The term “superfood” is a fairly new term referring to foods that offer maximum nutritional benefits for minimal calories. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
No standard criteria or legal definitions classify any food as a superfood at this time. However, most superfoods are plant-based.
Superfoods are foods that have a very high nutritional density. This means that they provide a substantial amount of nutrients and very few calories.
They contain a high volume of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Antioxidants are natural molecules that occur in certain foods. They help neutralize free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are natural byproducts of energy production that can wreak havoc on the body.
Studies have demonstrated that superfoods high in antioxidants and flavonoids help prevent coronary heart disease and cancer, as well as improving immunity and decreasing inflammation.
Regularly eating fruits and vegetables also has strong associations with a lower risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions and overall mortality.
The nutrients they contain help promote a healthy complexion, nails, and hair and increase energy levels.
They can also help maintain a healthy weight.
The higher levels of flavonoids in berries have been shown to lower the risk of a heart attack. A few commonly identified superfood berries include acai berries, blueberries, raspberries, tart cherries, cranberries, and goji berries.
Soybeans have a high concentration of isoflavones, a type of phytochemical. Phytochemicals are compounds that occur naturally in plants.
Tea contains few calories, helps with hydration, and is a good source of antioxidants.
People often identify kale, spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, and collard greens as superfood leafy greens. These foods are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, and many B vitamins.
The high omega-3 fatty acid content in salmon and other fatty fish, such as trout and herring, can decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, reduce cholesterol and slow the growth of arterial plaque.
Research has found that dark chocolate is high in flavonoids. Flavonoids demonstrate antioxidant activity, prevent coronary heart disease and certain types of cancer, and boost the immune system.
Superfoods gaining popularity include:
- blue-green algae
- beets and beet juice
- Brazil nuts
A person can incorporate these foods into a varied healthy diet when available. However, do not overspend or search too widely trying to find them.
The secret is that any leafy green vegetable or berry in a grocery store will provide many of the same benefits an individual will find in the premium-priced superfoods.
Buy your produce in season and from local sources to ensure the highest nutrient content. Do not discount the humble apple or carrot either — all fruits and vegetables are essentially superfoods.
Replacing as many processed foods as possible with whole foods will drastically improve health.
These tips can help you get more superfoods into your diet:
- Look at the colors on your plate. Is all of your food brown or beige? Then it is likely that antioxidant levels are low. Add in foods with rich color like kale, beets, and berries.
- Add shredded greens to soups and stir fries.
- Try replacing your beef or poultry with salmon or tofu.
- Add berries to oatmeal, cereal, salads or baked goods.
- Make sure you have a fruit or a vegetable every time you eat, including meals and snacks.
- Have a daily green or matcha tea.
- Make turmeric, cumin, oregano, ginger, clove, and cinnamon your go-to spices to amp up the antioxidant content of your meals.
- Snack on nuts, seeds (especially Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds) and dried fruit (with no sugar or salt added).