Superfoods: What are they? Are they worth the title?

December 13, 2021

Food is a matchless nutritional source for our body, and, without it, it is complicated to imagine our body operating its functions. Yet, nutrition is just one of the reasons we eat every day.

The other most common reasons we eat are satisfaction and pleasure, and that’s where the danger resides. Usually, when we eat for those reasons, we ingest too many carbohydrates and fats from junk food, which we usually think of as “delicious food”, and, of course, it’s a horrible habit for our general health status.

Superfoods can be excellent for both nutrition and satisfaction, as many of them taste great as well as they are nutritionally dense.
We only need to be careful not to fall for misleading advertisements as there are no set criteria to officially consider certain food as “super”.

Then, in addition to explaining the concept and its benefits, we will also cover examples of superfoods that can improve your physical conditioning and body functions and prevent long-term illnesses.

What is “Superfood” exactly?

Mostly plant-based – but also some fish and dairy -, superfoods are nutritionally dense food that provides low (or relatively low) amounts of calories. Thus, being considered excellent sources of nutrients and a great way to improve your general health condition.

“You are what you eat.”

Amongst the nutrients superfoods contain, we find a high volume of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Besides helping you keep a stable amount of fat in the body and boosting your immune system, these nutrients can also prevent heart diseases, cancer, arthritis, and many other diseases that tend to show up as we get older.

However, there is no scientific or political set definition to describe superfood, which means marketers can try to explore the term to sell new products with a promise they will change your life. Keep an eye on it and always research if the food you’re buying contains relevant amounts of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, and is low in calories.

Finally, keep yourself updated and well informed about ways to boost your immune system and general health with health specialists.

Benefits of eating Superfood

Again, superfoods contain high values of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Then, fair enough, we’ll be covering what these nutrients can add to your daily (and long-term) life so you can understand exactly why you should add certain superfoods to your diet.

Antioxidants

Let’s start with a simple and objective conversation.

Vitamin C, vitamin E, Selenium, and beta-carotene are antioxidants, and they are mostly found in plants. Our body also produces antioxidants, but our focus here is the nutrients we ingest, so it’s best if we leave them for another time.

The antioxidants present in our bodies work together to fight against “free radicals”. These free radicals are, in fact, uneven oxygen-containing molecules. They are unstable in their electron-number and they end up causing negative reactions in our bodies, which we call “oxidation”.

Oxidation can cause diabetes, arthritis, cancer, inflammatory conditions, heart diseases, and blood pressure, among others.
Ingesting high amounts of antioxidants will help your body hold on and win more fights against free radicals and will considerably reduce your chances to suffer from these conditions at some point in life.

Unfortunately, free radicals are just one cause of these diseases.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins are organic nutrients, and minerals are non-organic nutrients. Both are good for our body health, as we studied so many times at school.

They can be ingested by so many different foods, and yet it’s a complicated task not to miss any of them. It’s due to the fact most foods contain the same nutrients in different amounts, and some of them are rare to find. That is the case with Omegas, for example.

That is also the reason why we should keep a balanced diet, with multiple vegetables, meats, grains, and seeds.

From A to K, vitamin and mineral deficiency can cause serious diseases and conditions. We’re not covering any specific here, since you’ve probably heard at some point of your life the risks of poor eating habits.

Just keep in mind you should raise the variety on your plate and try new food and ingredients, especially superfood.

Examples of Superfoods

Berries

Not all of them, of course. Three names have been immensely studied: cranberries, blueberries, and strawberries. 

Rich in vitamins, soluble fibers, and phytochemicals, ingesting them may reduce the risk of heart conditions, especially in young women.

Loaded with antioxidants, they have been even studied as a way to reduce blood sugar levels.

Dark Leafy Greens

Kale, collard greens, mustards, arugula, spinach, cabbages, and broccoli: These leafy greens are loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber, calcium, carotenoids, and other minerals.

Research has found that some substances in dark leafy greens can stop cancer’s growth, a fact that makes them one of the most frequent vegetables on superfood tier lists.

Sweet Potatoes and Squashes

Even potatoes could make their space in a superfood list if it wasn’t for their excessive carbohydrate amounts. Since they are not commonly indicated for those who are on a diet – especially when fried –, let’s just mention the sweet potatoes and squashes here.

Loaded with fibers, vitamins A, B, C, and E, and some minerals such as manganese, they’re probably the most accessible superfood.

They can enhance brain function and help the intestine work properly.  

Salmon

Salmons are rich in a type of polyunsaturated fat, called omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential to include in a diet since the body can’t produce them naturally. Omegas contribute to keeping a heart healthy as no other oil could.

Besides heart diseases, it’s been studied that oily fish consumption may protect us from some cancers and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Grapes

Packed with vitamin C and K, Copper and Potassium, anti-oxidants, and really low-carb, grapes are one of the best fruits for those wishing to live longer healthily.

Grapes help reduce the chances of heart attacks, decrease blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, improve memory and attention, and impact bone health as well.

How to distinguish Superfoods from others?

Just because some claimed superfoods are not inserted in this list, it doesn’t mean they are fakey or not as nutritive as the items mentioned here. 

We managed to include on this list 99,99% trustable healthy food that commits to the requirements of a superfood:

Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and also low-fat and low-carb.

However, we know that academic studies may take a long time to confirm pieces of evidence, and if you keep waiting for researches to prove certain foods offer multiple benefits to human health, you might lose great opportunities to increase your health condition.

The intention behind this article was to introduce this term that is often used in nutrition posts, videos, and conversations; teach you a bit of how some nutrients work and why they are important; help you learn what is necessary to be considered healthy in probably 99,99% of situations, for any people; and also to think with criticism in your decisions, as well as look for academic research before adding something to your diet just because you saw on TV that certain food can improve your immune system 300% within a month, for example.

If you get to hear of a superfood absent in this list, look for what researchers have to say about them.

And if you want to get healthier 100% naturally, keep an eye on our blog more often because that’s exactly what we’re trying to help our readers reach.