The Super Science of Superfoods: How Super are These Foods?

The word ‘Superfood’ has certainly given a new insight to the health world, as they are being promoted as special foods available from nature. The present popularity of superfoods is perhaps due to the increasing interest in the health of the public, especially in the developed nations. Although the term was introduced in the early 20th century, it is gaining popularity only recently. While they are popular as a powerhouse of multiple nutrients, no scientific definition exists as of now.

Concept and Definition of Superfoods

Broadly, superfoods are known as nutrient dense and calorie sparse foods, which means they are not only capable of making you lose extra weight but also gain a significant level of improvement in health. In relative to the existing foods, the superfoods are superior sources of essential nutrients that we cannot make but are required.

According to the Oxford English dictionary, a superfood is defined as a nutrient-rich food beneficial for well-being. However, if we look at the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it does not relate it to health and states as a super nutrient-dense food fully packed with fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Therefore, it would not be wrong to infer that superfoods have comprehensive nutrient content to offer a wholesome health benefit as compared to other foods.

Top 10 Superfoods with Their Benefits

Listed below are top 11 superfoods that anyone can eat irrespective of the age, gender, and vegetarian/non-vegetarian preference.

Avocados

These are not only delicious but also rich in healthy fats that are essential for the body. It has a distinct compound in its MUFAs, which is called Oleic acid that can trigger silent hunger. Just have half avocado and you can enjoy watching your belly fat dissolving on its own. Avocados are also packed with protein, vitamin E, magnesium, folate, beta-sitosterol, lutein, chlorophyll, glutathione, carotenoids, polyphenols, potassium, and fiber.

Health Benefits: Triggers weight loss, lowers the risk of prostate cancer, can reduce cholesterol

Blueberries

These berries are just not capable of triggering anti-aging but also anti-obesity effects. Just one cup gives only 80 calories and a few grams of fiber, which make you feel full quickly. Although low in Vitamin C, blueberries are rich in antioxidant phytonutrients, fiber, Vitamin E, salicylic acid, carotenoids, ascorbic acid, and folate.

Health Benefits: Prevents cancer, enhances brain function, slows down aging, improves balance and coordination, boosts cell communication, helps in weight loss

Broccoli

This cruciferous vegetable, similar to cauliflower, and cabbage in looks is a genuine superfood. It’s also known for its cancer-preventing properties as well as anti-weight qualities with only 30 calories per serving. Broccoli is rich in filling fiber, calcium, folate, ascorbic acid, sulforaphane, and indoles.

Health Benefits: Prevents cancer, detoxifies body, lowers cholesterol, defends eyes, balances metabolism, helps in bones and teeth formation

Oats

Oats are rich in protein as well as fiber and low in calories. Because it is fibrous, it can make you feel full, once eaten, throughout the day. Oats are healthy carbs burning fat and boosting metabolism. Other nutrients in oats include copper, zinc, thiamin, potassium, selenium magnesium, and beta glucan.

Health Benefits: Regulates sugar levels, reduces cholesterol, improves immune response to infection, and lowers risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and Type II diabetes

Dark Chocolate

This type of chocolate is becoming the favorite of chocolate lovers. Just as oats, it can make you feel full for a long time by slowing down digestion. Just a nibble does it all! This type of chocolate is rich in Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs), healthy fats that improve metabolism to reduce calories and fat. It can also aid in curbing cravings for sweet or salty things. The chocolate is also rich in zinc, iron, copper, potassium, manganese, fiber, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, flavonols and antioxidants.

Health Benefits: Controls blood pressure, reduce heart disease risk, improves brain function, safeguards skin from sun, and enhances blood flow

Green Tea

Antioxidants are responsible for several health benefits conferred by green tea. As per a study, five cups a day without sugar can make one get rid of twice as much middleweight.

Health Benefits: Fat and calorie burner, prevents cancer, fights diabetes and free radicals, protects from neurological disorders, decreases risk of Parkinson’s, can protect from ultraviolet rays

Kiwi

Named after a bird, this fruit interestingly originated in China in the early 20th century due to which it was known as Chinese Gooseberry. The fruit is rich in Vitamin E, potassium, indoles, folate, fiber, ascorbic acid, and polyphenols.

Health Benefits: Reduces osteoarthritis symptoms especially severe, controls cataract & macular degeneration, neutralizes free radicals, contributes to ear and brain health, can prevent colon cancer

Spinach

Of all the leafy veggies, spinach seems to be the most nutrient-dense vegetable to be had on the daily basis. It is rich in vitamin B complexes, vitamin E, beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, alpha lipoic acid, lutein, and glutathione.

Health Benefits: Fights cancer and macular degeneration, reduces blood pressure, prevents asthma, lowers heart disease risk, improves skin, hair, and bone health

Pomegranates

Surprised? Well, not many of us know but it is true that pomegranates are a powerhouse for nutrients that can improve the overall health. They are rich in vitamin B6, potassium, polyphenols, and ascorbic acid.

Health Benefits: Fights cancer, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, inhibits unusual platelet aggregation, helps immune system, can defend against osteoporosis or undo atherosclerotic plaque

Whole Grains

Switching to these foods is perhaps the simplest way to improve your health. Brown rice, oatmeal, barley, and whole wheat flour are whole grain foods. Even ancient stuff such as amaranth, quinoa, and Kamut are also beneficial, as they are rich in fiber and protein. Products having labels such as multi-grain, 100% wheat, organic, bran, or seven-grain might have no or only little whole grain. All whole grains have proteins, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, vitamin B complex nutrients, and all minerals.

Health Benefits: Stabilizes sugar and insulin, safeguards from heart disease, facilitates healthy formation of bones and teeth, strengthens immune and nervous systems, regulates heart rate and blood pressure, prevents cell damage

Let Superfoods be Super!

According to Penny Kris-Etherton who is a nutrition expert, the so-called superfoods are beneficial for one’s overall health when had through a healthy diet having a balanced amount of low-fat milk, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy products. He also says that eating superfoods is not going to hurt the health and that as a registered dietician, it is a wish to see people consuming more of superfoods such as nuts, whole grains, seeds, veggies, and fruits.

However, he requests people not to have unrealistic expectations such as protection from chronic diseases, from these foods. This is because people then tend to each too much of one food type, which can prevent them from getting the sufficient amounts of nutrients and contrarily put them at health risks. For example, dark chocolate with its healthy bioactive compounds is beneficial for weight loss but it had in too many amounts, and with sugar, it can precisely give you reverse results.