The word “superfood” has been tossed around a lot in recent years, but there’s some ambiguity about what it actually means. There is no set definition of what makes one food more “super” than the other. However, there are certain foods that provide a greater density in nutrition.
The benefits of superfoods—and which foods are deemed as such—comes down to the nutrients they provide.
Benefits of Superfoods: Why You Need Them for Good Health
In our modern environment, it can be hard to get enough quality nutrition from foods. We are surrounded by fast food restaurants, sugary drinks and artificial ingredients that are making us sick!
In contrast, superfoods provide many vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber to keep your whole system supported. Some even contain functional properties that go above and beyond standard nutrition. Eating superfoods regularly ensures you are getting the nutrition you need to thrive.
Superfoods Don’t Counteract a Poor Diet
Although superfoods can greatly enhance your diet, it’s not enough to eat junk the other 90% of the time. A healthy diet should be made up of mostly nutritionally-dense options like superfoods. That being said, adding a few superfoods into your diet at a time can help slowly crowd out the unhealthy foods.
Top Six Superfoods to Include in a Healthy Diet
And now, here are some of the top superfoods to start eating regularly and promote good health.
1. Whole Fruits and Vegetables
Okay, so this encompasses a lot more than one superfood. The point is that whole, organic plant foods provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals your body needs every day. So, start by adding more of these to your day.
Focus on vegetables like:
- Sweet potatoes
And fruits like:
- Berries: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries
- Citrus fruits
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that many people use as a superfood supplement. As far as the benefits of superfoods go, it looks pretty good.
Spirulina provides protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, and other nutrients. It may also contain antioxidant properties and help support the immune system. It’s easy to add spirulina powder to smoothies, vegetable juices, and soups or salads.
3. Fatty Fish
Omega-3s are important for brain health and fighting inflammation in the body. They have also been shown to support a healthy heart and lower cholesterol levels.
Fatty fish like salmon, herring, and trout are good sources of omega-3s, making them popular superfoods. If you are vegetarian, vegan, or just don’t eat fish, you can get omega-3s from:
- Chia seeds
- Or seaweed or algae
4. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are great plant-based sources of protein and fiber. Research has shown that beans may help reduce heart disease risk. Adding beans to any dish increases the overall nutrition while supporting heart and digestive health.
Start adding beans like garbanzo beans, black beans, kidney beans, or white beans to your meals. Green peas and lentils are also good options.
5. Nuts and Seeds
For further benefits of superfoods, include some nuts and seeds in your daily diet. Although they are calorie-rich, nuts and seeds provide healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Since they contain healthy monounsaturated fats, they may play a part in decreasing heart disease risk.
Enjoy nuts and seeds in:
- Or simply have a handful as a snack
Like spirulina, chlorella is a blue-green algae full of superfood benefits. Chlorella contains a high volume of protein, vitamin C, iron, omega-3s, and other vitamins and minerals. This high concentration of nutrition deems it worthy of superfood status.
Unlike many of the whole foods listed above, chlorella cannot be digested by the human body unless it’s taken as a supplement. You can find it in extract, powder, capsule, and tablet forms.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, most superfoods are commonly found in local grocery stores. If you’re worried about getting enough in your daily diet, taking a trusted supplement can help support a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you are not sure where to begin, start small by adding a few whole foods into your diet each week and working up from there.