I’m pretty sure my first reaction to initially hearing the word superfood was something along the lines of: “Um, excuse me, my expanding waist size is here to tell you that all food is super.” I had never heard of such a thing before in my life. Now, you see the term everywhere. I figured maybe we should explore it a little further.
So what is a “superfood”?
Superfoods are defined as those foods that are basically powerhouses full of nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols, and minerals. They are foods that have noted health benefit properties and have the potential to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses and while improving your well-being. We’re talking cancer prevention, weight loss, improved immune system, brain health, the whole 9-yards.
We tend to say, “You are what you eat”, right?! Well, I think that is absolutely correct. That saying holds so true. When I eat a bunch of fatty or sugary foods, I feel awful and am just cranky. Period. I may have an initial spike of energy, but I often feel physically ill and completely drug down afterward. When I choose more nutrient-packed foods, I tend to feel lighter and more mentally clear. So, if we add in these powerhouse foods, it makes enough sense that we would benefit physically and otherwise. So, when I was trying to put a definition to this newly emerged term, superfood, I realized I already eat quite a few of these, and thought I would share a few of my favorite nutritious edibles.
“The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”-Ann Wigmore
- Broccoli – This is probably my favorite veggie, and good news is, it’s so stinking healthy. This green beauty is full of carotenoids, which assist your body in kicking out those harmful compounds. It also contains sulphorafane, which fights against cancer-causing chemicals by flushing them out of the body. Some other benefits: increased heart heath, potential increase in cognitive functioning, improved digestive health, reduction of tumor growth, and weight management.
- Salmon – Not only is this upstream swimmer a good protein source, but it is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain function & have a numerous amount of benefits. Salmon also has anti-inflammatory properties, can improve mood, decrease risk of visual complications such as macular degeneration, and decreased risk of cardiac issues such as heart attack or stroke.
- Coconut Oil – I absolutely love coconut oil and regularly recommend it as it is so diverse in it’s uses and benefits. You can ingest it, cook with it, put it on your skin, in your hair, and the list goes on. One of my favorite details about coconut oil is that it contains lauric acid, which is great at improving immune function and fighting against bacteria and infection. It also is great for skin hydration, healthy hair, digestive and heart health, improved energy, reduction of hunger, and it makes for mean moist brownies.
- Kale – My favorite leafy green probably has to be this fluffy fella here. I had never tried it until a few years ago and definitely see that I was missing out. This one food has benefits that span the entire body. It’s high levels of Vitamin C are great at boosting collagen and improving skin elasticity, the Vitamin A promotes cell growth, the Omega-3’s improve cognition and brain health, and the carotenoid levels improve heart health. It may also reduce bloating and improve hair growth..sounds like a win to me. And for those who are overweight, kale’s high levels of antioxidants help to fight off inflammatory diseases, including obesity.
- Apple – I mentioned in 12 Choices For Healthy Snacking how apples were a great snack. Who would have thought an apple could reduce your waist line? Well, it can. Apples are great low-calorie fruits that contain antioxidants that can help reduce the chance of metabolic issues. We all know a good metabolism is the key to burning those extra pounds. They contain pectin which helps to reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs and contain fiber to promote digestive health. Studies show that having an apple daily may reduce the risk of diabetes in women. They are also known to protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well as possibly shielding against cancer.
- Pomegranates – I turned my husband on to these a few years ago. The only problem he has with them, is that he can’t get them year-round. Pomegranate seeds are great low-calorie snacks that can soothe a sweet tooth. They are high in fiber to help with that digestive tract & keep things running smoothly. They also have disease-fighting antioxidants, improve blood flow for cardiovascular health, slow the growth of prostate cancer, and reduce that bad cholesterol that gets us in trouble.
- Pineapples – Not only do you want to “be a pineapple”, you may want to also try eating them. They contain bromelain, great water content, Vitamin C, and fiber, all assisting with digestive health. They also increase immune function, reduce free radicals in the body, lower cholesterol levels in the body, and (as mentioned in 10 Foods to Fight Inflammation) are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
- Garlic – By far probably my favorite flavor in the world, so it is a staple around my house. Garlic salt, garlic powder, dried minced, fresh minced, whole cloves…you name it, I have it. Garlic is widely used as a supplement for heart health and improvement of blood circulation. It also is recognized by the National Cancer Institute for reducing the risk of developing certain kinds of cancer. Garlic also has great antibacterial and antioxidant properties, may reduce risk of common cold, improve psoriasis, cold sores, and acne, and help with weight management.
- Parsley – Turns out, that decorative little leafy garnish on your dinner plate has a purpose. Parsley contains vitamins, minerals, and chlorophyll. It promotes heart health by reducing your risk of heart attack by protecting the blood vessels. Parsley can also improve immunity, quicken wound healing, promote urinary health, reduce bloating due to diuretic effects, and much more. So much more than a final touch to a dish.
- Sweet Potatoes – Although they are not a favorite of mine, my youngest son used to think the world revolved around these bright-colored beauties. He literally started looking a little orange from eating them so much. Therefore, I though they deserved a spot on the list. They are high in Vitamin A & Vitamin C as well as beta-carotein. They serve as an anti-inflammatory, immune health booster, wound healing promoter, powerhouse of antioxidants that help fight against diseases such as cancer. They regulate glucose levels in the blood, improve brain and nerve function, and even have anti-fungal properties.
So, what is the definition of “superfood”?? It is just a new & snazzy name for those foods that we need to make sure we include in our diet because they are too good to pass up. Those foods that can serve as medicine for our bodies and heal us of our illness. The foods that were once eaten regularly, however due to the convenience of junk food or fast food, we have neglected to continue to eat as much as we once did. The foods that had to be given a new catchphrase just to get people to remember that they are important. While each site you explore will give you a different list of what these may be, just know that you are what you eat. Wouldn’t you rather fill your body with nutrients that support your holistic health than junk that serves no purpose?