What Are Superfoods?
Superfoods are those foods that provide incredible benefits to a person as they are nutritionally dense, packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, and usually have low calories. They are not something artificial, difficult to find, or expensive nutrition powders, but we have been blessed with them as they are all naturally available. There are no particular criteria for a food to be considered a ‘superfood’. Superfoods are super-healthy, but all healthy foods cannot be counted as superfoods.
What Do Superfoods Do?
Superfoods enhance health by boosting the immune system, lowering the risks of infections, and disease progression, or preventing them completely. Though all superfoods have different nutritional properties, together they lead to the following effects:
What Makes a Food a Superfood?
Superfoods have abundant health benefits and they are particularly rich in the following nutrients:
Antioxidants: They protect the different cells of the body from oxidative damage and may even lower the chances of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, etc.
Minerals: Minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, etc., are essential for the body to carry out its functions in the best ways.
Vitamins: Many important vitamins are found in them.
Fiber: High fiber content aids in decreasing bad cholesterol levels, preventing heart disease, and maintaining normal blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes.
Flavonoids: These are present in plant-based foods. They provide anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects.
Healthy Fats: Good fats or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats lower bad cholesterol levels, and prevent cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
What Are the Things to Consider While Having Superfoods?
Certain things should be kept in mind while including superfoods in the daily diet. They are as follows:
Consume a Well-Balanced Diet: Though superfoods contribute to good health and possess all essential nutrients yet having superfoods alone is not enough. Superfoods should be included in the daily diet and together with other foods, they should make a balanced diet. Gorging on a particular type of food can have deleterious effects on health.
Include a Variety of Superfoods: No particular food can provide all the essential nutrients required by our body so relying only on some of them is not recommended. Instead, different types of superfoods should be included in the diet to obtain different nutrients and benefits from them.
Take Proper Foods: Food when taken properly works as medicine. The daily diet should comprise fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, legumes, and nuts while restricting the consumption of sodium, saturated fats, and refined sugar.
What Are Some Common Superfoods?
Following is a list of common superfoods that should be consumed for their amazing benefits:
Blueberries: They are called the 'king of antioxidants.' This title is very apt owing to the vitamins and minerals present in blueberries. Blueberries contain a group of compounds called anthocyanins that have numerous benefits like preventing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke. In addition, they help prevent iron deficiency as blueberries contain vitamin C, which enhances iron absorption. They almost meet the 24 percent requirement of vitamin C as per the recommended dietary allowance intake. So, do consume blueberries. You can mix them with yogurt, which is a lovely source of probiotics that will cleanse your gut, cure bloating, and destroy harmful bacteria in the gut.
Turmeric: It is beneficial as it contains compounds called curcuminoids and specifically curcumin, which are anti-inflammatory and help combat free radical scavenging, thus preventing various metabolic syndrome disorders. In addition, you can add turmeric to milk and consume it at night as they have magical properties to prevent and cure cold and fever.
Amla (Indian Gooseberry): A tiny fruit loved by many, fulfills the need of the daily requirement of 65 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C just by consuming one tiny amla. It even competes with the large watermelon in its vitamin C content. Also, it is loaded with other nutrients like B complex vitamins, selenium, and magnesium. Do you know the secret of long and strong hair? Just protein? Amla has tremendous effects on long and strong hair, just like those shown in shampoo advertisements.
Flaxseeds: It is a wonderful superfood filled with fiber and aid in weight loss. It also destroys symptoms of iron deficiency anemia and pernicious anemia. You can have it plain or roasted. Sprinkle it on cut fruits to enhance the absorption of iron. You can even have it half an hour before or after your main meal for excellent benefits, as just a tablespoon of flaxseeds provides seven grams of fiber.
Chia Seeds: Make chia seeds your best friend as they are loaded with ample amounts of protein and fiber, and also, they are low in calories which will aid weight loss. In addition, they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which will promote good heart health. You can mix them with flaxseeds and consume them along with cut fruits. They help raise good fat levels (high-density lipoprotein), which remove bad cholesterol from the arteries and give it to bile through digestion, thus lowering the blood pressure and preventing a stroke.
Oats: They are a source of beta-glucan and rich in soluble fiber, which helps eradicate fatty streaks built up in the heart and thus prevent atherosclerosis. The best way to consume them is by making an oats smoothie by adding chia seeds and flaxseeds, a favorite fruit of your choice, and some yogurt, an essential probiotic. You can even have oats porridge in the morning which will lower the glycemic index and keep you energetic throughout the day.
Almonds and Walnuts: We all have heard since childhood that almonds and walnuts boost brain development. It is true. Almonds are a source of good fats, which will raise the high-density lipoprotein and decrease the bad cholesterol levels (very low-density lipoprotein). In addition, according to various research studies, almonds and walnuts are known to slow down the aging of brain cells. Thus, they are essential to developing one's cognitive development.
You can soak them or just consume six almonds during mid meals or in the evening. Even when you are too busy at work, you can consume them. Roasted horse gram is another healthy choice.
Superfoods are of utmost importance for a balanced diet leading to good health. They should be taken in appropriate quantities and in different types to get all their profits. In addition to exercise and regular physical activity, a healthy and nutritious diet can revitalize health.