Lately, there has been a lot of buzz going around ‘superfoods’ all over the internet and the media. From celebrities to health and beauty brands, everybody is vouching for superfoods. But literally, what are superfoods? And why are people making hype about it?
Superfood is a relatively new term that refers to foods that offer maximum nutritional value at minimal calories. Superfoods are packed with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. While there aren’t any legal definitions or standard criteria that classify food as a superfood, the majority of them are plant-based protein foods.
There are numerous foods that can be described as ‘super,’ but it is essential to understand that there is no one food that holds the key to disease prevention and good health. You will have to take a balanced diet, followed by exercise and some mental health activities for your overall good health and fitness.
Nevertheless, since the term ‘superfood’ has been already thrown around the courtroom, it is worth taking a closer look at what it is and what are the benefits of superfoods.
With that in mind, we have created this post to help you understand everything you need to know about superfoods. We will also name the most popular foods that can be categorized as superfoods.
Let’s get started.
What are superfoods?
Superfoods are natural organic foods that have high nutritional value. That is, they provide a significant amount of the daily recommended nutrients and very little calories. These nutritional powerhouses are known to be the richest sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and enzymes, among other healthy components. A superfood can provide you with all the daily recommended nutrients that are essential to your overall health and wellbeing. Superfoods are basically plant-based sources like leaves, seaweed, grasses, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. However, healthy fats like omega-3s are derived from fatty fishes. Nevertheless, you can easily find the majority of the superfoods at your local or online health food store.
Antioxidant – a major component in superfood
Antioxidants are the major reasons why superfoods became so popular. Antioxidants help in neutralizing the free radicals in our bodies. They can reverse or decrease the effects of free radicals in our bodies, which otherwise can cause numerous health problems, such as:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Immune deficiency
- Respiratory diseases
- Heart disease
Benefits of Superfoods
The high mineral and vitamin content found in superfoods can help your immune system ward off diseases and keep your wellbeing intact. When incorporated into a well-balanced diet, superfoods can promote weight loss, heart health, reduce the effects of aging, improve energy levels, stimulate healthy sleep, improve bone health, and more.
- Phytochemicals found in superfoods can help you reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Fiber can help prevent digestive problems and diabetes
- Healthy fats can lower the risk of heart disease
- Antioxidants can help in boosting skin health and may reduce the chances of cancer
Superfoods are known to reduce inflammation, regulate metabolism, lower cholesterol, and protect your organs from toxins.
Importance of a Well-Balanced Diet
Please note that many people have unrealistic expectations regarding superfoods. They think that they will be protected from health problems and chronic diseases when they eat these nutrient-rich foods on top of a poor diet. Hence, eating a well-balanced diet is the key to good health, rather than just concentrating on individual foods.
Eating too much of a single type of food can prevent you from getting the recommended daily nutrients and actually be detrimental to your health. For this very reason, these foods should be added to a well-balanced diet. No single food can provide you with all the essential nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants you need. Since your body requires many types of vitamins and minerals, it is important to eat a wide variety of superfoods to obtain the health benefits your body needs. So, don’t just rely on one superfood to achieve healthy wellbeing.
A nutritious and well-balanced diet includes nuts, legumes, whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, and fruits while avoiding the consumption of refined sugar, bad fats, and sodium. When combined with regular physical activity and exercise, a well-balanced diet can work wonders for your health.
Top Superfoods That you Should Include in Your Diet
Now that you have learned a lot about superfoods, from what makes them super to how they influence our health and wellbeing, the importance of including them in a well-balanced diet, among other aspects, it is time to learn about the top superfoods that are worthy of the title.
1. Goji Berries
Native to Asia, goji berries have been used as a food supplement and medicinal herb for the past 2000 years. Many people ask what are goji berries good for. Well, this superfood comes with a plethora of health benefits. According to a study published in Optometry and Vision journal, older adults who drank goji berry juice for 90 days experienced an increase in zeaxanthin, which is extremely important for overall eye health. Apart from eye health, goji berries also –
- Prevents liver damage
- Improves sleep, anxiety, and depression
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Promotes healthy skin
- Protects against cancer
- Provides immune system support
Goji berries are rich in vitamins A and C and essential plant based protein, beta-carotene, and other antioxidants.
Spirulina is an algae that grows in both salt and freshwater. It is available in a tablet and powdered form. Spirulina powder benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease, have anti-cancer properties, reduce blood pressure, improves symptoms of allergic rhinitis, effective against anemia, improves endurance and muscle strength, and may help with blood sugar control. This is because spirulina is extremely high in many nutrients, such as:
Cacao is the purest form of chocolate that packs antioxidants in abundance. It is one of the best super antioxidant foods available out there. It contains more calcium than cow’s milk. It is densely rich in minerals like magnesium and iron. Cacao is considered to be a mood enhancer. With that said, the most significant raw cacao benefits include relieving stress and depression. On top of that, the antioxidants present in cacao help in boosting heart health and controlling blood pressure.
If you are vegetarian and looking for plant protein sources, then your best option is legumes. This superfood is a rich source of protein and fiber, along with numerous minerals and B vitamins. The high fiber content also makes legumes one of the best superfoods for weight loss, as it can help you improve your feelings of fullness.
Berries are the powerhouse of antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Including berries in your diet is associated with reduced risk of inflammatory conditions like cancer and heart diseases. The following are the most popular berries to eat:
6. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are rich in vegan protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Research suggests that they are incredibly protective against heart disease and are packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Common nuts and seeds include:
- Hemp seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
- Macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds
Other Notable Mentions
- Dark leafy greens – spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, swiss chard, kale
- Green Tea
- Fatty Fishes – salmon, mackerel, trout, sardine, seabass (omega-3 rich foods)
- Olive Oil
- Garlic and Ginger
- Sweet Potato
The best thing is that many of the superfoods in this list can be grown at home! Everything from strawberries to pumpkins to hemp seeds can be grown either in a garden or inside. Some things are obviously easier to grow than others, like hemp which can be easily sourced by a seed producer similar to ILGM, and can be grown with little need for watering. Pumpkins can be a little trickier as they need lots of outdoor space and sunlight, but if you have the right conditions they’re a food grower’s dream.
When you strategically combine these superfoods to create a balanced diet, you are doing your health a favor. It doesn’t matter what your health and fitness goals are, including these superfoods in your diet will bring in a lot of positive changes.
Welcome to Motivational’s. This is Elliot Grant, fitness fanatic, and your go to advisor and blog post writer, putting your fitness first.