‘Superfoods’ is a term you probably have heard countless times. This word has been around since World War 1, but it’s become even more popular recently. Thanks to the growing food industry, it may not be going anywhere soon.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about superfoods – Types, examples, benefits, and side effects.
What are Superfoods?
Superfoods are unprocessed foods with high-density nutrients and minimal calories. They are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and can help you meet your daily nutritional demands.
There’s no official standard for the classification of Superfoods. But they are mostly plant-based, with some exceptions like fish and egg.
The high amount of antioxidants, phytochemicals, minerals, and vitamins present in these foods improve immunity and general wellbeing. However, they should not replace a healthy and balanced diet.
Superfoods are healthy, yet they are not a panacea for curing diseases. Your goal should be to eat a healthy diet generally, with the inclusion of these superfoods.
Types of Superfoods
1. Natural Superfoods
These are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and some animal products.
Berries are one of the best superfoods. They contain antioxidants and phytochemicals called flavonoids. Research shows the antioxidants and phytochemicals in berries may have an anti-cancer effect. They also protect against free radicals.
Acai berries are another type of superfood berries rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, and calcium. They are the dark-purple colored berries. You can make a superfood smoothie with acai puree and fresh fruits.
Goji berries are a good source of protein. They contain up to 18 amino acids, high antioxidants, and help boost immune function.
Cranberries contain a compound, proanthocyanidins, which reduces risks of a urinary tract infection. Other common berries include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
Fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, and selenium. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of heart diseases. They also improve brain function. Other fishes that contain Omega-3 include mackerel, albacore tuna, mussels, oysters, herring, sardines, trout, and anchovies.
Dark Leafy Vegetables
Examples are collard greens, kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and spinach. They contain a high volume of vitamins like Vitamin A, C, and K.
Also, they’re rich sources of fiber, iron, magnesium, antioxidants, calcium, and folate. Carotenoids present in these vegetables help get rid of harmful compounds, including some chemicals that cause cancer.
You can add them to your soup, stew, salad or smoothie. You can also make sautéed vegetables with garlic and herbs.
Avocado is one of the best superfoods due to its high-density nutrients. This fruit has a large volume of healthy monounsaturated fat, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Avocado contains more potassium than a banana, and this may support blood pressure levels. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. You can make a superfood smoothie with avocados, spread on sandwiches, or add to your dishes. There’s a lot you can do with this fruit.
Nuts have plant protein, vitamin E, fiber, and magnesium. They also contain healthy fats and antioxidants. Almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, are examples. You can snack on a handful of these nuts or add to your dishes.
Healthy seeds contain essential amino acids, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants. Common examples include chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
You can easily add these seeds when making a smoothie; mix with or sprinkle into your dishes. You can use ground or whole.
Eggs are hands down one of the most nutritious foods ever. Unlike most superfoods that are plant-based, the egg is an animal product. It contains essential amino acids, iron, selenium, phosphorus, and vitamins. Two antioxidants, zeaxanthin and lutein, present in egg enhance eye health.
Quinoa, a popular superfood, is full of essential amino acids, antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, and iron. It contains more nutrients than other grains. You can consume as a cereal for breakfast, substitute for other grains or use in baking. Quinoa is a common ingredient in superfood salads. Wheat berries, brown rice, oatmeal, bulgur, are other whole grains.
Legumes provide iron, protein, vitamins, and have antioxidant properties. They also have a high amount of fiber and reduce the risks of certain diseases. Some common legumes include beans, alfalfa, lentils, peas, peanuts and soybeans. You can add legumes to salads, soups, casseroles,
These are high in vitamins and folic acids. They also contain sulforaphane, and phytochemicals like thiocyanates, and nitriles, which have anti-cancer properties. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, and turnips.
You can make a plate of superfood salad with these veggies, or add to soups and stews.
Kefir and Yoghurt
Yoghurt and kefir are one of the best superfoods rich in probiotics. They also contain vitamin D, B, K, potassium, protein, and calcium. Probiotics help improve gut health. It’s best to go with the unsweetened, plain yoghurt. Choose yoghurts that have live and active cultures like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.
