What actually are Superfoods?
When we mention the term “Superfoods” it is not uncommon for there to be a sense of confusion among most people. This is not really surprising either. While consuming nutrient dense foods is an ancient practice, the concept is basically lost in our fast-paced and convenience focused culture. Only recently has there been mainstream attention and research towards the importance of introducing this kind of nutrition back into the human diet.
The term “Superfood” refers to any nutrient-dense food that is widely considered to be beneficial towards our health and overall well-being. The term is a relatively new one, having only generated popularity in the last 20 years or so. However, the idea is simple. Foods that have a wide-ranging nutritional profile that includes; micro & macro-nutrients, phytochemicals, phytopigments, antioxidants, vitamin and trace minerals.
Most “superfoods” are plant based covering everything from fruits, vegetables, sea-vegetables, grains, nuts, grasses and herbs. There are even many all-in-one type of green superfood supplement powders. There are also some superfoods that are derived from fish as well. While most “superfood” products will have different ingredients and ratios of such, for the most part they will typically include all the same stuff.
What can Green Superfoods do for you?
There are so many benefits from regularly consuming foods considered to be “superfoods”. Whether you are consuming a green drink in the morning, or eating dense salads at lunch, or ending your day with a chia-seed pudding. By including any, or all of these foods into your diet most people will agree that you will see and feel great results.
The increase in foods rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene will add great regenerative and overall health benefits to your body. This plays an important role regardless if you are a young child, an athlete, a middle-aged parent, or an old timer. The ability to fight off illness and increase recovery time is crucial to living longer, and staying healthy and fit along the way.
“Superfoods” can offer a host of essential vitamins and minerals like B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. There are ingredients that are otherwise quite uncommon in a typical diet today. On average most Americans are lacking in essential vitamins and minerals that help our body maintain itself, and the vitamins we do take are usually in the form of capsules or sugary pills that do not always absorb into the body sufficiently to have an impact.
Greens, which make up the majority of the “superfood” category, are extremely important to the body. Not only do they provide fiber, but they are also alkaline forming. By maintaining a balanced ph level in the body, research has shown that it will help prevent the formation of many health related issues, including cancer.
Why should you include Superfoods in your diet?
So it is pretty clear that “superfoods” are pretty remarkable in their ability to help maintain a healthy and active body. But how exactly does that affect the average person? When it comes to healthy living I believe there are three kinds of people.
- The first are those that understand the mental & physical aspect of being and staying active. These people are athletes of all shapes and sizes, and are usually muscular and spend lots of time engaged in their sport. However, they typically do not put much consideration into their nutrition.
- The second category, on the other end of the spectrum, are people that understand the importance of nutrition and healthy eating. Yet, these people are often lean to skinny, and do not engage in regular physical fitness.
- Then in the middle is the sweet spot, the area we should all aim towards. These people understand that to be truly healthy and balanced there must be a mutual understanding about the role that healthy nutrition plays along with staying mentally and physically engaged.
Based on the Dietary Reference Intakes recommended by the National Academies of Science’ Food and Nutrition Board, the average person should be consuming at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to help maintain optimal health and wellness and most importantly balance in the diet. However, the average American diet does not include this. Chances are you have ignored the idea of including nutrient-dense foods into your diet, or are just plain unaware of it. Well, that stops today! We are all lacking in something or another when it comes to nutrition…..so do yourself, your body, your family and your future a favor and start working these “superfoods” into your diet today.
The Top 5:
There are debates among dietitians, nutritionists, doctors and fitness professionals about whether or not certain foods that are marketed as “superfoods” are in fact such. There is agreement about foods that cover a wide spectrum of nutrition, rather than just two or three benefits, as being true “superfoods.”
For example, blueberries are amazing source vitamin k, vitamin c and manganese, yet that hardly makes them dense with nutrients. However, a dark leafy green like spinach is truly nutrient dense, loaded with so many health-giving benefits. While the term “superfood” does include a whole host of ingredients, for the purposes of this article we have narrowed our Top 5 to include those that are truly wide-ranging in their nutrient density.
Due to the fact that it is so widely under used by most, yet it could be of major significance if taken. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows world wide in fresh water systems, out in the bright sunshine and typically without any other organisms growing near it. It is most commonly consumed in it’s dried version, being mixed with liquid. Often times it is the main ingredient in a green superfood powder mix.
The list of benefits goes on and on; detoxing heavy metals, eliminates candida, helps fight cancer, lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, lowers chances of stroke, boosts e
nergy, supports maintain a healthy weight, reduces sinus issues. As you can see, the list of reported benefits is astounding. However, when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Sea Vegetables are extremely popular in Asian countries like, Japan. Which, coincidentally or not, has lower reports of cancer and terminal illness than America.
- Wheatgrass/Barley Grass
While you will see benefits from including one or the other into your diet, it would be of significant benefit to include Wheatgrass and Barley Grass together. Typically, you will find this in the form of fresh ground juice at your local juice bar. More likely, you will also see it in a dried and powdered form in your green superfood powder. This power play of ingredients will provide you with potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, manganese zinc, beta carotene, Vitamins B1, 2, & 6, Vitamin C, folic acid and pantothenic acid. Not only that, you are receiving these in very high and absorbable amounts.
The 3rd spot could also just say, “Any Dark Leafy Greens”, and it would also do the trick. However, due to its popularity and it being a versatile ingredient, we will focus our attention on kale. Kale has been grown for a millennia, being used as both a medicine and a food. Among it’s dark, leafy green cousins it is the best for anti-inflamation. It alsocontains, Vitamins A, B & C, Calcium, iron, chlorophyll the antioxidants lutein & zeaxanthin, it is a great source of fiber. Kale is also surprisingly full of essential fatty acids, and 9 essential amino acids. Both research and personal experiences have come to find that Kale can be of benefit to our stomachs, livers, bladders, lowering our cholesterol, and improving the overall immune system.
Almonds must be raw in order for them to be effective, but they are very effective. They contain lots of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, these are known as good fats that will lead to good cholesterol levels. They are also a great source of
Almonds in particular are rich in phytochemicals, plant components that promote heart and vascular health. They’re a great source of Vitamin E, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Phosphorous, Protein, Fiber, and Calcium. In fact, it is said that it can provide more calcium than cow’s milk.
These are another great source of healthy, or good, fats. Which just so happens to be an area the American diet can improve on. Additionally, Avocado can provide about 20 essential health-giving nutrients, making it a truly dense “superfood”. They contain lots of fiber, and more than two times the amount of Potassium found in banana, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamins B6 & B5, Vitamin C, Folate and Folic Acid. Avocados have also been shown to help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients.
While the ingredients that made our Top 5 superfoods of 2016 are some of the most beneficial and well-rounded, there are still so many “Superfoods” out there. Some ingredients are just less common and hard to acquire. And some ingredients are still newly understood. The possibilities and the wealth of health-giving benefits are massive. So if you want to make an impact on your personal nutrition, or hit that personal weight goal, or improving your performance; then you had seriously consider adding these “superfoods” into your diet.