Despite all the hype, there are some foods you need in your diet for your best health. Seriously.
The love affair with “superfoods” appears to have cooled a bit in the last few years. Mainly because it seems a new one is discovered every week.
Why You Should Still Care about Superfoods
Most whole, natural foods have nutrients your body can use to create energy and power essential systems. Even some junk food offers minimal fuel (certainly not what your body needs!).
However, there are some foods and beverages that are labeled as “superfoods” by researchers and nutritionists. They’re different than normal whole foods because of what they contain and how your body uses them. They offer a powerful nutritional punch.
These are foods you need in your diet!
If a food is packed with antioxidants (substances that can prevent or delay some forms of cell damage), it’s considered a superfood. Some examples of antioxidants are beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, and vitamins A, C, and E. The most powerful antioxidants discovered to date are found in fruits, vegetables, and marine plants.
Your body can make some antioxidants but not all the ones it needs. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids can only be obtained through food and they’re critical to system health.Omega-3 fatty acids can only be obtained through food and they’re critical to system health. #SuperfoodsClick To Tweet
Antioxidants are scientifically proven to mop up free radicals (unstable mutated cells) inside your body. The natural process of oxidation causes these mutations to form as a by-product of digestion or exercise.
Researchers with the Department of Botany at Birla College – India broke it down. “A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function. If free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. Free radicals thus adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases.”
Oxidation is natural, free radicals form. When you get the foods you need in your diet, your body flushes those unstable cells and you’re good to go.
If your diet is lacking in essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, those cells will keep going, trying to steal molecules from healthy cells (making those cells unhealthy, too).
It’s time for a reality check (and many of you aren’t going to like it).
There are dietary supplements that can help you fill in “gaps” in your average nutrition (replacing vitamin D3 during winter months is an excellent example) but no supplement(s) can fully replace a healthy diet.
Your body needs real, whole food to function. Dependence on supplements might you a false sense of protection. Those multi-vitamins and protein shakes cannot (and should not) be used in place of actual healthy eating.
Beyond the Hype: The Truth about Superfoods
There’s so much noise on the internet and it can be hard to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Things have gotten overcomplicated but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are 7 superfoods that not only live up to the name, they’re also getting easier to find in local markets (even big box stores). I stayed away from ingredients I love but can only be found online or foods that are still pretty expensive no matter where you buy them.
- Coconut: Only a few foods in the world have the unique fats found in coconuts. Cupric and lauric acid are “medium” chain fatty acids that are different from omega-3s but just as healthy. They can help prevent heart disease, build up the immune system, and speed up your metabolism so you can burn fat and increase your energy. They’re a good source of protein and natural fiber, have zero starch, and give you the brain-healthy nutrient choline.
- Spirulina: This is considered the oldest food on Earth. It’s a blue-green algae that researchers have called the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. It has the richest source of vitamins, minerals, iron, protein, and a host of other energizing and detoxifying nutrients. One pound of spirulina has the nutritional potency of 1,000 pounds of assorted vegetables! This one is a favorite in health food stores or online and a little goes a long way in your morning shake.
- Avocado: The Aztecs called it the “alligator pear” and this is definitely a food you need in your diet. More than 70% of the oil in an avocado is made up of healthy fats, the kind best suited for reducing cholesterol buildup on arterial walls. Avocados are rich in B vitamins and some C and E, and contain 60% more potassium than the banana.
- Acai: These berries have gotten a lot of attention in the media. As many times as they’ve been mentioned, they’ve attained celebrity status. Acai are unique to other berries because in addition to the usual good stuff, they also have nineteen amino acids, an abundance of healthy fatty acids, and beta-sitosterol, a compound that helps protect the prostate gland.
- Cacao: This seed that turns into chocolate is the source of one of the world’s best sources of theobromine, an alkaloid. Alkaloids have remarkable similarities to human neurotransmitters like serotonin and acetylcholine, which have a positive effect on your mood and memory. Research shows it also helps relax muscle in blood vessels and may have a positive effect on lowering your blood pressure.
- Chia seeds: First used by the ancient Mayan civilization, chia seeds are ridiculously rich in protein, fatty acids, calcium, potassium, and iron. They help you feel fuller, longer so they’re a great addition to morning shakes or if you know you’re going to be late eating. These used to be harder to find (and a lot more expensive) but now they’re buyable in bulk from box stores!
- Royal jelly: This one is my wild card. Royal jelly is 50% protein and contains 17 amino acids (including 8 essential ones), potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, manganese, silicon, vitamins C, A, D, E, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, and niacin. It’s also one of the few foods in nature that has vitamin B12, which is essential for brain function and energy. Compounds like aspimin stimulate the production of white blood cells (your immune army). Royal jelly also has a fatty acid called 10-Hydroxy-2-Decenoic Acid (10-HDA) and it’s the only place you’ll find it. Experts believe 10-HDA is responsible for the queen bee’s (40 times) longer lifespan. It’s a little harder to find (but so worth it)!
Staying healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. It might seem like solving a puzzle on the daily but it’s really simple if you break it down.Did you know, acai berries have over nineteen amino acids! #AcaiBerries #FoodForThought #SuperfoodsClick To Tweet
3 Tips for True Health (Simply)
- You gotta move at least a little every day! No matter how much you might hate it, you need to move. Your lymph system is key to flushing toxins and it only works with movement and deep breathing. Even 20 minutes of low-impact exercise can make a huge impact.
- Get the sleep your body needs without apology! I can’t stress this enough…you need to sleep. Your body can’t heal damaged tissue (and make new stuff) if you run it ragged almost around the clock. You really do need 8 hours a night (or more) to keep your body humming.
- Eat a diverse selection of antioxidants! Know the foods you need in your diet and your body. We have some incredible resources here on our website. You’ll find the greatest abundance in fruits, vegetables, marine plants, and eggs (if your lifestyle permits). If you have “gaps” – make sure you supplement with a quality product.
The superfood hype might have faded a bit over the past few years. Your body’s need for these foods in your diet hasn’t changed. Take a look at your meal plans and see if adding a few delicious, nutritious superfoods might be just the thing you’ve been missing!Your body needs superfoods to function properly. #FoodsForYourDiet #SuperfoodsClick To Tweet