Have you ever wondered what is meant by a superfood?
There is always a lot of debate and information on what foods you should or should not eat. Eating balanced meals is not easy and people can spend a lot of time, worry, and money on trying to find the right things to eat for optimal health.
Some people may even go to extremes to get healthy and they may also try fad diets in order to try to lose weight. It can be very dangerous or even deadly if you eat too little or try some extreme fad diet, especially if you do this without checking with your doctor first.
So what should you do is the question most people would ask?
Well… it turns out that including so-called superfoods in your diet plans is a smart move!
So, are superfoods really that healthy?
You may ask yourself this question as well and wonder what this involves. We have written this blog article to explain what is actually meant by the term superfoods and what types of foods these are, and how they can actually help you.
What are superfoods?
Generally, the term superfood was coined to describe a food item which has a very high quantity and diversity of nutrients in it. This means that it is a food that you can expect to provide you with a lot of healthy goodness. After all, your body needs a variety of important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and of course, biological molecules of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Some of these foods are super antioxidant foods, which mean that they have substances that protect your cells from harmful oxidation reactions. These are cellular reactions that form harmful waste products that can damage cells and lead to disease.
In fact, superfoods, according to healthline does not include only one type of food since not a single food alone will give you all the nutrients that you need, which is probably something you already realize. It turns out that there are several choices of superfoods that you can select and add to your diet, to help your body get many of these helpful nutrients.
There are multiplebenefits of superfoods which is what we will discuss today in our blog article. We will also give you a top 10 superfoods list below to choose from next time you go shopping, so that you can choose the top superfoods for maximum benefits.
Berries are like natures “sweets”, tasty and yet packed full of healthy nutrients. Anyone who has snacked on blueberries and raspberries no doubt agrees with this statement. We have mentioned antioxidants before, and actually many berries are a terrific source of antioxidant compounds, based on results of research.
You really can’t go wrong including berries in your diet, and in fact, berries are one of the best superfoods to put in smoothies.
What is even better is that it is a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth, much better for you than eating sugar from candy and artificial sweeteners. Let’s face it – the biggest problem many of us have is avoiding sugar and desserts that tend to be bad for us! Why not make a superfood smoothie with berries rather than an ice-cream float? You can’t go wrong with berries, even if you eat a handful of fresh berries instead of a rich ice-cream dessert. In fact berries are one of the superfoods for weight loss that you can eat.
You may have heard of goji berry and wondered what are some goji berry health benefits? These types of berries contain strong antioxidants and help the immune system, your blood cells, and also help if you have cancer, according to a published study. They are also often eaten as one of the dried superfoods you can get.
2. Maca root
As stated by healthline, maca root is another great superfood that is actually a type of vegetable. The root is the part that is eaten and there are many maca benefits including the presence of healthy polyphenols and large quantities of vitamin C and iron.
The large amount of vitamin C means that the maca root is one of the superfoods for immune system support. Often you can buy maca in the form of powder, which can be added to healthy drinks. Maca powder benefits include being able to add to smoothies to mix in with sweeter-tasting substances, in case you do not like the taste of the maca. This is a great option for many people and quick and easy to do.
Maca may even assist women struggling with menopause, according to some scientists. Maca root extract does appear to help bones, which means it may be a good way to help you protect your bones and reduce the chances of osteoporosis from developing.
Osteoporosis is a risk as you get older, and it is a particular problem in women after menopause. This is because the female hormones protect a woman’s bones and once there is less estrogen being produced, it increases the chances of bone problems.
Spirulina is a type of algae, and yes, you may be thinking how can anybody consider eating algae? BUT….this is a definite superfood. According to healthline, Spirulina benefits include the presence of many nutrients in the tissues of the alga, including a good serving of vitamin B1 and B2.
The B vitamins are very important for many reactions in cells and they help your nervous system to function properly. However, you need to understand that in fact, vitamins alone are not the only things your body needs to stay healthy. Superfoods such as spirulina do contain some vitamins, but they have so much more than this, which is what makes them so special and useful for us to include in our diets.
Actually, spirulina also has lots of the good omega-3 fatty acids in it, which is yet another one of the many spirulina health benefits you get. Spirulina can be used as one of the vegan superfoods; after all it is not animal material so naturally is not a problem for people who are vegans.
One of the most powerful chemicals in the spirulina is phycocyanin, which is what gives the algae its green-blue color in real-life. This pigment molecule, though, is actually an awesome antioxidant! Spirulina can be found as one of a superfoods powder that you can add to smoothies and include as part of your superfoods diet.
