Superfood is nothing but a marketing term used for a specific food said to confer multiple health advantages resulting from its unique nutrient content. However, the term is very seldom used by nutritionists, dietitians and other experts, most of whom debate on the point that certain foods possess the purported health advantages claimed by their proponents. Such a “hyped” product as the acai berry is a perfect example of the usage of the term misused, and is a definite example of over marketing. Hence, it is important to understand the exact meaning and context of the term in relation to a healthy diet. If we find ourselves in a forum where such discussions take place quite often, it is safe to conclude that people are generally not very clear about the term and what it actually means.
In simple terms, superfood refers to any food that has been rated highly by the experts when it comes to overall nutritional quality. This is primarily because of the fact that the food industry is hungry for such products and is ready to invest millions of dollars in marketing such products as superfoods. Hence, nutritionists, dieticians and other experts feel that a comparison can be made that will prove that the food industry over-estimates the value of such products. As a result, such nutrient-rich foods are often labeled as superfoods. However, if we were to look at the nutritional composition of such superfoods objectively, it would become apparent that they fall short of meeting the requirements of our body for proper nutrition, and hence are a waste of money.
As far as nutrients are concerned, some foods can qualify as a superfood, but not so much when it comes to vitamin C or beta carotene, for instance. But then, many foods such as grapefruits and oranges can qualify as superfoods in terms of antioxidant content. So, what makes a food a superfood?
As far as antioxidants are concerned, fruits and vegetables rank very close to the top in terms of being regarded as good source of antioxidants. In fact, several studies have revealed that eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day can considerably reduce the risks of acquiring several kinds of cancer, including colon cancer. Moreover, experts have also found out that the superfoods can help reduce cholesterol levels. Fruits and vegetables also have high levels of dietary fibers, iron and magnesium. These are all important nutrients which help in providing proper nutrition to the human body, and hence, superfoods are available in great quantity in the market.
Vitamins – Superfoods provide adequate supply of vital vitamins and minerals to the body. The fruits and vegetables contain a high amount of vitamins A, C and E, and together, these vitamins form the superfoods that are perfect for providing excellent nutritional needs. Similarly, fruits and vegetables are also rich sources of dietary fibers, iron and calcium. Other minerals like zinc and selenium also form a perfect mix for ensuring optimal reproductive system of the body, immune system and overall health of the person.
Antioxidants – Superfoods also contain very high level of antioxidants. This is essential in providing adequate protection from the free radicals present in the body. Free radicals are formed due to exposure to environmental factors such as air pollution, ultraviolet rays of the sun, etc. Antioxidants help in fighting against these damaging elements, and hence, they play an important role in preventing the development of diseases and aging. Some fruits and vegetables contain high level of antioxidants, such as grapes, blueberries, cranberries, green leafy vegetables, prunes and blackberries. However, some other fruits like raisins, mangoes and watermelons do not possess the antioxidant properties.
Disease prevention – Some superfoods have also been found to possess several health properties that help in preventing several kinds of diseases. Some of them are; anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, etc. Some of the fruits and vegetables that also fall under this category are; broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, carrots, gourds, kale, mangos, olive leaf, sweet potatoes, turnips, kiwi, pineapple, rhubarb and others. Thus, using such natural and healthy ingredients can definitely improve your overall health.
There are many more superfoods that provide excellent nutritional value. However, people usually take them for granted and rarely give them any attention. It should be mentioned here that most of the fruits and vegetables have their own special health benefits that should be taken into consideration when choosing a food. This will help in improving one’s lifestyle.