Superfoods: What are they and what makes them SUPER?

July 29, 2014

By: Lacey Thacker

Superfoods are all the rage, and have been for quite some time. We’re pretty sure we should be eating them on a regular, or even daily, basis. Despite their popularity, the question remains: What exactly is a superfood?

A superfood is food exceptionally high in nutrients or antioxidants. These foods supply a large amount of something good for us in a relatively small amount of food. Take chocolate, for example: research has recently indicated it has, in cold-pressed varieties, more anti-oxidants per serving than most fruit juices, including blueberry and acai.

With the multitude of temptations around, it’s often hard to resist trying out at least one or two. When our bellies are full of treats, it’s difficult to get in our full serving of fruits and vegetables each day. Additionally, due to over farming and lack of proper crop rotation, many foods have lost significant percentages of the nutrient value they had several decades ago, so we have to eat more than we would have then to get the same nutrients. Eating nutrient-rich foods can help mitigate the slight nutrient loss.

Given the above information, you may be wondering what are good options before or after the gym. Not to worry—awareness about the issue just creates an excuse to eat more superfoods! After all, who wouldn’t want an excuse to eat chocolate, berries, seeds, or sauerkraut?

My personal favorite pre-gym snack is an omelet with a couple of large handfuls of spinach (one of the highest protein values in vegetables, good source of fiber, and some great antioxidants) with, of course, an egg (loaded with the carotenoids that protect the eyes).

Another solid choice includes the ever-popular smoothie. I love berries, and I love chocolate, so I’ve created the following snack to get me through the morning: two cups full of berries (blueberry and strawberry are great choices, though some people use blackberries or even raspberries), three or four tablespoons of cold-processed dark chocolate powder, a smidge of orange juice, and some ice. Blend together and you have a sweet, low glycemic, high antioxidant beverage to get you to the office.

Some other superfoods that might surprise you include:

Chia Seeds: More calcium than milk and more Omega-3’s than salmon

Coconut Oil: Heart healthy, helps balance blood sugar, and protects against viruses and bacteria

Beets: Their beautiful color comes from the huge amount of cancer-fighting nutrients in this root veggie

We are lucky to live on a planet with such variety of food. Though sometimes it may seem hard to consume the amount of nutrients we need through healthy foods, it is, in fact, quite easy when we take into account the availability of superfoods. Next time you need a nutrient-rich snack or meal, pause a moment, search your cabinets, and see what choices you have at home—I bet you already have more than you think!

Sources:

Surprising Superfoods: http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/dr-ozs-10-favorite-superfoods?gallery=true&page=9

Research on chocolate:

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20110207/is-chocolate-the-next-super-food

Loss of nutrients in food:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/