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What Are Superfoods and What Can They Do For Your Health?


Overview of a variety of superfoods.

What Are Superfoods?

In the past decade, you might have noticed the popularization of “superfoods”. Most common of them are goji berries, raw cacao beans, chia seeds, some types of wild caught fish and a series of other food items that are labeled as “super” foods.


Being so, a lot of people started to add them to their diets, slowly noticing the great benefits that they could provide. The “exotic” (goji berries, maca root powder, spirulina, raw cacao nibs to name a few) examples have become extremely popular, but superfoods are actually more accessible than you might think.


“Super Foods” is a non-formal way to describe foods with a very high level of nutritional value in the ratio of its caloric value. They are primarily made up of plant-based food that is both wholesome and not processed, along with few fish and fermented dairy products on the list. These foods are typically packed with high doses of micronutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. As you probably know, certain nutrients in these foods can help our body heal, restore and completely renew our entire internal system.


Nutrients such as antioxidants found in these food items can also potentially prevent cancer. For example, salmon: The healthy Omega 3 fatty acids are good for our heart health. Whole Grains and Legumes, which are rich in fiber, are essential for healthy digestion and gut health.


Also, in the health criteria, we see that fermented dairy like Kefir or Pain Greek Yogurt is also very good for a healthy flora in our gut. Dark Leafy Greens like, and phytochemicals the chemicals in plants responsible for deep colors and smells, can have numerous health benefits.


Common Superfoods

Although there is a long list of foods that could potentially be deemed a "Superfood," they are actually more common than one might think. They may already be included in your diet, however it is important to understand why these foods are considered superfoods and the nutritional benefits they can provide. Here are a few options that can be added to your diet:


Berries

Berries are commonly referred to as "superfoods" because of their levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. These essential nutrients help decrease inflammation, ward off illnesses and boost the system. The antioxidants found in berries such, as anthocyanins and resveratrol shield cells from harm and could potentially reduce the chances of developing cancer, heart conditions and neurological issues. Additionally their fiber content supports digestive wellness and assists in managing weight.


Acai berries are more commonly found in South America and are known as a “superfruit” in Brazil, but incorporating them into our diets is becoming popular in the U.S as well, especially in the form of açai bowls. Açai is packed with fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. They also provide reasonable amounts of Vitamin A and even Calcium, Zinc, Iron and magnesium. Anthocyanins, the compound that gives the berries a deep color is also a powerful antioxidant.


Soy

Soy is a plant based protein option that offers nutrients and various health advantages. With its abundance of isoflavones a kind of phytoestrogen soy can aid in managing cholesterol levels. Potentially lowering the risk of heart disease. These isoflavones are also associated with easing symptoms. May contribute to reducing the likelihood of breast and prostate cancer. Soy serves as a protein source delivering all amino acids crucial for muscle recovery and development.


Frequent soy derived foods consist of tofu, which can be incorporated into an array of dishes ranging from stir fries, to treats; soy milk, a liked dairy substitute; tempeh, a fermented soy product known for its nutty taste; and edamame youthful soybeans often enjoyed when steamed. Soy sauce and miso commonly used in cooking represent favored variations of soy based products.


Tea

Drinking tea is beneficial for your health because it contains antioxidants like catechins and flavonoids which can help fight inflammation and protect against diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. 


Tea has also been shown to improve brain function, mood and alertness. Some types of tea like tea are known to boost metabolism and aid in weight management. Regular tea consumption is associated with a risk of stroke and reduced cholesterol levels. Moreover tea has caffeine, then coffee offers a milder effect that can improve focus without the jitters often caused by coffees caffeine content.


Leafy Greens

One of the most popular superfoods of 2020, and considered by many as the best superfood out there, dark green leafy vegetables are rich in Vitamin A, E, C, K, B-vitamins and antioxidants. They are also packed with fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium, as well as folate, an essential nutrient during pregnancy. Being so rich, they are necessary for anyone’s diet, mostly because it is considered one of the best options to prevent cancer due to its antioxidants.


