We’ve all heard the term and probably at one point or another bought into the clever ploys and tried one. But that’s the thing, they are just marketing ploys! Nutritionally speaking, there is actually no such thing as a superfood. The term was made up purely for marketing purposes and to influence food trends that would sell products, mainly supplements.
Generally though the superfood description is applied to nutrient-rich foods and supplements that are supposed to have a large positive impact on health.
From this description, and without wanting to sell you a product, there are a huge array of foods could be described as super, it’s just important to understand that there is no single food that holds the key to good health or disease prevention. Don’t buy into that, they just want your money!
But since the term ‘superfood’ doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, here’s a closer look at some healthy options that are pretty super.
1) Dark leafy greens!
Dark leafy green vegetables are an excellent source of folate, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C and fibre.
If consumed regularly they have the potential to reduce your risk of chronic illnesses including heart disease and type 2 diabetes They also contain high levels of anti-inflammatory compounds known as carotenoids, which are thought to protect against certain types of cancer
The most well known dark leafy greens are Kale, Spinach and Turnip greens. Also well known is the fact that these do not taste great on their own. To counter this we recommend getting creative with them! Add them to your soups, salads, stir fries and curries for the added benefits without the bitter taste.
Really tasty and a nutritional powerhouse? Winner!
Berries are really rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. The antioxidant capacity of berries is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory conditions.
Berries are also recommended to be used in conjunction with traditional medicine for various digestive and immune-related disorders.
Some of our favourite berries include: Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries and Blackberries. We recommend enjoying them sprinkled on top of protein pancakes or added into a smoothie although these berries are versatile and can be added into almost anything!
3) Green Tea!
This lightly caffeinated beverage is one of the most heavily marketed ’superfoods’ aimed primarily at weight loss goals. But aside from the marketed weight loss products green tea does actually have some beneficial medicinal properties.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds that have strong anti-inflammatory effects. One of the most prevalent antioxidants in green tea is the catechin epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. Studies suggest that EGCG is what gives green tea its ability to protect against chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
It’s the EGCG, catechins and caffeine in green tea that may make it a weight loss tool in some people but these results are quite varied!
However, you don’t need to go out and buy those expensive extracts, enjoying a normal cup of green tea can offer the above health benefits and some also report it having a calming effect and aiding digestion.
Eggs are a controversial topic in a nutrition context because of their cholesterol content, but for us they still remain as one of the healthiest and most beneficial foods.
Eggs are rich in B vitamins, choline, selenium, Vitamin A, Iron and phosphorus as well as protein but you don’t need us to tell you that last fact.
Less commonly known however is the benefit eggs have on your eyesight. Containing powerful antioxidants, zeaxanthun and lutein, eggs can contribute to the protection of vision and eye health.
Common fears concerning egg consumption is the aforementioned high cholesterol content but research has indicated no measurable increase in heart diseased from eating up to 12 eggs a week. In fact eating eggs could increase the ‘good’ cholestorols in some people, reducing their risk of heart disease.
So, stay below that 12 egg mark! But who eats that many eggs a week anyway!?
Legumes, or pulses, are a type of plant foods made up of beans, lentils, peas and peanuts.
They earn the ‘super’ label because they’re loaded with nutrients and research suggests they can play a role in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol as well as improved managing of type 2 diabetes.
Legumes are a rich source of B vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre all with their own nutritional benefits.
Eating beans and legumes regularly may also promote healthy weight maintenance, due to their ability to improve feelings of fullness.
Garlic is a plant food that is closely related to onions, leeks and shallots. It’s a good source of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium and fibre.
Garlic is a very popular culinary ingredient due to its distinct and in our opinion delicious flavor, but it has also been used for its medicinal benefits for centuries.
Research indicates that garlic may be effective in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as supporting immune function. What’s more, sulfur-containing compounds in garlic may even play a role in preventing certain types of cancer.
Like we needed any more encouragement to add more garlic to our cooking!
To conclude, achieving optimal health through food and nutrition is about more than focusing on one or two of the latest food trends. You don’t have to go out and buy the latest fad food or miracle superfood extract supplement. Instead, good health is best supported by eating a variety of nutritious foods every day. Including some, or all, of the foods on this list as part of a balanced diet can benefit your overall health and may prevent certain chronic diseases.