4. Cacao Powder
When you think of raw cacao powder, or you hear the word cacao you probably think of chocolate. However, it is important to realize that only certain chocolate has large amounts of the healthy cacao present, and it should be at least 60 % or more cacao present. This is according to everydayhealth.
The problem is that most chocolate you find in the store do not have much cacao present and instead have lots of sugar, while the chocolates that are healthier and have a higher concentration of cacao, tend to have more of a bitter taste.
The bottom line is if you want healthy chocolate you need to look carefully for the right type and look at the ingredients, and in particular, the concentration of cacao that is in the chocolate bar. In fact, in many cases buying cacao as a powder may be a better choice.
Cacao powder benefits include the fact that it is one of the superfoods for lowering cholesterol. High cholesterol is one of the problems many people have today, often leading to heart and blood vessel disease.
5. Leafy greens
It probably comes as no surprise that leafy green vegetables are one of the superfoods to eat everyday. You probably grew up with your parents telling you to eat your veggies. They were not wrong. The Harvard.edu site states that vegetables such as spinach, collard greens, and kale, have high levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C and A.
Dark green vegetables also have lots of iron, fiber, magnesium, and calcium; these are all substances that your body needs to stay healthy. The importance of fiber found in vegetables should also not be underestimated. Dietary fiber helps you to feel full sooner so you do not overeat, and it helps keep you regular as well as helping the body in general.
You can use green veggies to make a fantastic superfood salad, and these veggies can easily be included in many different types of superfood recipes. You can even make a smoothie that includes spinach, or you can also add nuts to your vegetables to make an even more nutritious meal. There are many options available and recipes for how you can incorporate these dark green leafy veggies into your meal plans.
An excellent source of protein for everybody, nuts have a multitude of benefits. They contain large quantities of the good type of fat, the unsaturated fat. This includes omega-3 fatty acids which are actually beneficial for your heart and blood vessels because they help with inflammation in the body.
According to everydayhealth, nuts can also help to decrease the bad type of cholesterol, the LDL in the blood, which can block arteries causing atherosclerosis and increasing your risk of heart attack due to blood clots.
Several different varieties of nuts can be used in recipes, for instance you can include walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or pecans as part of many different meals or as an on-the-go type of snack. Even peanuts have health benefits that had been overlooked until now.
A clever and easy way to include nuts is to add it to a healthy cereal for breakfast. This way you get a boost of protein along with all the other benefits of eating raw nuts. Do be careful, though, to choose a high fiber and healthy breakfast cereal and not one that is loaded with added sugars.
Nuts can be includes as one of the diabetes superfoods, since some nuts can even help you to regulate your blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is a common problem that many adults develop as they grow older.
This is a condition which, even though you may still need medication to control, can also often be well-regulated by a change in diet and by increasing the amount of exercise you get. Nuts would be a good substitute for high sugar foods, like sweets, that you may have eaten in the past.
Eggs are a great superfood if you are not on a vegan diet. Research has shown that eggs contain many nutrients that are good for you including amino acids, vitamin B12, and choline and therefore are a good addition to pregnancy superfoods for non-vegans to eat. Eggs are also one of many superfoods for athletes.
We know that eggs are a great source of protein and can be a good breakfast food as a result. Since many athletes need a lot of protein, it is not surprising then that eggs are at the top of many athletes food choices.
You may wonder why eggs would be a better choice than say, red meat. Eating eggs rather than too much red meat leads to improved health, or so scientific studies have shown, so it seems that evidence is showing that eggs are actually a healthier choice when it comes to animal protein.
If you are a vegan, though, you obviously would not include eggs as part of your diet, but can choose from some other high protein options we have already talked about, such as nuts. Besides protein, though, you should also drink and eat foods that help the good bacteria in the gut, which brings us to a discussion on kefir.
Kefir has become popular as a drink in recent years, and for good reason. This is actually a drink that is made by fermentation that is partly based on milk and similar to yoghurt in containing probiotics, according to healthline. You may be wondering why probiotics are so good for you.
Probiotics are healthy microbes that help stop the bad bacteria and harmful yeast from taking hold in the gut, and they help protect the lining of your intestine. It is even more important to be aware of the importance of good bacteria if you have recently finished a course of antibiotics, since some of these can kill off the healthy bacteria leading to an imbalance in your gut.
Harmful bacteria like C. difficile can cause major gastrointestinal problems that can be very dangerous, so you would be wise to remember the value of probiotics, particularly if you have been taking antibiotics.
