Why Are Superfoods So Super?


You’ve probably heard of the word “superfood”, but do you know what it actually is?  

 

We love superfoods! However, there’s no scientifically based or regulated definition for superfood, it was coined for marketing purposes in the early 20th century. Regardless, the word “superfood” has become synonymous with foods that are rich in compounds such as antioxidants, high levels of vitamins, minerals, or fatty acids and are thought to have the capacity to positively affect health. There may not be a scientific definition for superfood, but we still think there’s a bunch of foods that are pretty super!

 

 

berries - Photo by Cecilia Par on Unsplash

Did you know that berries are one of the most commonly known superfoods? They are! Berries are basically a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. The high levels of antioxidants in berries are associated with reducing the amount of damaging free radicals in the body, reducing heart risk, and other inflammatory conditions. Some of the best berries for the body are blueberries, raspberries, acai, cherries, and blackberries. Not sure what an antioxidant is? Check out our article about Antioxidants: What Exactly Are They.

 

 

kale Photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

Another great superfood ...leafy greens! Specifically dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens, and swiss chard. Leafy greens are rich in vitamin A, C, E, K, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. They’re also a great source of folate, zinc, calcium, iron, and carotenoids which help reduce inflammation and may protect against certain types of cancer with their power rich antioxidants. 

 

 

salmon Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Aside from fruit and vegetables, salmon is also known as a popular superfood. Salmon is a very healthy fish packed with protein, B vitamins, potassium, selenium, and good-for-you fats like omega-3 fatty acids which are essential fats that our body can’t make on its own. Other varieties of fish that also contain omega-3’s are trout, herring, tuna and sardines help promote overall wellness. The only potential drawback to eating salmon and other types of seafood, it may increase the risk of exposure to contaminated heavy metals and other pollutants. We recommend eating fish and seafood in moderation and asking your doctor if you have any concerns. Check out this Healthline article for more information on mercury levels in seafood.

 

 

spirulina Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

There are some great superfood herbs and supplements too! Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae is known for it’s amazing list of health benefits, nutritional content, and can be taken as a dietary supplement. It’s high in protein, vitamins, and antioxidants. Spirulina is thought to help manage the symptoms of diabetes, aid in weight loss, improve gut health, and even reduce some allergy symptoms. Plus, did you know that spirulina is a source of Tryptophan, yep that stuff that makes us so happy and sleepy after the Thanksgiving turkey. Tryptophan is an amino acid that supports serotonin production, the chemical that contributes to wellness, happiness, and sleep regulation. 

 

 

tumeric Photo by hue12 photography on Unsplash

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice closely related to ginger that contains an active compound called curcuminCurcumin is high in antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory effects, and may also aid in pain reduction and speed healing - both internally and externally. 

 

 

ginger

Ginger, a root from a flowering plant from China, is a great flavor enhancer and has multiple medicinal properties. Ginger root contains antioxidants, may reduce the risk of chronic illness, reduces pain from inflammatory conditions, and is great for managing nausea. Ginger is one of our favorites. We love adding it to our tea, it tastes great and keeps us healthy!  Plus, it’s a must have for long car rides or a trip on the open sea.

 

 

Tea, especially purple tea, is another one of nature's superfoods. Purple tea contains the highest level of antioxidants compared to green or black tea. In addition to containing a high level of antioxidants, purple tea contains polyphenols, and anthocyanins. Polyphenols are micronutrients that the body absorbs through food and are thought to improve digestion, aid in weight management, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular diseases. Purple tea has the highest amount of polyphenols at 16.5% compared to green (9.1%), black (10.1%), or oolong tea (7.4%). Anthocyanins are a class of plant based chemicals with antioxidant components. They’re responsible for giving red, purple, and blue plants their vibrant hue. Furthermore, research suggests they are believed to be anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and provide cancer fighting benefits.

 

 

dark chocolate Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Another one of our favorite superfoods? Dark chocolate! It’s best to eat dark chocolate with a 70% or higher cocoa content to get all of the benefits. Why should you eat it? Dark chocolate is high in flavanols, a type of polyphenols, which can enhance blood flow, promote muscle growth, reduce stress, give you more energy, improve your mood, and even protect your skin from the sun!

 

While superfoods are, well, super! What’s even better, is focusing on the “super plate”. To see what a super plate looks like, check out this article from the Harvard School of Public Health. Foods including superfoods, are more beneficial when paired with a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and healthy proteins. So cheers to your health and being super! 

 

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