Are your foods superfoods?
What exactly are superfoods?
Can superfoods really have a demonstrably positive effect on your diet and health? Is it worth your time to make sure your foods are “super”?
There is no official or scientific definition of the term “superfood”, however, in general superfoods are described as foods with high nutritional content or phytochemical content. We all know the importance of the nutrients in our foods, but many don’t know the power of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants (often responsible for color and smell of plants) that may have biological significance but are not established as essential to nutrition. Food scientists estimate that there may be as many as 10,000 different phytochemicals having the potential to abate the risk of diseases (such as cancer, stroke, or metabolic syndrome).
Superfoods are also characterized by having little to no properties that are negative. For example, the superfood broccoli wouldn’t be as super for you if it also contained 16 grams of saturated fat, artificial ingredients, food additives, or contaminants. While your body needs a small amount of fats and oils, you often get enough of those through your regular diet so eliminating them as much as possible in other parts of your diet, like through regularly eating superfoods, is ideal.
Let’s look at some of the most common superfoods and what makes them so super:
Beans – High in fiber, antioxidants, protein, comparable calories to meat
Blueberries – Packed with antioxidants, phytochemicals, high in potassium and vitamin C
Broccoli – Antioxidant rich, low calorie, high in fiber, vitamin C, calcium and iron
Oats – Full of slow release energy, fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin B5, and folic acid
Oranges – Loaded with fiber, thiamine, folate, potassium, and, of course, lots of vitamin C and phytochemicals
Pumpkin – Low in calories, high in fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and Lutin
Salmon – Contains vital omega-3 fats, low in carbohydrates and high in protein
Soy – Nutrient dense, lots of fiber and protein, unsaturated fats, B-vitamins, folic acid, potassium, calcium, zinc and iron – and it’s cholesterol free.
Spinach – Large amounts of beta-carotene and antioxidants, along with the fiber and nutrients you’d expect from a leafy green
Tomatoes – High in nutrients and full of lycopene
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the superfoods, rather just a portion of them along with what makes them so special. As you can see from the list above all superfoods share a similar trait: high amounts of nutrients that your body needs, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and low in calories and fat. By virtue of slimming your waistline and giving your body nutritional, antioxidant and phytochemical rich foods, you can notice a “super” difference when you include superfoods in your diet.
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