Include vegetables such as spinach, kale and arugula in your meals for their nutrients and adaptability. Try blending spinach into smoothies, mixing kale into salads or soups or using arugula in sandwiches and pizzas to enjoy their benefits. These greens offer vitamins, minerals and fiber that enhance well being while also enhancing the taste of your dishes.


Dark leafy greens possess a lot of nutritional value for those greens’ little calories. That is why putting a bunch of Kale through a juicer provides a goldmine of micronutrients straight to your bloodstream. Because of separated fiber, which would naturally be much longer to digest if you had to eat that much kale. And let me say, one bunch of Kale is a lot of Kale to eat versus drinking 1-2 oz of the juice that 1 bunch produces.


Salmon

Salmon is often considered a top notch food choice because of its value. Packed with omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA salmon plays a role in keeping the heart healthy by reducing inflammation, managing blood pressure and lowering risks associated with heart disease. These fatty acids are also vital for brain function potentially lowering the chances of depression and cognitive decline. Moreover salmon serves as a source of high quality protein for muscle growth and repair.


In addition to its benefits salmon boasts antioxidants like astaxanthin for its pink hue; these antioxidants help safeguard the skin and cells from harm. Regular consumption of salmon can also enhance eye health due to its omega 3s and vitamin A content. Furthermore its vitamin D levels support bone health and immune system function making salmon a powerhouse, for well being.


Dark Chocolate

Close-up view of dark chocolate.

Who doesn't adore chocolate? Dark chocolate in particular is often hailed as a superfood when enjoyed in moderation. Packed with antioxidants, such as flavonoids it plays a role in reducing inflammation and enhancing heart health by reducing blood pressure and promoting circulation to both the heart and brain. 


Regularly indulging in chocolate has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease. Furthermore it contains compounds that can uplift one's mood and contribute to a sense of well being. 


Moreover dark chocolate provides minerals, like iron, magnesium and zinc that support muscle function, immune system strength and metabolic functions. Introducing chocolate into your diet can provide not delectable but also health boosting advantages.


Wine and Grapes

Enjoying wine and grapes can bring about health advantages because of their rich antioxidant content, such as resveratrol present in grape skins. Resveratrol has been associated with reducing inflammation, enhancing heart health and lowering the likelihood of cancers and heart diseases. Grapes and wine also contain flavonoids that play a role in regulating blood pressure and decreasing LDL cholesterol levels.


Despite the aspects there are misconceptions surrounding wine consumption, the notion that more is always better. While moderate wine intake – one glass per day for women and up to two for men – can be a choice, excessive drinking can nullify these benefits. Increase the risk of liver disease, heart complications and other health concerns. Another common misconception is that only red wine holds health benefits; although red wine boasts antioxidants, white wine also contributes to well being. Striking a balance through moderation is crucial, in making wine a beneficial part of one's diet.


Other Superfoods:

  • Quinoa

  • Broccoli

  • Walnuts

  • Flaxseeds

  • Pomegranate

  • Oats

  • Red Cabbage

  • Beets

  • Spirulina

  • Coconut Oil

  • Black Beans

  • Maca Root






Diet

Consuming foods packed with nutrients promotes total health and increased Immunity Levels, reducing stress and depressive symptoms. Although “superfoods” are not an official food group according to the American Heart Association, adding them to your diet can impose great health benefits.


One of them is their ability to provide a higher nutritional value while still being low calorie, which can be beneficial for those on a weight loss journey – even if they’re not counting calories -. It’s also essential to notice that superfoods will have even better effects when combined with an overall healthy diet, as they can’t merely nullify a bad eating pattern. 


My favorite way to incorporate superfoods into my daily diet is adding it to my protein shakes. Things like chia seeds, acai, goji berries, flax seed, spirulina, etc. 


Another way to make sure I get a mega dose of these superfoods is through juicing. Although I do not practice daily juicing all year round, it is always nice to incorporate it as much as you can throughout the week even if it’s just on the weekend.