Green tea contains antioxidants, polyphenol, alkaloids, and L-theanine. An antioxidant present in green tea, catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), protects against chronic diseases. Green tea also boosts the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties.
The catechins in green teas increase your body’s metabolism and make you burn fat. Hence, green tea is efficient in weight loss. Green tea also prevents gum diseases and improves oral health.
They contain antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K and potassium. Tomatoes contain a high amount of lycopene, a compound with anti-cancer properties. They’re also good for healthy skin. Use in your sauces, soups, or you can eat raw. Also, add some slices to your salads.
Garlic has a lot of nutrients. It’s been in use for years for its numerous health benefits. Garlic contains vitamins C and B6, fiber, antioxidants, and manganese. Some of its benefits include reduced risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol. Also effective against flu and high blood pressure.
Olive oil is a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fat, vitamins E, K, and polyphenols. The healthy fat reduces your chances of getting heart disease and increases the level of good cholesterol. Use olive oil in place of butter for a healthier diet, or add to your salads and vegetables.
Ginger is a spicy herb with its origin from China. Due to its many benefits, it has spread around. The compound “gingerol” present in ginger has a lot of health benefits. Studies show ginger can help relieve pain, reduce nausea, and reduce sugar levels. You can use fresh or add to your soup, sauces, and other dishes. It’s also available in powdered form. You can mix into your smoothie or make a cup of ginger tea.
Turmeric does more than add colour to your dishes. This spice has a lot of benefits, thanks to its active compound, curcumin. Curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Using turmeric with black pepper helps enhance the absorption of curcumin.
2. Green Superfoods
What is Green Superfoods?
These are blends of organic superfoods, plant extracts and active enzymes. They typically contain fruits, vegetables, digestive enzymes, and plant extracts in a powdered form. The ingredients in a green superfood will vary by brand.
Another term for green superfoods is green supplements. They provide additional nutrients to your body and are not substitutes for a healthy diet. You can mix green supplements with water, juice, or any liquid. There are green superfood capsules as well.
The ingredients in a green superfood are wide-ranged. You need to be sure you’re getting enough of the nutrients and in the right form. Look for products that contain organic superfoods –fruits and vegetables. Organic superfoods are free from pesticides, fertilizers, and other artificial chemicals. Also, green superfoods that include digestive enzymes and probiotics are a plus. They’ll help improve your gut health and support the immune system.
Types of Green Superfoods
Green superfoods are generally of two types:
1. Green Superfood Powder
Superfood powder is available in different formulations by different companies. No two superfood powders have exact ingredients. They contain different high anti-oxidant fruits, leafy vegetables, and other superfoods.
You can find superfood powders in different delicious tastes. Think about chocolate, fruity, and other mouthwatering flavours. Watch out for companies that use artificial ingredients to improve the taste.
To take, you’ll need to prepare them by mixing into water, beverages, and any drink. You can make a superfood smoothie with a scoop of this powder and your favourite ingredients.
2. Green Superfood Capsules
Unlike superfood powders, capsules are tasteless. Superfood capsules are your best bet if you don’t like the taste of grass or vegetables.
They are also easy to take. You pop a capsule into your mouth and swallow with a glass of water. You can break open the superfood capsule and pour the powder into your drink. The choice is yours. You can take 1 to 3 servings daily.
One advantage with capsules is the convenience. You can carry about to the gym, office, or wherever you need to.
Superfood for Weight loss
Superfoods are whole and unprocessed foods, with low-calorie content. One of the healthiest ways to lose weight is to include superfoods to your diet. They provide you with maximum nutrient while promoting weight loss. They are also rich in fiber which makes you feel satiated.
Are superfoods keto-friendly?
The ketogenic diet allows you to take high-fat, adequate-protein and low carb diet. Many superfoods have a high volume of healthy fat, like monounsaturated fat. They will help you achieve ketosis if you’re on a keto diet.
Some superfoods contain antioxidants that boost metabolism and burn fat.
Here are some of the best superfoods you can include in your keto diet:
- Dark, leafy greens
- Olive oil
- Green tea
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
How to use superfoods for weight loss?
- Eat them raw. You can also snack on flax seeds, berries, almond nuts, etc.
- Add to your cooking and side dishes.
