Types of Superfoods
Superfoods are a popular marketing term used for any food claimed to confer unique health benefits resulting from superior mineral, antioxidant or vitamin content. The term has been used so much that many people believe superfoods are a modern fad. Many of these so-called superfoods are nothing more than exotic fruits, vegetables or herbs. The majority of the so-called superfoods are not recognized as having any scientific evidence to support their claims of health giving properties. Most dietitians, nutritionists and experts all dispute that these foods possess the purported health enhancing qualities, instead citing common claims made by marketers.
Superfoods are typically claimed to have high levels of antioxidants or vitamin E, essential fatty acids, vitamin C, beta carotene, selenium, lycopene and other nutrients. These claims are based on the fact that these foods are thought to have anti aging, weight loss and cancer-fighting attributes. However, studies on real superfoods have not yielded consistent and reliable results. This may be because the true nature of these foods is still unknown.
Antioxidants are nutrients that have the ability to scavenge, or remove, free radicals from the body. Free radicals are toxic molecules that have unpaired electrons, which can damage cell membranes and cause inflammation. Antioxidants provide a shield to the body against these harmful toxins. Consuming antioxidants helps the body maintain a higher level of overall inflammation resistance, while preventing chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. A diet high in antioxidants can therefore slow the development of heart disease, and improve immunity against infectious disease.
Superfoods high in antioxidants include blueberries, cranberries, grapes, guavas, kiwi, raspberries, red grapes, resins, maple syrup, strawberries, pecans, walnuts, pomegranate, prunes and yogurt. These fruits contain healthy fats that protect the body from the onset of atherosclerosis. The antioxidants found in nuts, seeds like sunflower seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and pomegranate seeds are also very beneficial to the body. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, but they can also increase cholesterol and blood pressure.
Seeds like sunflower seeds, almonds, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts and cashews are also considered to be healthy superfoods. They can provide good sources of protein and fiber. Nuts, seeds and granola bars, especially those that are high in bran, can help lower blood pressure. Almonds are also a good source of calcium. Pop corn chips and other snack foods high in salt and fat are not good choices, especially if you want to lose weight.
Whole grain foods such as brown rice, barley, quinoa, bulgur, and whole wheat bread is considered to be another type of healthy superfood. These foods are rich in B vitamins, iron, copper and folic acid. They also contain various nutrients that can prevent heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Oatmeal is a good example of a whole grain. It has soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol and provides protection against heart disease, while reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Some people refer to beans, such as kidney beans, chickpeas, garbanzo beans, lima beans, pinto beans and adzuki beans as a superfood. They contain soluble fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin B-12 and vitamin E. However, these foods should not be used in large quantities. If you eat too much of them, your body will not have enough nutrients to cope with the extra load. Likewise, if you eat too little, your body will become short of nutrients.
Most people would probably agree that vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, squash, and cauliflower, carrots, kamut, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are definitely some of the most nutrient dense foods available. However, it is important to note that these superfoods are best consumed in their raw or boiled state. Raw veggies are more nutrient dense since they are not cooked or processed. When it comes to cooking them, less heat is needed to bring out the nutrients while boiling brings out more nutrients.