Lately we’ve all been hearing about certain foods which are called super foods. Have u heard of blueberries, acai berries, goji berries and the whole lot which are being more main stream today as they are being hailed as super foods. So what is so super about them that they are called “Super Foods”
What are Super foods?
They are foods that are nutritionally very dense. i.e. they have high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants and are helpful in preventing, healing and sometimes even curing specific diseases and maladies.
It’s no secret that what we eat affects how we feel both emotionally and physically. So its really important to feed ourselves with the right foods to fuel our body for optimal health. Although pretty much any plant based food contains various nutrients that support health and wellbeing, Super Foods go a notch higher in turbo charging our body for greater leaps in wellbeing especially when consumed on a regular basis.
What are the criteria for Selection?
Though there is no defined criteria for a super food, the common prevailing theme amongst all foods considered today as super foods are:
- They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in a readily available state.
- High in phytonutrients and antioxidant components
- Lower in calorie density i.e. you can eat a lot of them and yet the no. of calories is very less.
Examples of Super Foods:
Depending on who you ask, the list of superfoods you come across will be many and varying. In this article, i will share with you specific super foods for specific areas of health improvement.
Super Foods for Super Skin:
Some of the key ingredients required for a good skin texture are: Vitamin A, Antioxidants, Essential Fatty Acids, Healthy Oils, Selenium and most important Water.
- Yoghurt – Since it’s not only high in Vitamin A but also contains Acidopholis which is the “live bacteria” that is good for intestinal health
- Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and plums – The benefits of these foods for healthy skin are plentiful. The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in these fruits can protect the skin cells, so there is less chance for damage. This in turn guards against premature aging, and keeps skin looking younger longer.
- Walnuts, Flax Seed Oil and Canola Oil – Are all great sources of EFA’s ( Essential Fatty Acids ) EFAs keep cell membranes healthy, and allow nutrients to pass through.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – Most cold pressed virgin oils are great for keeping the skin lubricated, and looking and feeling healthier overall. ( We only need about 2 tsps a day )
- Brazil Nuts – this yummy nut has high amounts of selenium which is great for the health of skin cells. Recent studies show that if selenium levels are high, even skin damaged by the sun may only suffer minimal, if any, damage
- Water – plays such an important role in your overall health, and it has a profound effect on your skin’s health as well. Well-hydrated skin is healthy and young-looking. It also helps move the toxins out of your system so they have less chance to do damage.
Super foods for Super Bones:
The pH Balance of your blood is very important for good Bone Health. The common belief of the cause of Osteoporis is that there is a deficiency in calcium. Though that may be right literally, the real picture is that when the blood pH is acidic, your body tries to use any calcium and magesium it can find ( usually from the bones ) to bring the blood pH back into balance ( this is b’se calcium and magnesium are alkalizing minerals )
Therefore, with every soft drink, candy, cake and goodie you indulge in, you are robbing your skeleton of its bone density. The calcium and magnesium the body harvests in an attempt to counteract this acidic environment gets passed through your kidneys, where it can also contribute to kidney stones and exits your body through your urine.
Some superfoods that can help your body maintain a good pH balance are:
- Brocolli, Cabbage, Celery and other dark leafy vegetables especially Kale.
- Sea Vegetables such as seaweed, and Kelp are also very alkalizing for the body
- Sprouts are the super easy super food choice we all can make daily.
Superfoods for squashing stress:
Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is a good start when life’s particularly stressful. Stimulants and depressants like these can both zap your energy and rob you of the fuel you need to successfully cope with tension. Sugary foods should also be avoided as well, as they cause your blood sugar levels to spike then dip rapidly, which can in turn make your energy levels spike and dip at the same rate.
Some superfoods that can give you the energy and nutrition to be able to cope with stress are:
- Asparagus – High in folic acid, it can help level out your moods. Folic Acid and B vitamins are really good for the production of the good mood chemical seratonin in the brain.
- Almonds – Another great choice when it comes to arming yourself against stress. They’re high in magnesium, zinc, as well as vitamins B2, C, and E and unsaturated fats, all which are great warriors against free radicals, which have been shown to cause cancers and heart disease.
Superfoods for healthy hair:
Good hair nutrition begins with getting enough protein, which is the building block of your hair. Then you need complex carbohydrates to help assemble the proteins for hair growth. Other important vitamins and minerals include B complex, which is associated with energy production and building good hair and skin issues, folic acid, B12, and zinc. Foods include:
- Green Beans – They contain a mineral called silicon which is known to help grow longer and thicker hair. A study found that Consuming about 100 mcg of silicon daily for 20 weeks resulted in participants having stronger nails and hair in 20 weeks time
- Pumpkin Seeds – Contain good amounts of Zinc which is also great for hair health and cellular repair
- Nuts such as Almonds, Cashews, pecans and walnuts and many others. – Just having a handful of nuts daily will help to keep your hair healthy for years since they contain a variety of proteins, vitamins, minerals such as iron and zinc and phytonutrients as well as Health Essential Fatty Oils which help boost shine and fullness.
- Mangoes, Strawberries and Kiwis are also great b’se of their high Vitamin C content which is essential for the body to produce collagen which in turn gives structure to the hair.
Despite the fact that i’m breaking these down into various segments, when you eat any super food, you will experience overall improvements in health and wellness and not just in the segment mentioned above, so look for ways to cut out the junk and try to incorporate some of these superfoods into your daily diet. Your mind, body and spirit will all thank you for it.
A word of Caution:
Something to know is that currently there is no legal definition of the word super food and some marketers take advantage of this and use this word very freely when promoting their products. So its important for you to consider atleast these two things when selecting a food claimed to be a super food.
How close to its natural state is it in: If it’s in a processed food such as cereals, snacks packages etc, it may not really be potent if at any at all. The processing damages most of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and doesn’t contain any live enzymes either making it not so super any more.
The conditions in which the food has been produced and transported. i.e. something such as blueberries which is considered an amazing super food, will not really be so super when its not organic and sprayed with many preservaties to keep it looking good for longer.
So share your thoughts below on which super food you would like to try and the changes you experienced after trying them.