As crucial as adding superfoods to your diet, removing harmful food items from it – or at least, reducing it -, it’s also incredibly beneficial.


Always ask yourself, “how much nutritional value is in the amount of calories that this or that food brings to your plate?” If the answer is “not a lot” perhaps you can slowly wean off of this food for good and you will never want to eat it again after abstaining from it long enough. Good example of that would be a 2-inch square brownie, which can easily pack up to 450 calories in it vs. a Green Superfood Smoothie with the same amount of calories. Clearly the smoothie has a ton more.


Risks

Only depending on supplements to get the nutrients present in superfoods can be risky. Unlike foods, relying on supplements may result in imbalances of nutrients and excessive intake of vitamins or minerals which could potentially lead to health issues such as liver damage or weakened bone density. Whole foods naturally contain a rounded mix of nutrients that work together synergistically to enhance health benefits and absorption. Additionally whole foods provide fiber and other bioactive compounds that are missing in supplements. Hence getting nutrients directly from foods is typically safer and it offers comprehensive health advantages.


Tips For Using Supplements

Woman researching supplements.

When it comes to taking supplements it's crucial to remember a few tips, for your safety and well being. Before you begin any supplement regimen be sure to speak with a healthcare professional especially if you have any existing health issues or are on medication. Opt for supplements that undergo third party testing to ensure they're pure and potent. Stick to the recommended doses to prevent any side effects from over-consumption. Take the time to carefully read labels to watch out for allergens and extra additives. Lastly focus on getting your nutrients from a diet first, only using supplements as a backup plan to fill in any specific nutrient gaps.


Check Out These Superfood Recipes





Dark Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are often hailed as superfoods because of their content, which includes essential vitamins, like A, C and K as well as minerals such as iron and calcium. They are also packed with fiber. Are low in calories making them a great choice for managing weight and promoting digestion. There is a variety to choose from ranging from options like spinach and kale to more exotic selections such as Swiss chard and collard greens each offering its own distinct flavors and health benefits.


The proven advantages of consuming leafy greens include promoting eye health through nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin along with enhancing bone health due to their vitamin K levels. Additionally they play a role in lowering the risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes by providing antioxidants and anti inflammatory properties.


Integrating greens into your meals can be both simple and enjoyable. You can blend spinach into smoothies, for an added boost without altering the taste. Kale can be incorporated into salads by massaging it or cooked by sautéing or baking it into crispy chips. Collard greens work well as wraps of bread for a carb option while Swiss chard can be quickly stir fried with garlic to create a delicious side dish.


Berries

Berries are considered superfoods because they are rich in nutrients and have calorie levels. They contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants like anthocyanins and ellagic acid which help fight stress and may lower the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Their fiber content also aids in digestion. Promotes a feeling of fullness.


Different types of berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries provide combinations of nutrients and bioactive substances. For example blueberries are known for their effects on brain health while raspberries boast levels of fiber compared to other fruits.


It's easy and enjoyable to incorporate berries into your meals. You can enjoy them fresh as a snack. Add them to smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast. Berries can also be used as sweeteners in baking or added to salads for a touch. Additionally you can make compotes, with berries that complement both savory dishes perfectly.


Green Tea

Green tea is well loved for its health benefits, due to its rich content of antioxidants like catechins. These compounds are known to help combat inflammation and potentially reduce the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Additionally green tea supports brain function and weight loss by increasing metabolism. Unlike coffee, which can sometimes cause jitters due to its caffeine content, green tea provides a milder and sustained energy boost.


There are many ways to enjoy tea. You can drink it hot or cold, blend it into smoothies or use it in cooking to enhance the flavor and nutritional value of dishes. Incorporating tea into your routine can become a soothing ritual that not keeps you hydrated but also provides an array of health promoting properties that contribute to overall wellness.


Eggs

Eggs in a wicker basket.

