If you’re going through scientific journals trying to find the definition of superfood, you’ll have a tough time. It’s not an official term, but one used by writers, lay nutritional bloggers and others to offer a clearer mental picture of the quality of a specific food. It describes a food that’s high in nutrients and offers an extraordinary number of health benefits. It’s been used to describe many types of food from the exotic like goji berries, to the more mundane, like beets.
Sometimes, it’s just Madison Avenue promoting food.
Marketing is important, even for natural foods. While an advertising agency may have come up with the idea that a particular food is a superfood, it doesn’t mean the claim is empty. Superfoods have high nutritional content, especially when you compare it to the number of calories it contains and the ad agency drew your attention to the fact. Superfoods contain enzymes, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and healthy fat. They often offer the body multiple health benefits and/or healing properties. Always do your own research.
Most foods called superfoods are whole foods.
Throughout history, man has lived off the land. Many of the foods considered superfoods today have been around, in one form or another, as long as man or longer. Ancient grains are one example. Acai berries, chia seeds, mulberries and spirulina are a few better known ones. You may already know about others like lucuma fruit—gold of the Incas, sacha inchi and maca, which are growing in popularity for their health and nutritional benefits.
Easier options to find are healthy options that should be part of your diet.
You don’t have to go to the jungle of the Amazon to find superfoods. They may be grown in your garden or on a farm close to you. Beets, for example, have been labeled a superfood. Nuts and seeds are high in nutrients and healthy fat, so some call them superfoods. Kefir and other fermented foods provide probiotic benefits and other nutrients. Olive oil, mushrooms, salmon, salmon and sweet potatoes often get the honor of being called superfoods, just as green leafy vegetables, green tea, berries, eggs and legumes do.
Superfoods also include spices and herbs. Garlic, turmeric and ginger are all included in that group. Don’t forget many of the healing herbs that have been used for centuries, like holy basil and thyme.
If you’re trying to decide whether your favorite fruit, vegetable or organic animal product is a superfood, just google it. In most cases, at least one site will call it that. It’s because most whole foods provide a wealth of nutrients.
One ancient additive that’s considered a superfood is nutritional yeast, which is often used in vegan recipes to give a cheesy flavor. It’s high in B vitamins and the best source of B12, riboflavin.
One reason amla—the Indian gooseberry—is considered a superfood, is its ability to retain a high vitamin C content even when it’s dried. It has 20 times more vitamin C than oranges and is an anti-aging food in powder form that you can add to drinks.