Everything You Need to Know About Superfoods
The word “superfood” seems to pop up just about everywhere these days -- from smoothie menus to salad bars to bags of frozen vegetable blends. But what does it mean, why should you care, and which foods are truly worthy of the title?
The origin of ‘superfood’
A fairly new term compared to most words in the English language, “superfood” is thought to have been coined in the early 1900s by a fruit company who was seeking to create buzz about bananas and increase their use and importance in Americans’ daily routines. The campaign centered around the nutritional benefits of bananas, and later, on their potential positive effects on certain health conditions.
What are superfoods?
A superfood is defined as a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Basically, determining if something is a superfood means asking how many (and what amount of) beneficial nutrients does a food, plant or herb offer, compared to the calories it provides? And what benefits does it provide for health and well-being?
Superfoods are the items that have the best ratio of calories to nutrients and benefits. They give you the highest nutritional “return” for your caloric investment, so to speak. Superfoods are the opposite of “junk” foods, which typically offer low nutritional benefits compared to the calories they provide.
6 superfoods you should know about
You’re probably eating superfoods everyday, even if you don’t think of them that way. Here are 6 common and not-so-common superfoods we think are worth a look:
- Blueberries: That deep bluish purple color of these bite-sized berries is more than just pretty -- it’s a sign that this fruit is full of beneficial antioxidants. Blueberries also provide fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese.
- Moringa: While it may not be as well known as the blueberry, moringa packs a powerful nutritional punch, delivering vitamin A, calcium, potassium, iron and 18 different amino acids. You can find moringa in Your Best Shot for Wellness & Energy, as one of 7 beneficial nutrients and superfoods formulated to support well-being.*
- Salmon: Stocked with brain-and-heart-healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids), salmon is also an excellent source of protein. The American Heart Association recommends consuming at least two servings of fish per week.
- Dark chocolate: Yes, chocolate is a superfood! As long as it’s at least 70% cacao, that is. Dark chocolate is chock full of antioxidants, as well as helpful minerals such as iron and magnesium. (Did you know? Dark chocolate may also help improve your mood by boosting serotonin levels in the brain.)
- Turmeric: This orange-yellow spice adds more than just flavor to curry -- it contains a compound known as curcumin that may have amazing benefits for the body’s inflammatory response, cardiovascular health and more.*
- Spinach: Popeye was onto something -- spinach (and leafy greens in general) are touted as superfoods because they have minimal calories but maximum nutritional benefits in the form of calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, just to name a few.
Runners up: there are so many beneficial foods, herbs and plants, we couldn’t possibly name them all. Our honorable mentions are maca root, for its amazing effects on energy, and avocados, for their healthy fat and absolutely perfect texture for spreading on toast.