Eggs are known for being a source of nutrients, their high quality protein that provides all the essential amino acids our bodies need. This protein is beneficial for repairing muscles, maintaining bone health and supporting body tissue growth.


In addition to protein, eggs are packed with nutrients like vitamins D and B12, selenium and chlorine which is important for brain function and metabolism. Their versatility in cooking makes them a fantastic addition to any diet. You can enjoy eggs boiled, poached, scrambled or as part of omelets. They are also perfect for baking or adding to salads, for protein. Eggs can be paired with grains and vegetables to create a meal at any time of day.


Legumes

Legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas are often hailed as superfoods because of their content. They serve as a plant based protein source, commonly included in vegetarian and vegan meal plans. Additionally legumes are packed with fiber that aids in digestion and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.


Moreover they provide vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium. Folate contributes to overall well being by supporting functions such as heart health and cell development. Incorporating legumes into your diet regularly can help lower cholesterol levels reduce blood pressure and mitigate the risks of conditions, like heart disease and diabetes.


Nuts and Seeds

The famous chia seeds are incredibly nutritious and are labeled as a “perfect protein”. Proteins are called “perfect” when they contain all the needed amino acids. Chia seeds are also rich in fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. One of the most significant benefits about chia seeds is that they are incredibly versatile, meaning that you can add the seeds in your juices, salads, smoothies and a variety of other recipes.


A nut that could be labeled as a superfood is almonds. These nutritious nuts are incredibly good for heart health as they are packed with good sources of fats, antioxidants and minerals. With just 28g of almonds, you can get a decent amount of fiber, protein, vitamin E, magnesium and manganese. Similar to the chia seeds, almonds are also super easy to add into your diet. You can carry them with you as a snack between meals or add them to our main meals as a fat source. They will help with controlling your blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.


Kefir (And Yogurt)

Bowls of yogurt with berries and granola.

Kefir and yogurt are often hailed as superfoods because of their content, which is great for our digestive system by keeping a healthy balance of gut bacteria. These fermented dairy products also provide nutrients like protein, calcium, B vitamins, potassium and magnesium that help with bone health, muscle function and metabolism.


Consuming kefir and yogurt has been proven to strengthen the system reduce inflammation and assist in preventing digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. The probiotics in them are even linked to health by easing symptoms of anxiety and depression through the connection between the gut and brain.


There are ways to include kefir or yogurt in your diet. You can enjoy them on their own as snacks, blend them into smoothies or use them in dressings. Mixing berries and nuts with yogurt or kefir can boost their value further by adding antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats present in these superfoods. This does not enhance the taste. Also increases the health benefits, for a nutrient rich meal or snack that promotes overall well being.


Garlic

Garlic is well known for its effects on health because of its component allicin, known for its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Eating garlic regularly can strengthen the system, blood pressure and decrease the chances of heart disease by enhancing cholesterol levels. Its ability to fight viral infections is valuable. Its potential anti-cancer benefits are gaining more recognition. Including garlic in your meals can also aid in detoxification processes making it a beneficial ingredient, for both taste and well being.


Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil specifically plays a role in the Mediterranean diet. Is widely recognized for its many health advantages. It contains levels of monounsaturated fats that support heart health by reducing cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol levels. Additionally olive oil is packed with antioxidants that shield the body from stress potentially lowering the risk of illnesses like cancer, heart disease and Alzheimers.


Integrating olive oil into your meals is simple and versatile. You can use it as a dressing for salads, drizzle it over cooked veggies or substitute it for butter in cooking and baking for an option. It works wonders in sautéing or creating marinades to impart a delicate fruity taste to dishes while enhancing their value.


Ginger

Ginger is highly valued as a superfood because of its bioactive compounds, gingerol, known for its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Including ginger in your diet can ease nausea, fight flu symptoms and aid digestion by relieving indigestion and reducing bloating. Its anti-inflammatory properties can also help manage arthritis pain and muscle soreness. Moreover consuming ginger may contribute to lowering blood sugar levels and enhancing heart health. You can incorporate ginger into teas, smoothies and various sweet or savory dishes for a boost, with added health perks.


