So we hear about superfoods all the time and if you’re not yet familiar with them, you probably have some questions. What makes a superfood different from a regular food? Why are they so good for us? What are the benefits to consuming more superfoods?
Let’s take a peek into the world of superfoods and why they are so good for us.
What are Superfoods?
Let’s start with the basics. A superfood is any food that has a high concentration of nutrients–such as vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats, and minerals. Common types of superfoods include vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds, and spices, to name a few.
These are foods that are packed with essential nutrients that our bodies need to function properly and survive. Essential nutrients are what our bodies cannot produce, but are critical in aiding basic functions and maintaining our bodily systems. These essential nutrients include vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids.
So in summary, superfoods are densely packed with all of the good things our bodies need.
Common Types of Superfoods
Berries and Fruits
So many berries and fruits are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. You can eat them on their own, mix them into a salad of healthy greens, or blend them into a superfood smoothie. Here are some common superfuits and superberries:
- Açaí berries
- Citrus fruits
- Goji berries
Nuts and Seeds
Super rich in protein and healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids, seeds and nuts are versatile and delicious superfoods. Mix them into your favorite trail mix, sprinkle into your veggie wraps, or blend into a powder to add to smoothies and baked goods. Here are some examples nuts and seeds with high nutritional value:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
Much like nuts and seeds, cold-water fish are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and protein. Be sure to purchase wild-caught fish, which are free from the risk factors associated with farm-raised fish. Here are the types of fish that will give you the healthy fats your body is craving:
Dark, leafy greens are packed with vitamins and minerals. Chlorophyll, the green pigment in plant leaves, is an anti-inflammatory which also helps to detoxify our bodies. Chlorophyll also helps to improve oxygen transport to the brain helping us to feel more awake, alert, and think more clearly. Here are some common superfood greens:
- Bok choy
What Makes Moringa a Superfood?
Moringa is abundant in antioxidants, vitamins, and essential amino acids. It helps to reduce inflammation due to it’s antioxidant properties, which include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium (found in cold-water fish, Brazil nuts, and eggs), flavonoids, and phenolics (common in many fruits and vegetables). Moringa is also a complete plant protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies crave.
Benefits of Consuming More Superfoods
1. Healthier Skin
Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids contribute to skin health by regulating inflammatory responses and by providing the nutrients crucial to repairing damaged skin cells. Inflammatory responses can lead to negative effects on the skin including adrenal gland dysfunction (which leads to acne breakouts), premature aging, and skin cancer. Many vitamins and antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory properties which contribute to happy, healthy skin. Treat yourself (and your skin) to a seafood dinner of wild-caught salmon, mackerel, or tuna at least once a week.
2. Improved Emotional Stability
In addition to affecting our physical health, our dietary choices affect our mental and emotional health as well. Eating foods that have little nutritional value, are high in sugar, or have been highly processed can cause us to experience depression and anxiety in addition to being more irritable and moody.
According to a study on the effects of antioxidants on depression and other mental health disorders, it was concluded that a higher intake of antioxidants from real food sources (i.e. not from dietary supplements) is linked to lower levels of depression. Since many antioxidant containing fruits, vegetables, and berries contain other beneficial elements such as fiber, folate, and macronutrients, it is important to be consuming nutrient-rich foods and not merely complementing a poor diet with nutritional supplements.
Consuming superfoods high in antioxidants is a great way to combat the damage of excess free radicals and oxidative stress. Free radicals and oxidative stress can contribute to many negative health side effects and diseases including kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Make sure to be consuming plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries, fruits, and leafy greens to reduce the effects of oxidative stress.
Staying hydrated by drinking water is also a simple, yet effective way to detoxify your body. Try infusing your water with your favorite superfood berries and fruit. Moringa tea is also a great way to stay hydrated while getting a vitamin and antioxidant boost.
4. Better focus and productivity
Leafy greens are great for focus and productivity because they contain chlorophyll, the pigment which gives plant leaves their green color. Chlorophyll helps to improve oxygen transport to the brain, which helps us to focus better on tasks at hand and be more attentive. This aspect is beneficial to learning and being more productive. So whether you are a student or engaged with a career (or dare I say, both?), consuming leafy greens on a daily basis is a must. Try combining leafy greens, berries, and nuts or seeds to make a superfood salad for lunch.
Antioxidant-rich foods reduce chronic inflammation, which has often been referred to as the “root of all disease”. Inflammation it has been linked to the development of heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer, and respiratory issues such as asthma and bronchitis. Reduce inflammation by staying hydrated and consuming colorful fruits, dark berries, and leafy greens.
Foods high in healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and also regulate blood pressure. Make sure your meals or snacks have some sort of healthy fat from seeds, nuts, or wild-caught fish.
What are your favorite superfoods? Let us know in the comments.