Superfoods are special. So are “real” foods. Superfoods have been given this mystical, magical and venerated status on the back of some gorgeous celebrities as the must-have answer to beauty, vitality and longevity. If names like quinoa, acai or spirulina send your brain in a spiral, let’s unravel the mystery of superfoods.
Superfoods are nutrient rich foods considered to be especially beneficial for your health and wellbeing. Just like vegetables and fruits. So why do they fascinate us? Superfoods are calorie sparse and nutrient dense, meaning they pack a lot of punch in their weight as far as goodness goes. They are high in antioxidants which protect our bodies from free radicals resulting from smoking, eating processed foods and normal metabolism.
Research shows that antioxidant levels elevate for a short period on consumption of superfoods. But these foods come at a price. The average price of the humble berries such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries is a lot easier to digest than the “super” acai or the goji. We all long for that magic pill for weight loss, smoother, younger-looking skin and soaring energy, so we seek the next best solution to fill the nutritional gaps caused by our modern lifestyle.
In a first of it’s kind study Jennifer Di Noia, PhD, an associate professor at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey ranked fruits and vegetables by their nutritional values. These “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” were ranked and scored by the amount of 17 critical nutrients they contain, including fiber, potassium, protein, calcium, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and other nutrients.
Notice that the five power foods all have antioxidants. Which means?
If you are still on a fence let me tell you this. A panel of experts voted on their 12 top foods at the Institute of Functional Medicine Conference 2013. All of these are easily available and can easily be added in a variety of ways in our diet: avocado, spinach, seaweed, pomegranate, blueberries, broccoli, grass-fed meat, salmon, almonds, coconut oil, olive oil and green tea.
No single food item, or even the top super foods combined, have enough superpowers to replace a balanced, varied and healthy diet. Couple this with avoiding excessive consumption of processed and refined foods and alcohol, and you will have done everything you can, nutritionally speaking, to help you stay healthy and well into old age.
Don’t let this stop you from indulging your penchant for the exotic names that entice you next time you are in a supermarket aisle.