Superfoods: Do You Really Need to Consume Them?

Nutrition & Recipes ,

Superfoods: Do You Really Need to Consume Them?

The health and wellness industry is filled with all types of diet plans. However, a lot of people are not aware that the simple foods which they ignore from local grocery stores contain all the nutrients that they need. Some of them are super nutritious and that’s why they are called superfoods. This article gives an overview of the top superfoods, their benefits as well as the risks which are associated with them

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What are Superfoods?

Nutritionally, there isn’t anything such as a superfood. However, this is a marketing term that was coined in reference to foods which are highly nutritious and contain numerous health benefits. The high nutrient density of these foods makes them suitable for improving wellness and easing the symptoms of various chronic illnesses.

Top Superfoods & Their Benefits

The top superfoods have high amounts of anti-inflammatories, flavonoids, and antioxidants. They have proved to be vital in easing the symptoms of various diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease among others. Superfoods also help to reduce inflammations and enhancing the immune function.

The superfoods list consists of:

Salmon

Salmon contains high amounts of omega-3s and protein. They also have low amounts of saturated fat and calories. Consuming salmon can help to slow down the growth of plaque which clogs the blood vessels, increasing the chances of blood pressure.

Berries

They have high fiber content including vitamins and phytochemicals which help to lower the possibility of contracting chronic diseases.  It is believed that the natural antioxidants which are found in berries can curb stress which also contributes to ageing.

Some of the best types of berries include:

  • Goji Berries: They are native to Asia. Goji berries have high amounts of vitamin C and vitamin E. Additionally, they are rich in flavonoids. These berries are normally used to treat high blood pressure and diabetes. Besides that, they are effective in maintaining kidney, eye, and liver health.
  • Blueberries: They contain high amounts of vitamin K, manganese, and fiber. Blueberries also have flavonoids which may help to reduce the risk of conditions such as urinary tract infection.
  • Acai Berries: They are native to South America. Acai berries are rich in amino acids as well as antioxidants which help to fight and eliminate damaging radicals.

Soy

They are derived from soybeans. Soy is rich in isoflavones which help to reduce the level of bad cholesterol in the blood. Other studies have shown that soy also has the ability to reduce symptoms of age-induced memory loss. Additionally, it is important for improving bone density, especially during the menopause phase.

Grapes

Grapes contain quercetin flavonoid which is rich in natural anti-inflammatory. It helps to reduce the likelihood of the consumer contracting atherosclerosis. Quercetin has elements that may reduce the development or spread of certain types of cancer and minimize the damage that’s caused by bad cholesterol.

Dark Leafy Greens

Leafy greens have high amounts of nutrients including minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, iron, vitamin C, folate, calcium etc. They help to reduce the possibility of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Dark leafy greens have high amounts of anti-inflammatory i.e. carotenoids which may protect the body against types of cancer.

Some of the most common types of leafy green superfood include:

  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens
  • Collard greens

Green tea

Most people, especially those who belong to the Asian community have marveled about the benefits of green tea for centuries. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate compounds which are antioxidant-rich. Research shows that green tea can also help to reduce high blood pressure and lower blood cholesterol.

Nuts and Seeds

They contain high fiber content. Nuts and seeds are vegetarian-friendly and contain healthy fats and high amounts of protein. Additionally, they contain high amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, protecting the boy against oxidative stress. The best type of superfoods which are nuts and seeds include:

  • Peanuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Macadamia, Brazil nuts, cashews
  • Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds

Legumes

They include beans, lentils, and peas all which have low amounts of fat and high amounts of protein. Legumes are also good sources of minerals such as phosphorus, iron, and potassium and have high amounts of soluble fiber. They are great superfoods which help to reduce high blood cholesterol and blood sugar. Research shows that a high-fiber diet such as this can significantly eliminate harmful compounds including carcinogens from the body.

Quinoa

It’s an excellent substitute for pasta and rice. Quinoa seed helps to increase the amount of nutrients and fiber in your diet. It has a unique flavor, lacks gluten, and contains high amounts of protein. Besides that, quinoa is easy to digest. The reason why it makes the list of top superfoods is that it’s useful in easing symptoms of diabetes type 2. Quinoa provides the body with so much protein without causing a spike in blood sugar. Taking it daily in conjunction with other grains can significantly reduce the risk of heart failure.

