WHAT'S SO "SUPER" ABOUT SUPERFOODS?
Updated: Jan 11, 2019
"Superfood", a recent well known word that has made its way into the mainstream English language, is defined as a “nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” Some superfoods include kale, spinach, spirulina, blueberries, acai berries, quinoa, almonds, hemp seeds, avocado, etc…” Superfoods therefore provide nutrients in the most natural, unprocessed way which is very close to the human body so we can easily take the nutrients for our own needs. They’re also all packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential polysacchari
des, enzymes and essential fatty acids. They provide nutrients important for one’s skin, hair, nails and brain, have a positive impact on the digestive system, nervous system, blood system and most importantly immune system. They also help with detoxification and acid-base balance of body. Or easily said, they’re pretty super. Including superfoods in your diet will not only make you feel better, but will give you more energy to power you through your day. Let's break down the benefits of a few common and accessible superfoods and how you can include them into your diet.
This vibrant fruit may be small, but each serving packs a serious punch when it comes to nutrition. Blueberries are often overlooked and overshadowed by more exotic types of berries, but blueberries still remain one of the most nutritious, antioxidant-rich types of fruit in the world and have been shown to do everything from enhancing brain health to keeping your heart strong. Also, new research has shown that blueberries may improve attention and cognitive functions. For example, after performing a double-blind study, it was found that people who consumed blueberry powder performed significantly better on multiple tests than people that did not eat the powder. Also, a study in 2012 of 93,000 women found that participants who ate three or more portions of blueberries a week had a 32% lower risk of a heart attack compared with those who ate blueberries once a month or less. Blueberries are delicious berries that can be added to anything for a nutrient-dense kick. Try adding blueberries to your cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, salads, or right out of the package for a quick and tasty snack or dessert.
Spirulina is a natural “algae” (cyanobacteria) powder that is incredibly high in protein, amino acids, complex minerals and a good source of antioxidants, B-vitamins and other nutrients. When harvested correctly, it is one of the most potent nutrient sources available. It is largely made up of protein and essential amino acids, and is typically recommended to vegetarians and vegans due to its high natural iron content. The high concentration of protein and iron also makes it ideal during pregnancy, after surgery, or anytime the immune system needs a boost. The concentration of protein and vitamins in spirulina has led many to classify it as the “most nutrient dense food on the planet.” Spirulina is very high in vitamin B1, also called Thiamin, this vitamin is necessary for the digestion of fats and proteins. It is often taken for increased energy, eye health, brain function and for improving nerve functioning. To add on, if you have low calcium levels, and are looking for a way to incorporate more plant-based derived calcium sources, spirulina is a great choice for it has over 26 times the amount of calcium in milk. In just one tablespoon of spirulina, it contains vitamins B-1(thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3(nicotinamide), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-9 (folic acid), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin E. It is also a source of potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, natural sodium and zinc. Try adding spirulina into your smoothies, baked treats, energy balls, oatmeal, juices, or just mixed in with some water or your favorite juice.
When it comes to trendy foods, nothing beats the good old avocado. Even though this fruit is incredibly nutritious, and is also known as one of the world's top five superfoods, and is extremely delicious. Whether you are spreading it on toast, tossing it into a smoothie, chopping it up for a salad, or just eating it directly out of the peel, this underrated superfood is very versatile, and will give your body some amazing benefits. First, avocado’s are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats called oleic acid, which has been shown to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and protect against various cancers. They’re also loaded with nutrients like vitamins K and C, and even have more potassium than a banana. Long story short, you need more avocados in your life. But if you needed more convincing, check out these five ways avocados are incredibly amazing for your health.
1. An entire avocado contains 10 grams of fiber which is amazing for your digestive system, and can also lower blood sugar, cut down bad cholesterol, and may even prevent colon cancer. Ounce for ounce, avocado’s top the charts among all fruits for folate, potassium, vitamin E and magnesium as well.
Skin, Hair, and Nails:
2. Avocado is super hydrating and packed with nutrients like vitamin E, protein, and magnesium, to leave your skin and hair at their best.
3. Avocados lower low-density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol, aka "bad" cholesterol, while raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, aka the good stuff, which is great for your heart, and protecting yourself from heart disease.
4. One small avocado contains-
53% Vitamin K, 41% Folate, 33% Vitamin C, 28% Pantothenic Acid, 28% Potassium, 26% Vitamin B6, 21% Vitamin E, 19% Copper, making it one of the most nutrient dense foods in the world.