Turmeric (Curcumin)

Turmeric is highly regarded as a superfood because of its component curcumin, known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Incorporating turmeric into your diet whether in smoothies, curries or tea can have effects on your well being by reducing inflammation, easing discomfort and potentially lowering the chances of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimers. Embracing turmeric in your meals may not boost your system but also support overall healing processes.


Salmon

A piece of raw Salmon.

Any fatty fish can be considered a superfood due to their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health. Not to come as a surprise, salmon is considered by many as one of the most nutritious foods out there.


It’s vital to make sure you’re consuming food items rich in omega-3 because they are considered “essential”. Like some amino acids, our bodies can’t produce them, but they are needed, meaning that we must consume them through our diets. As fish is often taken as a secondary source of protein, many people suffer from an omega-3 deficiency, increasing inflammation and increasing blood pressure.


Avocado

Avocados are well known for their health advantages primarily due to their monounsaturated fat content. These healthy fats help support heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol levels. Avocados are also packed with fiber, which aids digestion, promotes a feeling of fullness and helps with weight control. Moreover they are a source of vitamins and minerals like potassium for blood pressure regulation and folate for cell repair and pregnancy support.


When it comes to cooking, avocados offer versatility. They can be mashed into guacamole, added to sandwiches or salads as slices, or blended into smoothies for a velvety texture. Additionally they serve as an alternative to butter in baking recipes. By incorporating avocados into your meals you do not only enhance their flavor you also enjoy significant health perks.


Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients. Offer a range of health advantages. They are abundant in vitamins A and C which help boost the system and maintain skin serving as potent antioxidants to combat harmful free radicals. Their substantial fiber content supports health and assists in managing blood sugar levels making them particularly helpful for controlling diabetes.


Additionally sweet potatoes contain potassium, which aids in regulating blood pressure. Including them in your meals is simple. You can roast, mash. Turn them into fries to add a naturally sweet touch to any dish.


Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been gaining popularity as a superfood thanks to their blend of nutrients and health benefits. They provide B vitamins, selenium, potassium and antioxidants that play a role in boosting immunity and enhancing well being. Interestingly mushrooms are among the animal sources of vitamin D crucial for maintaining strong bones and a healthy immune system especially with sun exposure.


Additionally mushrooms contain compounds that may aid in reducing cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of heart disease. They also possess inflammatory properties that could help manage conditions like arthritis. Certain types like shiitake and reishi are known for their immune boosting effects and potential anti cancer properties.


Integrating mushrooms into your meals can be as easy as including them in soups, salads, stir fries or omelets. Their rich flavor and satisfying texture make them a great meat alternative, in dishes.


Seaweed

Seaweed is considered a food because it contains a wide range of important nutrients, such as iodine that is essential for thyroid function and tyrosine that helps in the production of thyroid hormones. It also provides vitamins A, C and E as minerals like zinc and iron.


Seaweed includes a kind of fiber that can support digestion and weight control by managing blood sugar levels. Moreover its abundant antioxidants can help safeguard against cell damage and chronic illnesses. Adding seaweed to your meals can be as easy as mixing it in soups, salads or sushi or using it to season dishes, for taste and increased nutrient intake.





The Bottom Line

As you can probably tell by now, superfoods are not as complicated as one might think. They are simply food items known to have more nutritional benefits than their peers, especially when compared to junk food and processed food. 


Notice how the items listed are all-natural, non-processed foods you can find in your local organic store. And that’s the goal. Natural organic food items are often packed with nutrients and minerals, therefore being the better option when one is seeking for better health.


Adding superfoods to your meals is a simple and flexible way to boost your nutrition. You can effortlessly integrate them into your dishes like mixing berries or seeds into your breakfast yogurt or oats incorporating leafy greens into smoothies and using olive oil in both cooking and dressings. With a variety of superfoods, at your disposal improving your diet for well being can be both straightforward and enjoyable.


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