What Are Superfoods? (And Why You Should Include Them In Your Diet)
Are there days when you wish for a superhero to come out and save us from this pandemic? Our eagerness to beat the world’s enemy to date sometimes drive us to have a healthier living.
But since there are too many options to choose from and information to believe in, it often leaves us confused and uncertain.
The truth is not all superheroes wear capes or hide in the contents of a medicine bottle; most of the time, they are just sitting on our plates.
You would’ve probably heard of and read about the word “superfoods” in television and magazines, but sometimes we can’t help wonder what makes them so “super” among other foods. And here’s why!
Touted as nutritional powerhouses, superfoods are foods that provide high amounts of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, healthy fats, and antioxidants to our body, making us look great, feel great, and live a longer, healthier life.
Each nutrient has a unique superpower that wards off illnesses and other certain chronic conditions. Antioxidants, one of the most beneficial nutrients in the human body, neutralize and protect us from the damage caused by free radicals—preventing us from having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Other nutrients like phytochemicals (a chemical naturally produced by plants) stimulate the immune system, decrease inflammation, and help slow down the growth of cancer cells in the body. Some may even aid us in weight loss and reduce the signs of aging.
All these amazing benefits would make us think that superfoods are a different kind of food group. But according to dieticians, there are no standard criteria in determining what’s a superfood and what’s not. One thing is for sure: most of them are plant-based.
With that said, all fruits and vegetables have the potential to become a superfood. It is just that some of them give double the nutrients and better health benefits than others. Hence, the “super” in superfood.
Superfoods are not as elusive as fictional superheroes. As mentioned before, most of them are served on the table, and we might not be completely aware that we’re actually consuming them! In fact, these superfoods can be sown and grown in your backyard or bought at the nearest grocery store.
Many foods have earned the title of “superfood”. But for now, let us give you five top plant-based superfoods that, we know, can be easily added to your daily healthy diet!
- Berries. Providing vitamins and a high level of flavonoids, berries may help lower the risk of heart attack and maintain normal blood sugar. Some of the superfood berries include acai berries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and goji berries.
- Dark green leafy vegetables. DGLVs like kale, swiss chard, turnip greens, and spinach contain high levels of carotenoids that may protect you against certain types of cancer and
eye degeneration. Their fiber and natural water content also help prevent constipation and other digestive problems.
- Avocado. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, which are good for the heart. They’re also rich in vitamins E and B6 that help promote red blood cell formation and skin health.
- Legumes. Packed with protein and other nutrients, the family of lentils, peas, and alfalfas helps reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. They promote healthy weight maintenance as well, giving you feelings of fullness.
- Green Tea. Green tea contains loads of antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds that guard you against chronic diseases like diabetes. Studies have also shown that catechins and caffeine in green tea may effectively support weight loss.
Of course, though they’re nutritious, keep in mind that consuming superfoods alone on a regular basis is still not a healthy diet. Our body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals to thrive, so it’s advisable that we mix or incorporate these superfoods into a well-balanced meal. After all, no one food is a medical cure-all.
Feel free to blend these food superheroes in your smoothie, toss them into your salad, or add to your soup, stew, and stir-fry recipes!