What Are Superfoods & Why Are They Super Important To Your Health?

What Are Superfoods & Why Are They Super Important To Your Health?

Not all “healthy foods” are created equal, which is why “superfoods” stand above the rest. 

While we all know that a salad, loaded with fresh veggies and grilled chicken is far better than a hamburger and fries from your local fast-food chain, or yogurt with fruit is a healthier option to satisfy your sweet tooth, versus an ice cream sundae; how does what we consider a “healthy food” compare to “superfoods”?

What Are “Superfoods”?

Healthy food hits “superfoods” status when it provides:

  • High levels of nutrients;
  • Is connected to preventing illness and disease, or;
  • Is thought to provide a number of health benefits when consumed (beyond what is expected, based on its nutritional compound). 

In fact, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “superfoods” as foods rich in compounds (i.e., fiber, fatty acids, or antioxidants) thought to be beneficial to an individual’s health

While superfoods have different nutritional values, overall, their benefits are linked to:

  • Helping build a strong immune system.
  • Heart health.
  • Prevention of diseases like cancer.
  • Decreasing inflammation.
  • Reducing cholesterol. 

What Makes A “Superfood” A “Superfood”

While superfoods are healthy, not all healthy foods fall under the “superfoods” label. Specifically, superfoods tend to have higher levels of:

  • Antioxidants: Organic compounds that protect cells from getting damaged and can decrease the chances of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses or disorders.
  • Minerals: Such as calcium, iron, potassium, and other essential nutrients that help your body function at its optimum level.
  • Vitamins: While supplements are great for getting much-needed vitamins, consuming them organically through foods is a better option.

Superfoods can also be rich in:

  • Fiber: This helps reduce cholesterol, controls glucose levels in Type 2 diabetes, and prevents heart disease.
  • Healthy Fats: Also referred to as “good fats” (i.e., monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), which help reduce cholesterol to prevent strokes and heart disease.
  • Flavonoids: They have anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties and are found in plants. 

What Foods Are Considered “Superfoods”

The majority of superfoods come from plants, still, some dairy and fish options are also placed under the “superfoods” umbrella. Below are some popular examples:

Avocado

Interestingly enough, this fruit contains more potassium than bananas and is rich in monounsaturated fats. Avocado toast has become a favorite breakfast option for many reasons, one of which, it offers tremendous health benefits and is a yummy way to start off your day!

Berries

According to research, berries decrease the chances of cardiovascular diseases. They offer a high level of flavonoids, and the following berries fall into the “superfoods” spectrum:

  • Blueberries
  • Acai berries
  • Cranberries
  • Raspberries
  • Goji berries
  • Tart cherries

Chia Seeds

Originating from flowering plants found in Guatemala and Mexico, they are a great source of antioxidants, proteins, and fibers, as well as minerals and vitamins like zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. They can be sprinkled in smoothies, salads, and even yogurt.

Cinnamon

The smell of cinnamon can be a comforting aroma for many, and a flavorful spice to add to any dessert; however, the health benefits it offers are plentiful by reducing not only cholesterol, but blood sugar levels, and inflammation, too. 

Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens are jam-packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as vitamin K, which is excellent for bone health, as well as heart health. There are a number of leafy greens that fall into the “superfoods category”, some include:

  • Arugula
  • Bok Choy
  • Beet greens
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli raab
  • Dandelion greens
  • Microgreens
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Watercress
  • Turnip greens

Garlic

It not only works as an anti-inflammatory, boosts your immune system, and is beneficial to your heart health, but it also kickstarts the flavor of any dish it is added to. Still, raw garlic is far healthier than when it is cooked; however, black garlic, fermented over time, is the best health option as it is filled with antioxidants.

Pumpkin

Not just for decoration during Halloween and Thanksgiving, pumpkins are high in zeaxanthin and lutein antioxidants that protect the eyes from aging issues like cataracts and macular degeneration. In addition, they are loaded with potassium, which helps with heart disease.

Salmon

A great source of protein, this fish favorite is also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces the risk of heart disease.

Yogurt 

This tasty treat is filled with probiotics (good bacteria), which promotes gut health. Still, yogurt is also an excellent source of protein and calcium, which helps stimulate your immune system and prevents cancer. 

At SwiftSlim we not only help our patients with their weight loss goals, but we also promote and help them form positive and healthy habits. You’ll not only lose those unwanted pounds but also establish a firm foundation for a brand-new lifestyle.
Ready to lose weight and keep it off for good? To schedule a consultation, click here.

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