What is a Superfood?
These days, while scanning the aisles of your local grocery store, you’ll probably notice a bunch of buzzwords marketers throw onto packaging, and quite willy-nilly if you ask us. Whether it’s the terms green, organic, or fairtrade, oftentimes companies will stick these words on their labels just to draw in the attention of uneducated, less in the know, or confused consumers. However, these words can definitely have significance beyond their misuse in marketing. One major health food aisle buzzword we’ve been hearing lately is “superfood.” The term sounds like it’s come straight out of a Marvel comic, but it actually does perfectly describe the items it categorizes.
By definition a superfood is any food packed full of specific nutrients that are important to human health. You are able to eat most superfoods stand-alone or add them to larger meals to metabolize these nutrients. That said, sometimes there are specific ways of preparing superfoods to reap their full benefits; usually raw as opposed to cooked fruits and veggies will be more nutrient-dense.
The word superfood is used quite frequently by marketers and in the media, you’ll rarely hear qualified medical and nutritional specialists and scientists use this term since it isn’t one developed by the science and nutrition communities. Although it’s likely the word superfood came from the minds of marketers, it doesn’t make superfoods any less healthful. Studies of these foods do show them to have exceedingly high amounts of nutrients needed for our bodies to function and thrive. Some of these superfoods include:
Besides adding a delightful colour to your morning smoothies, blueberries contain the big “a” word, antioxidants, and a slew of other necessary nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, soluble fibre, and phytochemicals (which studies have shown may decrease the risk of certain heart conditions in young women).
The word quinoa means “mother grain” in the Incan language. And for good reason. This superfood contains a good source — at least 10 per cent of your recommended daily intake — of protein, fibre, Vitamin B6, thiamin and iron. Amongst nutritionists, quinoa is renowned for being one of the only plant foods that provides complete proteins, containing a healthy balance of all the essential amino acids. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.
Some people point to kale and kale alone as the leafy green superfood but in reality, most if not all dark, leafy greens can be considered superfoods as they all have extremely high nutrient content and contain Vitamins A, C, K, fibre and calcium.
Superfoods can be great, but balance is crucial. As any nutritionist or doctor would tell you, striking the right balance in your diet is key to maintaining good health. Don’t just pick one superfood you love and consume it all day every day. Even though these foods may be super, they still contain calories and can lead to weight gain if you over consume calories for the day.