There are actually good microbes in kefir that help your digestive system to stay healthy, and they also even help your immune system, based on studies that have been done. A strong immune system is what you want because this is the part of your body that protects you from many diseases and infectious pathogens such as viruses and harmful bacteria.
Anybody who has suffered from a lot of nausea knows how unpleasant and debilitating this is. While a person can potentially buy medicine to help with the queasiness, there are natural substances that can be very helpful. According to healthline, ginger is one such substance that has been used by many to help quell the sick feeling you often get when you are having stomach problems.
Ginger tea can be drunk, but you can also nibble on ginger biscuits or sweets to help reduce nausea. It may also be useful in helping with inflammation in the body and it contains antioxidant chemicals. The ginger is, like maca, extracted from the root of the plant.
You may be wondering what evidence there is for ginger being a good nausea remedy. Studies done on people having gallbladder surgery has shown it to be helpful in preventing much of the nausea in the patients. Ginger is also something pregnant women can try to help them with the motion sickness they may experience during the early stages of their pregnancy.
You can also find ginger in several different forms, so it is easy to include as a snack food to have around the house, or as a tea that you can drink. In some cases you can probably buy ginger powder as well to use. It is a hot spice which goes a long way and this means you really would only need to use a little at a time, often, to get the benefits.
Garlic has traditionally been used to treat a variety of different ailments in the body. Garlic is the bulb of a plant, similar to onion, and it is a part of many meals since it adds flavor and taste to foods. People even make delicious garlic bread to eat.
There are many studies that have shown garlic to be effective against certain fungi, bacteria and viruses. Besides this, the garlic also contains lots of useful nutrients including, selenium, vitamin C and vitamin B6. We know that vitamin C is an essential micronutrient that helps wounds to heal and helps keeps you healthy and strong, since it is a strong antioxidant in cells.
Similar to other B vitamins we described earlier, vitamin B6 helps your nervous system and it helps with many of the chemical reactions your cells undergo every day. Selenium is a mineral which is only needed in small amounts by your cells, but is helpful in protecting your tissues from damage.
You can add garlic to many types of dishes and it is certainly a very good addition to many superfood recipes. It is one of the best ways to get a tasty meal and get all the associated goodness that garlic has because of the chemical compounds found within the plant.
Which of these superfoods should you choose?
Each one of us has our own likes and dislikes and you may not like all of the 10 superfoods we have discussed, but it is a good list to choose from. You should definitely try your best to incorporate one or more of the foods from our list, summarized below again.
- Maca root
- Cacao powder
- Leafy greens
You can find these superfoods in many different forms and there will be one or more that will suit your diet regardless of what meals you make. There are superfoods suitable for pregnant women, diabetics, and athletes. Regardless of if you are a vegan or not, there is something you can include.
Superfoods also often come in powder form, as we have mentioned, for several such as cacao and maca root, or can be eaten as is, like nuts and berries. You also have some superfoods you can take as drinks, including kefir, ginger, and cacao. Of course you can also use a blender to make a superfood drink that includes various superfood ingredients, in the form of a smoothie.
General health benefits of superfoods
We thought we should summarize quickly some of the general benefits of choosing superfoods. The top superfoods have many nutrients that the cells of your body needs. Several of the top 10 superfoods also protect your cells from oxidation damage, and are therefore excellent antioxidants.
Not only do the best superfoods protect you from illness but often they give you needed vitamins such as vitamin A, C, B2, B6, B12, and more. Minerals like selenium are also important and found in some of our superfoods.
In recent years, the value of omega-3 fatty acids has been recognized as a way to help reduce inflammatory reactions in the body. Chronic inflammation has been studied and linked to many illnesses and thus, taking in food that helps with this, is extremely helpful.
The importance of probiotics found in some superfoods and the significance of dietary fiber are also what makes some of these foods very healthy and why they should be included in a superfood diet.
Superfoods and illness
In addition, they can also help, in some cases to help ease symptoms such as nausea and may have antimicrobial activities.
Research is ongoing on all the superfoods we have discussed, but what is for certain, is that you can’t go wrong adding one or several of these to your diet. A small change can make a big impact but it is worth remembering to always check with your doctor about diet, especially if you do have a chronic medical condition that may need you to follow a special diet.
In conclusion, it can help you a great deal to know which foods contain the most beneficial nutrients and minerals, and this can also help you make smart choices when shopping.
Knowing which are the best superfoods will let you get the most for your money when you grocery shop!