Remember the days when food was just food? Dieticians recommended a healthy balance of grains, fruits, and vegetables.
After time, foods that held more nutritional value than others were labeled superfoods!
Spoiler Alert: They aren’t foods that give you superpowers. And if you go looking for superfoods on the food pyramid, you won’t find it.
Superfoods don’t have their own food group. It’s simply a marketing term for foods that have great health benefits.
It sounds simple, but with new superfood trends and recipes popping up, it’s easy to get confused What is a superfood? How does a food get labeled as such? Most importantly, which ones should you eat?
Don’t worry! This article will cover these extraordinary foods. You’ll soon be able to differentiate a superfood from a “regular” food.
So, What Is a Superfood?
Trying to understand what Makes a superfood “super” is simple. They are foods that do more than target functions of the body.
Put simply, a superfood has one or more of the following:
Nutrients: A superfood must contain more than a few different nutrients. The right nutrients can improve various areas of your health and immune system.
More Good than Bad: We’re not saying that “normal healthy foods aren’t good for you”. But, all “healthy” foods were not created equal. Sometimes, they contain just as many calories, fat or cholesterol as “junk food”. Superfoods won’t contain many “bad” traits. Most likely, they’re clean, hormone-free and free of artificial ingredients.
Disease Prevention: The craze about superfoods is because they offer significant health benefits. Many can lower the risk of developing certain diseases. While some can help relieve symptoms of other conditions.
Superfoods consist of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help us ward of diseases. Superfoods contain phytochemicals. These are known to prevent heart disease, diabetes, digestive problems, and even cancer.
Here are some of the most common traits of superfoods and what benefits they have:
- Antioxidants that are thought to ward off cancer
- Healthy fats, which can prevent heart disease
- Fiber, which helps prevent diabetes and digestive problems
- Phytochemicals, that are known for a variety of health benefits
One of the best ways to explain superfoods is to share a few examples. In this section, we’ll point out certain superfood options and highlight the traits that make it so super!
Kale, along with most dark, leafy greens live up to the superfood name. These leafy greens are loaded with vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain fiber, calcium and other minerals.
It’s no wonder Kale earned the superfood fame.
Blueberries are considered superfoods because they are rich in vitamins, fiber, and phytochemicals. Blueberries contain a high amount of beneficial vitamins. But you can get similar benefits from other berries as well. Options like strawberries and cranberries have the phytochemical, flavonoid. Flavonoids are known to reduce the risk of heart conditions in women.
Kiwifruit earns the superfood title because it contains serotonin. Seratonin is a hormone that helps induce and maintain sleep. Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying sleep through the night? Consider kiwi a natural sedative. What a tasty way to a good night’s rest!
It’s no secret that nuts contain an abundance of healthy fats. So, which ones are the most nutritious?
Almonds and pistachios contain great antioxidants, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Macadamia nuts have the highest fat and lowest carb content. But not in cookies, of course. Pecans and Brazil nuts are high in healthy fat and provide antioxidants and minerals.
Though nuts are superfoods, they are typically high in calorie. You should eat them in moderation to maintain a balanced diet. A handful is a pretty good serving size.
Sweet potato and squash
Fall vegetables make their way on to the superfoods list. Sweet potatoes and squash contain excellent sources of fiber, vitamin A and more. This is a great superfood for those with a sweet tooth. They have a natural sweetness without the sugar or fat.
Another superfood for those with a love for sweets is exotic fruits. This includes acai berry, noni fruit, pitaya, durian or pomegranate. Exotic fruits may be more expensive, but the nutrients make them worth it.
These fruits are dense in nutrients like ellagitannins, which have anti-cancer properties. Some also contain antioxidants that can help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and low blood pressure.
Salmon, sardines, mackerel
Seafood lovers, rejoice. Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Their superpower is the ability to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
You want to consume fish in moderation, however, due to the high levels of mercury they contain. Too much mercury can cause harm to the nervous, digestive and immune systems.
Beans and whole grains
Another factor of superfoods is a high-source of soluble fiber. Which is why beans and grains make the cut. The fiber and protein in beans lower cholesterol and increases satiety. Which means you’ll feel fuller quicker. This will help prevent obesity and other health conditions related to diet.
Whole grains are grains that haven’t been stripped of their nutrients. Eat whole grains to get a plenty of vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and protein.
Why Should You Eat Superfoods?
Put simply, no diet plan can give our bodies every nutrient it needs to thrive. But, choosing the right foods can get you pretty close.
Why consume “empty” foods that don’t do any good to your body? Nourish yourself by consuming a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
Your goal should be to get the most nutrients as possible in every bite that you take.
The term “superfood” is not scientifically defined. But, there’s no doubt that eating these foods do more good than bad.
Next time someone asks you, “what is a superfood”, you’ll have the answer! No, they don’t give you superhuman abilities. But they can help you live a healthier, longer life.
Which superfoods are on your shopping list? For more health tips, explore our blog!