Superfoods: Are They Here to Save the Day?
Superfoods are foods — mostly plant-based — that are especially nutrient-dense and healthful. While it is true that the foods in this category are incredibly healthy, ‘superfood’ is not a scientific name, rather a marketing term.
Full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, superfoods pack a powerful nutritional punch in a minimal amount of calories. The nutrients they provide help to improve the functioning of every system and mechanism in the body. The antioxidants help to fight inflammation and disease, preventing many different types of health issues.
The problem is that many of the superfood products sold in health food stores and supermarkets are imported and have gone through preservation processes such as freezing, drying, and being made into powders. Each of these processes decreases the nutritional profile and affects bioavailability. The end result is sometimes a product that is no more nutritious than locally-grown produce, but a lot more expensive.
Some of them are still worth purchasing, though. The following popular superfoods can help you increase your daily nutrient intake.
Acai – Acai berries are known to have some of the highest antioxidant profiles of all foods. They have many health benefits for the brain, heart, gut, and overall health. Acai can be found in frozen form and blended into shakes or mixed into yogurt.
Spirulina – This ancient blue-green algae has more than 60 nutrients and is considered a complete protein. It is simply teeming with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to benefit all systems in the body. Spirulina can be found in tablet, capsule, powdered, or frozen form in health food stores or online.
Goji Berry – Another ancient superfood, this berry has been documented in ancient Chinese and Tibetan medicine books. They have been used for thousands of years to treat eye, liver, and kidney problems. They are usually found in their dried form and can be eaten plain, as part of trail mix, or added to yogurt, shakes and tea.
Chia Seeds – Don’t be fooled by their small size. These tiny black seeds are loaded with nutrients that provide long-lasting energy and strength. They were consumed by the Aztecs and Mayans for this very reason. Chia seeds are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, flavonoids, as well as essential vitamins and minerals. Chia can be added to almost anything, just keep in mind that they turn gel-like when added to liquid.
When buying superfoods, consider that they may be imported and that their nutritional profile may have been compromised as a result of preservation processes. Superfoods alone won’t boost your health, but when eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet, they are ideal natural health supplements.