Superfoods are becoming very popular because of their nutritional density and benefits for one’s health. The criteria for the superfoods is not rigidly defined but experts agree that they must be low in calories and rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and polyphenols.
Superfoods should fight threatening free radicals, a form of oxygen molecule supposed to be a contributing factor in triggering numerous diseases including cancer and diabetes, and superfoods should also contribute to reducing the aging process. They should also aid in weight loss, improve hair and skin appearance, increase the energy levels and reduce the chronic illnesses and digestive problems.
It is essential to read the ingredient labels of proclaimed superfoods in order to understand what you are buying. Anything marked as a superfood should be natural. The British Dietetic Association’s survey showed that over 60 percent of the people questioned purchased particular food because they were labelled as superfoods.
So, if you are wondering why many people are adding chia seeds to their breakfast recipes or you just want to know foods that can help fight wrinkles, here are some of the foods you should eat and the reasons behind their ‘superfood’ status:
Blueberries are nutritional superstar rich in minerals, vitamins, and fibre. They have a high antioxidant properties which protect us against the free radicals which can result in heart conditions and cancer. Studies suggest that they may even help in memory problems.
This superfood contains just 33 calories in every 100g of an uncooked portion. Kale also contains a considerable amount of vitamins C, A, and K and is extremely rich in the minerals and fibre needed which are essential for keeping your liver healthy. Kale provides a greater quantity of antioxidants compared to other fruits and vegetables.
Chia seeds are rich in omega three fats which help in reducing levels of LDL and triglycerides, the fat in the blood associated with heart disease. They also contain minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium which gives them antioxidant properties.
This grain-like seed is low in calories and a contains a significant amount of fibre, proteins, vitamin C and minerals including zinc and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free which makes it a great alternative to grains or wheat and they are claimed to help in the prevention of medical conditions for example heart disease, diabetes, and coeliac diseases.
These are relatively inexpensive superfoods that are rich in proteins and nutrients. One egg has about 70 calories and six grams of protein. They are also a source of omega 3 fats which are necessary to maintain heart health and normal body function.
Avocados are rich in fibre, vitamin C, potassium and monounsaturated fats that help in controlling diabetes and cholesterol. They also help in the aging process and are very effective in the fight against wrinkles.
And if you needed an excuse for the odd treat, it is encouraging to know that chocolate is very beneficial for us! Research has shown that chocolate contains polyphenols and antioxidants which are essential in protecting our bodies against heart conditions and cancer.
Watermelon is a superfood that is low calories and rich in vitamins A, and C. Studies shows that watermelon can potentially reduce cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure. They also have minerals that help in protecting our skin from UV rays.
An old favourite in Chinese medicine, goji berries contain vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin A, iron and selenium. Goji berries have been credited with reducing the risk of cancer as well as increasing brain activity, digestion and general wellbeing.
Can Superfoods Really Make you Stronger, Smarter or Slimmer?
It is worth noting that any scientific research into the benefits of foods deemed superfoods are carried out in quantities far greater than we would naturally consume. Studies on doses of 28 cloves of garlic show the presence of a possible nutrient that may be an aid in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol yet there are not many of us that would actually eat 28 cloves of garlic a day.
Furthermore, a review carried out in 2011 on the scientific evidence of antioxidant action on free radicals proved inconclusive, stating that there was no evidence of benefit to human health.
So, Superfoods: Yes or No?
The natural foods that are currently raised upon the pedestal of superfood status are usually low in fat, high in vitamins and minerals and great for your body overall when consumed as part of a balanced diet. And that is the crux of the matter.
No amount of gobbling goji berries or drinking down avocado and kale smoothies will undo generally unhealthy eating habits that you otherwise live by. The occasional ‘superfood’ on the odd day cannot perform a miracle repair of your body, skin, hair and mind that a usually poor lifestyle has created over days, months or even years.
So, by all means, go for the healthier options when it comes to eating for your health and fitness, but do not expect miracles to happen overnight even with the latest ‘superfoods’.
There are no short cuts when it comes to your health. Only a lifestyle change incorporating clean living, healthy eating and regular activity can do that – and that will take time.