When and How Does Food Become a Superfood?
You’ve likely seen news stories, or read articles on the Internet, proclaiming yet another superfood in a growing list of superfoods. But are you truly aware of what and why a particular food item suddenly receives this prestigious classification. When does a food become a superfood, and what makes it so wonderful as to elevate its status above other foods?
The answer typically lies within the large amount of healthy and healing properties a particular food may contain and impart to those who consume them. As researchers learn more about specific foods, we discover that some are much more healthy than we originally realized, and can be extremely beneficial to our health and in areas of disease prevention.
To further clarify, the term “superfood” isn’t really an official label, like the “USDA Certified Organic” label. And it seems that every day, another news story emerges claiming something as the next big superfood. So how do we know what really is a superfood, and whether or not it should be included as part of our regular diet?
Superfoods: What Are They, Really?
A superfood can essentially be classified as any food item that contains an extremely dense concentration of vital nutrients, vitamins and/or minerals, as well as antioxidants, good fats, healthy enzymes, or other healthy properties that help to treat, lower the risk of or prevent specific diseases and maladies.
There are certainly plenty of healthy foods available, such as fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, fish, grains, etc., but not all of them contain a truly abundant, rich, vibrant source of healthy properties. Those that do are the true superfoods.
Key Criteria That Makes Up a Superfood:
- Nutrients – a superfood must not only be an excellent source of nutrients, but should also possess a diverse array of them. This also includes phytonutrients, which are chemical compounds that improve various areas of health or the immune system.
- More Good, Less Bad – many healthy foods also sometimes contain unhealthy elements as well, such as calories, fat or cholesterol. Superfoods contain virtually none or absolutely none of the bad stuff; they should also be absent of toxins, hormones, artificial ingredients, pesticides, chemicals, food dyes, etc.
- Immune System Improvement or Disease Prevention – Most superfoods offer significant health benefits, such as lowering the risk of developing certain types of cancer, or helping to alleviate the symptoms of other maladies.
The Best Superfoods Commonly Found in Any Supermarket
You don’t need to go searching in pricey health food stores or unique markets to found superfoods—many are available right in your neighborhood grocery store. However, you should still take the time to ensure that the food is as healthy as possible. With fruit and vegetables, opt for organic, and with packaged foods, such as nuts, read the packaging to make sure that it is all natural and no additional ingredients have been added.
Fruits – most fruits are already high in antioxidants and vital nutrients. Fruits that may be considered superfoods that are easily available include most berries, such as blueberries and raspberries. Additionally, coconuts and coconut water, now sold almost everywhere, are a great superfood and an excellent energy alternative to sugary and chemical-filled sports drinks.
Other berries and fruits that may be harder to find in some areas include noni, acai and goji berries. If you can’t find the actual fruit, it may be easier to find the juice.
Vegetables – Nearly any green leafy vegetable can be considered a superfood, and there is no problem finding plenty of it in your local supermarket. From turnip greens, collard greens, spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli and others, you’ll be doing your body a great service if you consume more of these on a regular basis.
Honey – Honey is a wonderful superfood, but be very aware that not all honey you found in the supermarket is created equal. Most of the honey found in those little bear-shaped jars has had the pollen filtered out, and it’s the pollen that contains many of the healthy properties and nutrition your body desires. In fact, a very long list of name brand honeys contain no pollen at all, and may in fact contain other chemicals or antibiotics that don’t necessarily have to be on the label. Look for organic honey or natural honey purchased from local farms. Honey that is labeled as “raw honey” is usually a good indicator that it contains pollen.
Other superfoods that can be found in supermarkets include various herbs and spices, and also seaweeds, which are becoming more readily available and sold as a dry snack that can be sprinkled in soups and on salads, or just eaten right out of the bag.
“This article reflects the opinions of the author and those of any of the source articles and should not be misconstrued as medical advice. None of this information is evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.”