- Take green superfood powders. There are a lot of keto-friendly powders you can add to your drink.
- Make superfood smoothies with kale, avocado, spinach, berries, and your favorite natural ingredients.
- Prepare delicious superfood salads, with ingredients like quinoa, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggs, tomatoes, avocado, olive oil.
Benefits of Superfoods
Superfoods contain high antioxidants. They are also rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The high-density nutrients present in these foods make them efficient in improving health.
Some of the many benefits of superfoods include:
Strengthen the immune system: Superfoods are rich sources of nutrients, including vitamins and antioxidants, which boost immunity. Eating fruits and vegetables is one of the common ways to keep your immune system at its optimum level.
Prevent Chronic Diseases: These foods are rich sources of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Antioxidants protect the cells and tissues from damages by free radicals. They may protect against certain types of cancer. Cruciferous and dark leafy vegetables are beneficial in reducing your risk of getting a heart disease. They also prevent oxidative damages and protect against free radicals.
Reduce Inflammation: Superfoods have anti-inflammatory properties. Short-term inflammation can protect your body against foreign invaders. However, when it persists, it can lead to heart diseases, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Highly processed foods cause inflammation. You can reverse this by eating a healthy diet.
Manage Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels: A lot of factors are necessary for managing cholesterol level, and a healthy diet is inclusive. You can also regulate your blood sugar level by eating the right food. Healthy fats and foods rich in fiber help lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
Superfoods are high in healthy fats like monounsaturated fats and fiber. These healthy fats lower cholesterol levels and prevent risks of heart diseases and stroke.
Eggs are high in cholesterol, but they don’t increase your blood cholesterol levels. Some superfoods have a low glycemic index which keeps your sugar levels in check. People with Type 2 diabetes will benefit from superfoods high in fiber, healthy fats, minerals and antioxidants.
Promote Digestive Health: You can keep your digestive system healthy by eating fiber-rich foods. The fiber present in these foods help in digestion and prevent constipation. Natural fiber feeds the good bacterial in our large intestine to enhance bowel movement and restore gut flora. Superfoods also contain antioxidants good for your gut health. A healthy digestive system supports immunity.
Brain function: The right food plays a role in your brain function and other cognitive abilities. Superfoods contain antioxidants that protect you from brain damage and neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Omega 3 fatty acids are abundant in fatty fishes. You can also find them in other superfoods like nuts, eggs, and seeds. Omega-3 protects your brain against mental decline and improves brain function.
Improve Energy Levels: Superfoods will help boost your energy level and make you feel revitalized. They are high in nutrients that promote energy level and allow the flow of more oxygen to tissues. You’ll run out of strength if your vitamin and mineral intake is low. A change in your diet will increase your energy and stamina.
Weight loss: Superfoods are good sources of fiber, which helps in weight control. This fiber makes you feel full and satisfied, so you don’t have to eat a lot. They are also sources of healthy fats that increase metabolic processes and make you burn fat. Many superfoods are keto-friendly. They contain low-carbohydrate, and you can include them in your keto-diet plan.
Side Effects of Superfoods
We can’t say foods rich in vitamins and minerals are bad for your health. That would be ridiculous. However, it’s best to include various superfoods to your diet, and not just eat a particular food. You don’t want to overdose on any of these foods.
Different companies manufacture various Green superfood supplements. You should get only high-quality and organic products from trustworthy brands. Also, read the label to check for the ingredients they contain. Stay away from products filled with artificial ingredients and sweeteners.
If you’re on medication, some supplements may interact with your drugs. To stay safe, you should consult with your doctor or health-care practitioner. Also, talk with your doctor if you have a health issue before taking dietary supplements.
If you’re allergic to any of these superfoods, you may need to stop taking them. Include only foods you’re not sensitive to in your diet.
Superfoods provide more health benefits than most foods, hence the name. They are good sources of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
Try to replace processed foods with whole vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts. Incorporating these food types to your diet goes a long way to support immunity and improve health.
The aim should be to focus on a super-diet overall, not just one superfood. That way, you can enjoy the benefits of all the nutrients.
When buying a superfood supplement, it’s best to purchase a quality product with a high content of nutrient. Also, buy products that are third-party tested to ensure safety.