The term ‘Superfood’ is a word that has been popularized in recent years as a way of categorizing a long list of ‘healthy’ foods into one marketable term. The Oxford English dictionary describes a superfood as a “nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”. By that definition, wouldn’t most foods be considered a ‘Superfood’?
Superfoods typically encompass foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals, or micronutrients. Superfoods vary in providing your body with rich sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But, rather than viewing these certain types of foods as ‘super’, you should view these micronutrient-packed items as simple essentials to your daily nutrition plan.
So, what exactly falls under this realm of superfoods? Let’s take a look at 5 superfoods that will provide you with essential vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy and functioning far into the future.
Blueberries are one of the most popular superfoods due to their high concentration of antioxidants. Keeping your body fueled with antioxidants protects the cells in your body, lowering your chances of getting diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease(1). Blueberries are also packed with Vitamin C and fiber, and have been shown to reduce the risk of cognitive functionality as you get older.
Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, blueberries are the perfect sweet snack to sprinkle on top of your morning oatmeal or yogurt. One half cup of blueberries is only going to yield approximately 40 calories and less than 8 grams of sugar, so you can ditch the sugar toppings and ramp up the flavor of your oatmeal or yogurt with this delicious superfood.
If you were going to designate a king of the superfoods, beets may take the crown. When it comes to building muscle, beets lead the way due to their naturally high concentration of nitrates. Nitrates help to improve blood flow and vascularity, which is why this superfood is used in many different supplements in beetroot form. And, the high nitrate levels within beets have been shown to help lower blood pressure(2).
Beets are also packed with betaine and folic acid, which help to improve endurance and reduce inflammation within the body. So, if you are looking for a natural vasodilator with multiple health benefits, this superfood can’t be beat.
No, they’re not considered super because you have to pay an extra dollar to add them to your sandwich or burrito. One of the best sources for ‘healthy’ fats, avocados pack 5 grams of fiber in each ½ serving. The vitamins and antioxidants packed in an avocado are never ending – they provide a quality source of Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K and provide one of the most important antioxidants, glutathione. Glutathione has been shown to provide protection against certain cancers.
Bananas often get overlooked as a highly nutritious superfood. They are one of the best sources of potassium you can get, which helps in maintaining heart function and blood pressure. Getting a daily dose of potassium helps strengthen your bones and with only 1mg of sodium per banana, this superfood helps to fight high blood pressure.
While bananas due pack almost 30 grams of carbohydrates per serving, you shouldn’t shy away from this fruit – it’s still extremely low in calories and sodium. If you are watching your carbohydrate intake then slice your banana in half as a topping or snack so you can still reap the micronutrient benefits of this delicious superfood.
Thought superfoods could only be fruits and vegetables? Think again. Let’s step out of the box when thinking about ‘typical’ superfoods for a second and look at the super-nutrients of salmon.
Packed with quality protein (31.5g per 6 ounces), this delicious fish contains a quality source of Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Getting a quality dose of omega-3 fatty acids each day has been shown to reduce the risk of heart-disease and help with alleviating joint pain(3).
1. Dröge W. (2002). Free radicals in the physiological control of cell function. Physiol Rev 82(1):47–95.
2. Webb AJ et al. (2008). Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective, and antiplatelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite. Hypertension 51:784–90.
3. Kris-Etherton PM et al. (2003). Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 23:e20–e30.