Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet
Those seeking a healthful diet inevitably come across the often misunderstood word “superfood.” When one thinks of the term “Superfoods”, they can be forgiven for getting a visual image of Superman or perhaps the Avengers going out to grab a supersized burger and fries. After all, doesn’t “superfoods” refer to heaping portions of delicious foods that aren’t so good for you? Not really. Superfoods may not be what they or you think they are. Foods in the superfood category have not necessarily been enhanced in some magical way but have naturally occurring health-promoting properties. In this article you’ll find out answers to the following questions:
- Understanding what superfoods really are?
- What makes a superfood?
- What are examples of the most powerful superfoods?
- Best form to take these foods?
- How superfoods benefit the body?
- What are the long term health benefits of eating these types of foods?
- Can bodybuilders benefit from eating superfoods?
What are superfoods?
Superfoods are both a food and a medicine, they have elements of both. They are a class of the most potent, super-concentrated, and nutrient-rich foods on the planet—they have more bang for the buck than our usual foods. Extremely tasty and satisfying, superfoods have the ability to tremendously increase the vital force and energy of one’s body, and are the optimum choice for improving overall health. They have been proven to provide health benefits well beyond just a few vitamins. The main point here is that superfoods are not drugs; they are natural, nutrition-dense foods that are good for your health. WebMD considers superfoods as “powerful enough to lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and for an added bonus, put you in a better mood.”
What makes a superfood?
What we know is that superfoods are packed with compounds that stabilize free radicals, wards off diseases, and are beneficial to human health. To put it simple, they are rich in “all the good stuff” that your body needs.
Superfoods represent an awesome piece of the nutrition puzzle, as they are great source of clean, hormone-free, pesticide, and chemical-free:
- Phytonutrients (phytochemicals). Phytonutrients are thousands of natural chemicals you can find in plant foods and plant-based foods such as nuts and beans. Their role is to protect the plant from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other threats. Although phytonutrients are not essential for humans, the intake of phytonutrients will prevent harmful diseases and promote a healthy body.
- Indoles. This is type of a phytochemical that contains agents that fight the elements that can cause cancer. Broccoli is an example.
- Vitamins and minerals. As we all know, vitamins are essential in keeping a healthy body. However, Vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene are the superstars when it comes to acting as antioxidants and maintaining an overall well-being. Along with vitamins, consuming foods with minerals is also essential for obtaining a lot of health benefits. Minerals such as zinc, copper, as well as iron have antioxidative effects and lower blood pressure.
- Essential fatty acid (Omega-3). Omega-3 is a type of fatty acid we can find in superfoods such as fish, nuts, and chia seeds. It prevents heart ailments, develops and maintains the brain’s function, and have strong antiinflammatory effects.
- Glyconutrient (essential polysaccharide sugar). Glyconutrients are a group of sugars extracted from plants and thought to be essential for the body by helping cell-to-cell communication.
- Proteins (essential amino acids).
- Enzymes and coenzymes.
Examples of the most powerful superfoods
Superfoods are mostly plant-based: vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. However, certain meat, fish and dairy also fall into this category.
There is actually an extensive list of food considered under the category of superfoods. Some of them may be unfamiliar to you (like chia seeds and spirulina) while some superfoods can just be found in your cupboard or local grocery.
Here’s the list of the top twelve superfoods:
- Goji berries
- Bee products (honey, bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly)
- AFA blue-green algae
- Marine phytoplankton
- Aloe vera
- Coconuts and coconut products
- Resveratrol (compound present in red wine)
Here are some examples of superfoods that you can easily add to your grocery list: salmon, broccoli, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, blueberries, oats, spinach and kale, ginger, sardines, avocado, dark bitter chocolate (with a minimum of 70 percent cacao), lentils, red wine, yogurt, skim milk, quinoa, almonds, etc.
What is the best form to take these foods?
Try to consume superfoods in raw and organic form as much as you can. Most researches demonstrate that living, organic raw food is superior in vitamin content, enzymes, coenzymes, protein, minerals, glyconutrients, and many other elements of nutrition. Even chimpanzees in zoos will select fresh, organic raw food in preference to other foods. Nature provides us with raw food.
How superfoods benefit the body?
Superfoods have been on the tip of the tongues of those who have made a commitment to better eating and living. This is because there are truly some foods that are simply super for the body. Each has the ability to provide the body with the right mix of nutrients that is required. In fact, many superfoods have been associated with healing and improving body functionality, as these foods are comprised of the right mix of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
However the top twelve superfoods listed above are known to improve the severity and symptoms of nearly every major disease condition known, including:
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Cancer (all types)
Diabetes (types 1 and 2)
Herpes (I, II, Epstein-Barr)
High blood pressure
Nervous system disorders
What are the long-term health benefits of eating superfoods?
Even if you don’t have any health problems at this point, we strongly encourage you to start eating superfoods in order to reduce the risk for diseases in the future. You simply need to eat foods that have the correct nutrients to help keep yourself in good health and shape (you’ll get more nutrition with less eating). They help you do this without having to take dead vitamin and mineral supplements.
- Boosts the immune system. These types of foods will boost your immune system and would protect you from harmful elements that may cause sickness. This is due to the vitamins and minerals they contain.
- Reduces the risk of developing diseases that are related to diet. Eating substantial amounts of superfoods daily help in deterring serious ailments such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiac problems.
- Makes you younger. Having these foods in your diet can actually slow down the effects of aging such as poor vision, weak joints, etc. This is because of the natural source of antioxidants.
- Increases energy. Even without consuming too much sugar to perk up your energy, superfoods will improve energy levels. This is in contrast to the feeling you get after eating fast food, or empty calorie foods which only makes you feel lethargic.
- Good in the digestive system. Since these foods are all natural you are assured that these types of food are good for your digestive system.
There are more benefits you can gain depending on which type of superfood you are going to consume.
Can bodybuilders benefit from eating superfoods?
You may find this answer a little disappointing but we have to be completely honest. As a person trying to build bigger muscles you will definitely benefit from incorporating superfoods into your diet. However, there is no direct connection between eating these foods and building greater muscles. By now you already know that superfoods are mostly plant-based (with certain exceptions). Yes, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, enzymes and coenzymes and the whole bunch of different substances. However, these substances are not directly related with muscle growth.
As you already know, protein is made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. However, majority of the plant-based foods available in the markets worldover are unable to fulfil our daily protein requirements. Due to this fact, we need to combine two or more foods in order to make protein-rich diet. In general, animal sources of protein are complete sources, and plant sources are incomplete sources. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, quinoa and soy are complete sources of protein from plants. But we don’t consider soy to be a superfood (not even a healthy food).
Therefore, superfoods in general, just like vitamins and minerals, do not directly affect muscle growth and they do not necessarily affect exercise. In other words, they make better environment in your body for muscle growth to occur as a result of real muscle-growth factors. Although these micronutrients don’t themselves enhance athletic performance, they’re necessary to achieve optimal levels of performance.
We all remember from nutrition class in school that many different kinds of food provide vital nutrients and vitamins essential to good health. However, “superfoods” are, super, for yet another reason. They provide health benefits well beyond just a few vitamins. They are rich in nutrients and natural substances (various phytochemicals, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, enzymes and coenzymes, etc.) for which we know for sure to improve your health and reduce your risk for diseases.
In conclusion, if you want to enjoy its full benefits, then you have to consider consuming superfoods as a lifestyle change. It is not just a simple diet or detox program, but instead you have to make the conscious effort of eating superfoods every meal. This is not actually a drastic change in your diet, because you can easily incorporate superfoods in your usual meals so that you can gain the benefit it provides.