Fifteen years ago, food was just that… food; it is what you used to feed your body when you felt hungry. If you wanted to eat something considered “healthy” you chose a fruit or vegetable as a snack or an addition to your meal. Now, all of a sudden, foods we had known for years have been placed on a list of extraordinary foods amongst other foods that we have never heard of. A new rank of “powerful” foods called Superfoods has been created and we cannot get enough of them. Superfoods are a category of foods that are also referred to as functional foods. They are labeled this way because of that particular food’s ability to aid your body in all of its functions; not just the basic needs.
Foods like Pomegranates, Chia Seeds and Goji Berries are in the vocabulary of more and more of the population and there is mass effort to start including these “Superhero” foods in as many meals as possible. Although we may not understand their health promoting super powers, we figure that with a name like Superfood, we better jump on the bandwagon and start to include them in our diet. However, even with the eagerness of the population to go out there and buy these foods, many still don’t know the difference between a Superfood and just plain old regular food that our parents and grandparents used to make us.
In order for you to ingest every nutrient needed in your body, you must consistently consume a variety of foods that are rich in nutrients. Superfoods have more nutrients per gram than commonly known fruits and vegetables. This means that these foods have more nutritional density or (more nutrition per bite), than you receive eating other food that would be considered healthy.
According to wisegeek.org, superfoods are rich in antioxidants (such as phytochemicals), which are special chemicals that have been noted to have disease-fighting properties. Antioxidants can reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer, reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, or in some other way contribute to a person being healthier by fighting free radicals coming into our bodies through food and the environment. When foods are high in these antioxidants, they may be eaten not only because they taste good, but because they are good for your health too.
What Qualifies a Food as a Superfood
In 2004 the term “superfood” was coined by Dr. Steven Pratt, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life. Because of the knowledge that he brought to light, much of what we knew about food began to change. Superfoods, also called a “functional food” have key elements that make the foods especially high in nutritional content.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, superfood are foods (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that are rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) and considered beneficial to a person’s health. It refers to the food’s ability to affect more target functions of the body than just those that aid basic survival. Health-benefit studies are currently being conducted regarding the benefits “Superfoods”. Currently the benefits of antioxidants within superfoods are known to help the fight disease more effectively and have been shown to shield human’s organs from cell damage caused by free radicals. Superfoods are known to have key nutritional elements such as:
Key Elements of Superfoods
|* Clean protein||* Antioxidants|
|* Vitamins||* Good fats|
|* Minerals||* Essential fatty acids|
|* Enzymes||* Amino acids|
Variety of Superfoods
|Common Superfoods||Exotic Superfoods|
|Cacao (raw chocolate)||Goji berries|
|Red grapes||Pumpkin seeds|
Some of these foods are easy to cut up and dip, which means they could be used as snacks (paired with your favorite dressing, hummus or nut butter), some you can stir-fry and add some savory sauces, and you can make it goal to include superfoods every time you make a salad, as part of the salad, dressing or toppings. To ensure daily optimal nutrition, aim to incorporate superfoods into every meal.