Superfoods are perhaps one of the more popular trends that has been going on in the world of food. But what exactly are superfoods and is there any criteria for determining them?
Superfoods have no official definition but it’s generally accepted to be any food which is extremely nutrient-rich and thus good for health. Blueberries, kale, salmon, avocados are generally what come to mind while thinking of superfoods.
Are Superfoods really that good?
Generally speaking, while these foods might be nutrient-dense the term ‘superfoods’ is considered to be more of a marketing hype, by most of the scientific community. The term was coined as a way to increase the hype around these foods and to also influence market trends.
Superfoods are in no way, a one food source for all of our nutrient needs. The body needs various nutrients and no single source can supply all of them.
Superfoods are generally plant-based, but also include certain varieties of fish and also dairy. Since the hype around them doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon, perhaps we should have a look at a few of the popular options:
Perhaps the most talked about member when mentioning superfoods, this small berry is an excellent source of vitamins, anthocyanins (which also give the berry its characteristic colour) and fiber.
Among vitamins, blueberries are especially rich in Vitamin K1 and Vitamin C. Vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone, is essential for blood-clotting and also helps in bone density.
Anthocyanins are found mainly in the skin of the berry, and thus consuming them with the skin is recommended. They are known to help improve heart health, reduce cholesterol and also help prevent premature aging.
Despite all of these benefits, blueberries may take the top spot only because it has been studied much more frequently.
One of the few animal-based sources, salmon is considered to be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower the chances of having a stroke or heart disease.
Salmon is also an excellent source of protein, the B-group vitamins, Vitamin D and also the antioxidant Astaxanthin which give the salmon its characteristic red colour. Astaxanthin reduces oxidation of LDL and increases HDL.
However, there have been several cases of mercury contamination found in this fish so it should be bought only from reputable sources.
3) Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables, especially kale, spinach, cabbages, swiss chards are all extremely fibre-dense and are full of vitamins, like Vitamin A, C and K.
In addition to this, they act as antioxidants which remove free radicals from the body before they become harmful. Carotenoids, found in dark green leafy vegetables can help prevent certain types of cancer like breast cancer, stomach cancer etc.
However, in order to help absorption all of these carotenoids and also the fat-soluble Vitamin K, it is recommended to consume them with a teaspoon of olive oil.
Avocados, the fruit of the millennials. They contain even more potassium than bananas. It also contains immense amounts of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin K, C, B5, folate and potassium. They do not contain any cholesterol or sodium.
Along with that, it also have a high fat content which help absorb nutrients from the plant foods, along with a high fiber content.
Zoya Chettri, Editor
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