueberries make a great snack for your dog, or you can add a few to his dish a couple of times a week.
Alfalfa is part of the legume family and has traditionally been used for its health benefits in animals. It’s rich in fiber and has been shown to help improve digestive health. Alfalfa also helps remove uric acid from the kidneys, which can help with arthritis and urinary conditions. Alfalfa also contains chlorophyll, a powerful antioxidant, and phytoestrogens, which have been shown to help prevent cancer. Powdered alfalfa can be added to your dog’s meals, or you can look for alfalfa in dog treats. Bonus: it helps freshen your dog’s breath.