Other Superfoods

  • Wheatgrass
  • Beets
  • Beets juice
  • Blue-green algae
  • Spirulina
  • Garlic
  • Barley
  • Turmeric

Superfoods and Diet

It is possible for superfoods to be incorporated into various types of healthy diets. However, you don’t need to spend so much time and money searching for them. The truth is that even the fruits and vegetables which are found in your local grocery stores are just beneficial like the over-priced superfoods. Always make sure that you buy a produce that is in-season to get the highest amount of nutrient content.  Pick that carrot or apple, because all vegetables and fruits are technically superfoods.

If you want to consume more superfoods:

  • Ensure that your plate is colorful. If your plate has food content that’s beige or brown, then there are high chances that you are consuming fewer antioxidants. Add in berries, kale, nuts etc.
  • Replace your usual poultry or beef with tofu or salmon.
  • Try to add more chopped greens to your soups.
  • Make nuts and seeds your snacks.
  • Add some berries to cereal, baked goods, salads, oatmeal etc.
  • For every meal that you consume, ensure that there is a fruit or vegetable.
  • Take matcha tea or green tea daily.
  • Use plant-based spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, clove, turmeric etc. to increase your intake of antioxidants.

How Superfoods and Supplements Can Work Together

Supplements and organic superfood can work together to promote health and wellness. They are all rich in minerals and vitamins which help to nourish the body. They promote healthy weight, fight damaging radicals, eliminate toxic wastes, and enhance the skin’s appearance among others. If you want to effectively use supplements alongside superfoods, ensure that it is 100 percent natural to avoid the harmful side effects of artificial fillers.

Tips for Using Supplements

The reason why many people use dietary supplements is because they want to attain their wellness goals and stay healthy. Dietary supplements are commonly sold as powders, pills, or liquids. There are numerous sources which indicate that they are effective in treating and preventing nutrient deficiency. However, it is not widely known if supplements can treat certain diseases. If you wish to use dietary supplements, below are some of the tips which you should consider:

  • Be informed: Take charge of what you eat by getting informed beforehand. There are no specific marketing standards for supplements because they are not regulated by the FDA. Look at the supplement’s claims as well as scientific evidence which support its effectiveness.
  • Natural doesn’t translate to safe: Some natural ingredients are not safe. For instance, kava is a type of herb that is harmful to the liver. Additionally, terms such as certified, verified, or standardized doesn’t necessarily mean that a supplement is safe.
  • Possible interactions: Whether they are over-the-counter or prescription drugs, supplements can interact with certain drugs including antiretroviral, birth control pills, and antidepressants among others.

Where to Find and How to Use Superfoods

Superfoods are special types of foods which can be found at the local grocery stores. They are local, organic, and 100 percent unprocessed. It’s for this reason that they are found almost everywhere. Compared to supplements, superfoods are readily available all over the world. A superfood can be a multi- or single ingredient.

A single ingredient superfood simply contains one main type of superfood which could be flaxseed, spirulina, Maca etc. A multi-ingredient superfood, on the other hand, involves a combination of vegetables, probiotics, nuts, berries etc.

Ways to Use Superfood

  • Adding the Powder to Your Favorite Smoothie: This is one of the most common ways which people consume superfood powder. Note that some powders have unpleasant tastes e.g. those that contain spirulina and you can mask the bad taste by using smoothies.

Note: the smoothie needs to fresh and healthy for consumption. Avoid smoothies which are made with heavy syrups or those that are canned. In case you want to add some kind of dairy element, use low-fat milk or Greek yogurt. Refrain from using ice creams or juices which are filled with artificial sugars.

  • Adding the Powder in Juice: For those who love juicing, this is another great alternative. Simply add the powder into a fresh glass of juice. The taste of the superfood’s powder will blend with that of the juice.
  • Sprinkle the Superfood Powder over Your Food: This is another great alternative of consuming superfoods. You can sprinkle a tablespoon of the powder over your favorite snacks or meals. The powder can be added on top of foodstuffs such as quinoa before you can mix it with soups, popcorns, or vegetables.

