Experts and medical professionals recommend them and health fanatics swear by them. Superfoods!
You’ve heard lots about things to eat that can kick your health goals into overdrive but, if you’re like me, you’re somewhat uncertain about the types of foods that can help you achieve these lofty nutritional goals. Let’s take a look.
What Are Superfoods?
Superfoods are more than just foods that are low in sugars or high in vitamins. They’re the foods that offer an outstanding nutritional profile in comparison to their edible counterparts.
Superfoods have been defined as foods that are “mostly plant-based but also some fish and dairy, that are thought to be nutritionally dense and thus good for one’s health.” The American Heart Association says there’s no real criteria for determining what constitutes a superfood. They are simply thought to contain more health benefits than other foods.
The Health Benefits of Superfoods
- Superfoods are said to contain some serious benefits to overall health and wellness and may be ideal for those interested in becoming the healthiest version of themselves.
- Superfoods take healthy foods to another level with their rich nutrient profile.
- Superfoods are rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that can help neutralize harmful “free radicals” that can cause oxidative stress in the body.
7 Common Superfoods
Some of the most popular “superfoods” are foods we already eat on a regular basis. Here is a list of some of the most beneficial and tasty of them all.
Blueberries are some of the most nutrient-dense fruits you’ll find in the grocery store. Blueberries are:
- rich in fiber and manganese
- vitamins C and K.
- antioxidants known as flavonoids
PLUS: They also contain the highest amount of antioxidants of all common fruits and veggies consumed in the U.S.
2. Dark Leafy Greens
Kale and spinach are by far the most popular superfood greens, which explains why they’re commonly found in salads and smoothies. Kale and spinach are a great source of:
- vitamin C
- fiber, folate
- iron and zinc
PLUS: Collard greens, swiss chard and turnip greens are all great dark, leafy green substitutes if you’re not wild about kale and spinach.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Root vegetables are an often overlooked superfood that are packed with health benefits. One cup of sweet potatoes contains a robust 769% daily value of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant. Sweet potatoes are high in:
- vitamin C
- vitamin B6
PLUS: Sweet potatoes are also thought to promote both gut health and brain function.
On any list of superfoods, you’re bound to find salmon. Why is it so much better for you than other fish? Salmon is loaded with:
- healthy fats
- essential B vitamins
- selenium and potassium
PLUS: Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids available.
This popular fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) isn’t just good for guacamole and toast. Avocados are considered one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods. They contain healthy and beneficial amounts of:
- 20 vitamins and minerals
- healthy fats
- vitamin K
- potassium and fiber
PLUS: Avocados are also high in carotenoids and zeaxanthin which both promote eye health.
Almonds are another of nature’s nutrient-rich foods. A one-ounce serving contains an impressive nutritional profile of:
- protein and healthy fat. Almonds also contain high levels of
- vitamin E,
- manganese and magnesium.
They’re a great source of antioxidants, which are mostly contained in their skins.
7. Dark Chocolate
Here’s some wonderful news…..chocolate is a superfood! Believe it or not, dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonoids, powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. These benefits are due to the presence of cacao (not to be confused with traditional COCOA). Dark chocolate also contains:
- nutrients like zinc and magnesium
- approximately 40x the antioxidant power of blueberries
- high levels of iron
- mood-boosting chemicals like serotonin, tryptophan and phenylethylamine (Is that why we feel so good after eating chocolate?)
PLUS: Dark chocolate contains at least 60% cacao so chocolate covered blueberries are a SUPER superfood.
Is Hemp a Superfood?
It’s important to remember that, until the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp products were considered Schedule 1 drugs. So, until recently, a whole generation of people grew up thinking hemp was dangerous. This may be one of the reasons that hemp hasn’t, as yet, been considered a “superfood”.
In reality, hemp was one of the first plants in history to be domesticated and, along with its seeds and oils, has been used for more than 10,000 years for various purposes. It was, and still can be, used to make clothing, rope, paper, and shoes, while its seeds and oils can be used as food and medicines.
Some of the most beneficial parts of the hemp plant are its seeds, where much of hemp’s nutritional value can be found. Here we’ll take a look at the power packed into hemp seeds and ponder the question, “is hemp a superfood?”
The Many Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are the base of hemp flour and hemp protein powder. Cereal, granola, and power bars can all be created with hemp as a main ingredient.
Some experts believe hemp seeds are the most nutritionally complete food source on Earth. They contain a near perfect balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, are full of amino acids and protein and contain every one of the nine essential amino acids that can’t be produced by the body.
According to the USDA, 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds (30g) contain:
- 166 calories
- 9.47g protein
- 1.2g fiber
- 21mg calcium
- 2.38mg iron
- 210mg magnesium
- 495mg phosphorus
- 360mg potassium
- 2.28mg manganese
- 2.97mg zinc
We think you’ll agree that these stats make hemp a major contender for one of the most beneficial superfoods around!
When it comes to incorporating superfoods into your diet, remember to concentrate on a variety of these nutritional items. Eating one or two superfoods here and there won’t get you closer to your health goals so incorporating several different superfoods into your daily diet will offer the most optimal nutritional benefits.
And don’t forget about the newest (and in our opinion, most exciting) superfood – hemp! We can’t help but believe that hemp will soon be accepted as a leader of the “superfood pack”.