What are superfoods?

Superfoods are food products that have great health benefits. While superfoods can improve your health in some respects, they may not be as “super” as the media describes them.

Still, buying top superfoods may be a smart decision to improve your health and eating habits. You should be familiar with these types of foods to make an informed and healthy food choice.

The following sections answer common questions you may have regarding superfoods, such as what they are and how they can benefit your health. These products cannot cure diseases or prevent infections, but they can help you consume your daily intake of fruits, vegetables and some proteins. You should review the sections below to learn everything you need to know about these nutrient-dense foods and how they can be added to a balanced diet.

Types of Superfoods

Superfoods consist of plant-based and protein-packed foods that provide high amounts of vitamins and nutrients to consumers. This superfoods list below details the types of foods that are classified as “super” and how you can identify them.

  • Whole grains. While some foods are naturally whole grain (like oatmeal, popcorn and brown rice), other foods may be available in various forms. Try to purchase items like bread, cereal, tortillas and pasta that are labeled as 100 percent whole grain or whole wheat.
  • Yogurt. Particularly, non-fat, plain yogurt. Avoiding yogurt products with additives and artificial flavoring is advised.
  • Cruciferous vegetables. These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, arugula, collards, brussels sprouts, radishes and other vegetables.
  • Olive oil. You should get extra virgin olive oil due to its healthy fat content.
  • Plant protein found in hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and pecans are ideal for healthy diets.
  • Leafy greens. Dark green spinach, kale and chard are ideal. Try to replace lighter-green vegetables like lettuce with these.
  • Berries. You should choose rich-colored berries like blueberries and blackberries.
  • Fish. Stick to fatty fish like sardines and salmon.
  • Beans. Lentils and kidney, black, red and garbanzo beans are great choices.
  • Purchase firm and ripe tomatoes to ensure you collect all essential nutrients from them.
  • Dark chocolate can be helpful in moderation.

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The best superfoods vary depending on your dietary needs, but, with numerous superfoods available, you are sure to find the best foods for you. You can visit your local grocery store to find the top superfoods near you. However, you must remember to check food labels before purchasing pre-made products claiming to contain superfoods to ensure you do not consume any unwanted or dangerous ingredients.

What do superfoods do?

Although associated with significant health benefits, superfoods are merely recommended food products that may help maintain your general health. Most nutrition experts avoid calling them superfoods but agree that the products are considered healthy. However, no superfood can cure diseases, eliminate pain or replace medical treatment of any kind. The following nutrients, vitamins and healthy ingredients can be found in most of these foods:

  • Vitamins K, A, C, B, D and E
  • Antioxidants
  • Polyphenols
  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Flavonoids
  • Carotenoids

These ingredients can give you energy, prevent some types of cell damage, soften and clear skin as well as improve your digestive health. Other potential benefits of superfoods are as follows:

  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Promote internal temperature control
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Regulate bowel movements
  • Boost immune system function

Additionally, eating healthy foods like superfoods may improve your overall mood and make you less susceptible to stress. Some studies have also shown that omega-3 and some antioxidants slow age-related memory loss. Nevertheless, the benefits you may experience after consuming superfoods regularly may depend on the types of foods you eat.

How You Can Add Superfoods to Your Diet

While superfoods may not be the solution to many ailments, they are important. You are encouraged to add your favorite superfoods to your diet as often as possible. These tips can help you incorporate superfoods into your diet without altering your eating habits significantly.

  • Eat foods of various colors. You should avoid eating meals that are primarily one color. Add vibrant fruits and vegetables to each meal to ensure you are getting all necessary nutrients.
  • Replace beef or chicken with salmon or tofu. Fatty fish and meat substitutes can be just as delicious as red meat or poultry without the indigestion or inflammation that other meats can cause.
  • Add leafy greens to soups and other meals. Greens can add some flavor and nutrients to any savory meal. Consider using shredded kale or spinach, and check out tips on how to include even more veggies into your diet.
  • Drink tea regularly. If you like herbal teas like green or matcha tea, then you should drink tea daily to reap its health benefits.
  • Bring nuts or seeds as a snack. Salty or sugary mid-afternoon snacks can be replaced with superfoods such as peanuts, almonds or other nuts or seeds. High in protein, these foods are easy to pack and store for any occasion.
  • Add fruit whenever possible. Fruit complements breakfast foods such as oatmeal, cereal or baked goods. You can also pair fruit with savory products like cheese.
  • Mix it into a smoothie. Fruit smoothies are great ways to attain essential nutrients. You can add fruits, vegetables and some herbs to your smoothie to make it flavorful and healthy.
  • Substitute baking ingredients. Instead of sugar, canned pumpkin can make light baked goods, and Greek yogurt can replace sour cream in soups.

While adding superfoods to your diet can seem complicated, these simple tips can show you how simple using the foods in your meals can be.

Note: Taking superfoods in supplement form is not recommended. Supplements may contain additional ingredients that can interact with other medications or cause harmful side effects. If you can, you are encouraged to consume superfoods in their original form. Use information provided by trusted sources like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine the safety of a supplement, and check with your healthcare provider before adding a supplement to your daily regimen.

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