Apart from all the above-mentioned techniques, it’s possible to blend your own superfood.  If you want a vegetable base, get your favorite vegetables and chop them. The same applies if you want a fruit base.  A vegetable or fruit base can also have a liquid base which often contains water. You can add thickening ingredients such as oats or yogurt to improve consistency. A layer of flavor can then be added since some superfoods have bad tastes. You can use well-sliced dates, vanilla syrup, honey, cinnamon powder etc. to add flavor. Thereafter, blend and serve yourself.

Things to consider before taking superfoods

  • Start with smaller doses: as much as nearly all superfoods have very little side effects, it’s not right to consume them in excess. Additionally, you will gain better nutrition benefits with a smaller dose. Take around a tablespoon per day. If you are taking multiple superfoods, avoid mixing them. You can take just one or two daily. One of the best ways to gain the best benefits is by skipping some days.
  • Be consistent in your consumption: Don’t just take the superfood for a few days and then drop everything. You won’t gain any benefits. Although you can’t take superfoods every day, you need to have a schedule.

Superfood Recipes

Superfoods are definitely powerhouses. Although the usual greens, grains, berries, and nuts may be common, they are vital for good health. There are thousands of superfood recipes which can be found online.

Some of the top recipes include:

  • Chicken Stew and Sweet Potato: This is a nutrient-rich recipe that doesn’t need salt. All you need is to add tomatoes to make it creamy and healthy.
  • Mushrooms and Brussel Sprouts: this is an easier and convenient combination. Simply slice the mushrooms, chop the sprouts, and add pasta.
  • Salmon-Lentil Superfood Salad: one of the budget-friendly superfood recipes. Get canned salmon, Lentils, celery, and carrots to create this fiber-rich superfood recipe. If you are looking for a great midweek dinner, then this is the best alternative.
  • The Mexican-cabbage Soup: it’s a superfood recipe that involves multiple healthy veggies such as cabbage, onion, peppers, carrot, and celery. You can use herbal-based spices and beans to create a thick soup. This combination is rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

Superfoods vs Multivitamins

It is easier to get confused between taking superfoods or multivitamins. But for starters, most multivitamins are just overhyped supplements which contain trace amounts of minerals and vitamins. They are not highly effective when it comes to supporting health and wellness. Additionally, manufacturers usually bind them with agents such as preservatives, caking agents, and sweeteners. As a result, they take longer to be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause numerous health problems. Furthermore, multivitamins contain various ingredients which means that they are only effective when consumed in higher doses. This means that users are prone to overdose.

But what exactly makes superfoods the best alternatives? Well, naturally, the human body works in such a way that it has a high affinity of assimilating nutrients which are derived from natural sources. Superfoods are functional foods which are not processed. They contain all the essential nutrients in correct ratios which the body needs.

Multivitamins

  • Contain trace amounts of vitamin elements
  • It’s easy to overdose on them
  • Very expensive
  • Can pass through the digestive tract without getting absorbed
  • Contain other synthetic agents which are harmful to the body

Superfoods’

  • They have a wide range of minerals which the body needs
  • Are obtained from natural sources’
  • Contain all the essential nutrients
  • They provide the body with long-lasting and natural energy supply
  • They get absorbed by the body in a better way
  • Promote the feeling of fullness and effectively helps to reduce hunger pangs and food cravings
  • May promote the functions of the immune system
  • Superfoods can be incorporated into other meal replacements such as baked foods, fruit juices, smoothies, yogurts, breakfast drinks among others.

Risks of Consuming Superfoods

Consuming superfood as a supplement isn’t the same as consuming it from real foods. A wide range of supplements which are found on the market can have extreme biological effect on the consumer’s body. Additionally, supplements have high chances of interacting with certain medications. And when you take them in high doses you risk developing mineral or vitamin toxicity.

Final Thoughts

One of the best ways which you can use to attain optimal health is by eating highly nutritious foods. Do not focus on the latest health trends. Superfoods are great alternatives and they are composed of a wide range of easily available foods. Furthermore, they also form part of a well-balanced diet. Not only do they help to prevent the risk of certain diseases but they also help to improve the overall health of the consumer.

Sources

  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/true-superfoods#section17
  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/10-superfoods-to-boost-a-healthy-diet-2018082914463
  • https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/blog/superfoods-that-are-not-really-super
  • https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/get-smart-about-superfoods-infographic

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