Improves Nutrient Absorption:
5. When it comes to vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, it doesn’t matter how much we eat. It really doesn’t! What matters is how much we absorb. Some nutrients are fat soluble, meaning they need to be combined with fat in order for our bodies to assimilate them. Examples of fat-soluble nutrients include Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K, along with certain antioxidants. Adding half an avocado to a salad of spinach, lettuce and carrots saw participants absorb the antioxidants alpha-carotene 8.3 times, beta-carotene 13.6 times and lutein 4.3 times better than those who ate the salad without avocado.
To conclude, try adding avocado into your diet more frequently, either by blending it into a smoothie, spreading it in place of mayo on a sandwich, making guacamole out of it, or by chopping it up to toss into salads, the possibilities are truly endless!
Almonds have been prized since ancient times as one of humankind’s most beloved nuts. They were popular in the diets of ancient Egyptians and Indian populations. Ancient Indian Ayurvedic practitioners even believed that almonds were capable of increasing brain capacity, intellectual ability and longevity, and this has now scientifically been proven to be true. Today, the positive benefits of almonds have been praised all around the world, as this tiny nut has been incorporated in many different ways. For example, as the base ingredient in almond butter, almond milk, almond flour, or eaten raw as a healthy snack. Cholesterol reduction is the most celebrated health benefit of almonds, but there are many other vital health benefits of almonds nutrition. Almonds are low in saturated fatty acids, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, and contain filling fiber, unique and protective phytosterol antioxidants as well as plant protein. Also, just ¼ cup of almonds nutrition wise provides about:
6 grams of protein
5 grams fiber
7 grams of carbohydrates
4 grams of sugar
16 milligrams vitamin E (61 percent DV)
0.4 milligrams riboflavin (44 percent DV)
0.8 milligrams manganese (44 percent DV)
97 milligrams magnesium (36 percent DV)
172 milligrams phosphorus (29 percent DV)
96 milligrams calcium (9.5 percent DV)
33 milligrams iron (4 percent DV)
Additionally, almonds can help to prevent heart disease and heart attacks as well as to help prevent damage from forming within artery walls and protect against dangerous plaque buildup. Almonds nutrition benefits also make them a great food to support healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, in addition to fighting weight gain and obesity — three of the biggest risk factors associated with heart attacks and stroke. As well as supporting healthy brain functions, maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails, controlling blood sugar levels to prevent diabetes, and increasing nutrient absorption, almonds should definitely be included in your daily diet for optimal health. Enjoy almonds on top of oatmeal, as almond butter on toast, in salads, soups, cereal, blended into a smoothie, or try roasting them with your favorite sweet or salty spices as a nutritious and filling snack.
These tiny seeds are extremely super, and are jammed packed with nutrients to fuel your body with the essential energy it needs. These seeds definitely supersede in terms of nutrition. Hemp seeds are filled with essential fatty acids and protein. And don’t forget about the vitamins and minerals, too — hemp seeds are a great source of magnesium, zinc, and iron, and also offers some potassium phosphorus, and calcium, which are all necessary for normal body function and development. Hemp seeds also contain both GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). GLA is a fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. CLA is a building block of cell membranes. Hemp seeds also offer more protein than flax or chia, and more omega 3’s than a piece of salmon. They also offer a naturally balanced 1:3 ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) which are are responsible for strengthening your immune system. Additionally, there are 8 amino acids the human body cannot make and 2 more the body cannot make in sufficient quantity. Hemp seeds offer all these essential amino acids in its seed in addition to offering 17g of fiber per serving. Long story short, hemp seeds are incredibly nutritious as well as delicious, and you can incorporate them in your diet in a variety of ways. For example, add them to your oatmeal, cereal, salads, toast, smoothies, or blended into a creamy sauce. Also, just like you can blend almonds and water to make almond milk, you can do the same with hemp seeds to create hemp seed milk, which you can use as an alternative to dairy milk in drinks and recipes. Hemp seeds are cheap, nutritious, delicious, and so versatile, so it would be a crime to not include them in your diet!
In conclusion, all different types of superfoods can give your diet a healthy boost, while reducing your risk of heart disease, cancer, memory loss, and other world-wide health problems. These foods pack a big nutritional punch. They’re strong sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. They’re often high in phytonutrients and antioxidants too, which may help prevent cancer and other chronic illnesses. Indulge your palate and expand your diet to include superfoods in your daily menu. Comment below what your favorite superfood is, and how you incorporate it into your daily diet!