Superfoods. This buzzword has been flying around the health and wellness community for quite some time, but what does it actually mean? What is a superfood? Are you eating superfoods but are unsure how exactly they are benefiting you? If these are the types of questions you have asked yourself, than this is the blog post for you!
When people talk about about a superfood, they are referring to the fact that this particular food is nutritionally-enriched with antioxidants, fiber, and good fats, and are exceptionally beneficial for one’s health and well-being. The term “superfoods” actually has been around for quite a while (some research shows around the year 1915), but the word did not start making headlines until the early 2000s, when the health and wellness revolution began.
There are literally hundreds of superfoods that we could tell you about, but will we narrow the list down to the most common foods that you might already be consuming. We will help educate you on their benefits and suggest some ways to incorporate them into your daily dietary regimen.
Avocados are fruits (yes fruits, not vegetables as assumed by many) that are packed with good fats, fiber, and vitamins C and K, and are staples in superfood world. Did you know that one cup of avocado has almost double the amount of potassium in a medium banana? Those leg cramps you might be experiencing at night time could be alleviated by incorporating 1 cup of sliced avocado a day vs a banana- plus you will avoid any unwanted additional sugars. “The avocado oil consists of 71% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and 16% saturated fatty acids (SFA), which helps to promote healthy blood lipid profiles and enhance the bioavailability of fat soluble vitamins and phytochemicals from the avocado or other fruits and vegetables, naturally low in fat, which are consumed with avocados.” (1) Not only do avocados have their own intrinsic benefits, they can help benefit the absorption of vitamins (hello vitamin D deficient patients!).
“And though she be but little, she is fierce”—Shakespeare
Now Shakespeare was not referring to blueberries when he wrote this line, but it’s a perfect reminder that, though the blueberry is little, it is most definitely fierce. Packed with disease-fighting, anti aging antioxidants and phytochemicals along with plenty of vitamins C and K, blueberries clinically are one of the prominent superfoods we have available to us. In 2005, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published a study which “systematically evaluated the bioactivities of phenolic compounds in rabbiteye blueberries and assessed their potential antiproliferation and apoptosis [cell death] induction effects using two colon cancer cell lines, HT-29 and Caco-2.” (2) The phenolic acid Anthocyanin showed a significant abruption of cell growth ( >50%!) and a 2-7 times increase in DNA breakup, thereby showing cell death. Overall, this study concluded that blueberries could play a part of decreasing colon cancer risk. Another study concluded that a diet enriched in blueberries showed a significant decrease and reversal of object recognition memory loss in aging rats. Now we are not saying to go out a place blueberries into every single meal (your gut would not be happy with us!), but we are suggesting that blueberries show a significant benefit in overall health and wellness.
We also encourage you to buy organic blueberries vs regular blueberries as this reduces the possibility of these powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals from being depleted due to harmful pesticides. Check out the Environmental Working Group list (3) on the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15” for more information on which foods you should buy organic and which ones you can go the conventional route with.
“The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week. Each serving is 3.5 ounce cooked, or about ¾ cup of flaked fish.” (4). Salmon is definitely the shining star of this group. A 3oz serving filet (wild caught always!) holds anywhere from 1.1-1.9 grams of omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHAs. These omega 3 fatty acids have been proven to sustain a healthy cardiovascular system, improve or provide a boost of sorts for the brain, and decrease overall inflammation due to arthritis or autoimmune diseases. The maximum dose for omega 3 fatty acids is 4000mg a day (or 4 grams a day), so one serving of salmon could be anywhere from 1/4-1/2 of your daily supply. In a study conducted by York University’s Department of Psychology in Toronto Canada (5), authors concluded that the use of omega 3s was a beneficial adjunct therapy in such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and painful menstrual cycles. We have various recipes that focus on the use of salmon including salmon filets meals, salmon cakes, and smoked salmon on top of dairy-free cream cheese and gluten-free crackers (one of Erin’s favorites!). Be sure to check our website tab “Recipes” for a new salmon meal invention!
These guys most definitely are a weakness for us. Pretty sure Erin and I are acai bowl addicts!! Acai bowls have become all the rage in the health and wellness community- for good reason! Acai berries promote healthy blood sugar levels, improve cognitive function (your memory!), and encourage good cholesterol changes. Word to the wise- when it comes to acai bowls, be aware of added sugars! When ordering an acai bowl asked questions about where the berries that they use come from and if there are sugars added into the acai bowl. Two of our local favorites, Bunkhouse Coffee Bar and Jaya Nutrition Bar, offer acai bowls without added sugars and allowed for us to continue consuming our treat during a recent Whole30 reset.
A nutritious veggie loaded with vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, sweet potatoes are the perfect side dish at any point in your day. Sweet potatoes are also jam-packed with vitamin A which is beneficial in fighting infections (immune system building!), keeping your eyes healthy, and decreasing overall inflammation. Not to mention, there are so many different ways that you can incorporate sweet potatoes into your daily regimen. We personally love making sweet potatoes chips. Slice the potatoes into chip sizes, brush avocado oil on both sides, dip into our original Mexican fiesta blend, bake, and viola….you have an amazing addition to breakfast, lunch, or dinner and can even use them as a snack by dipping them into fresh guacamole.
A GODFATHER to the Superfoods world, Kale most definitely is a top 3! Kale has gain publicity for its weight loss benefits and supply of micronutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K, and magnesium…basically the whole alphabet it seems. The benefits of kale range from cancer fighting to lowering bad cholesterol to protecting your eyes from chronic diseases. Kale really could have its own blog post by itself, but the major takeaway is this food is one of the greatest superfoods out there and it should be a daily staple for you. I personally enjoy kale shredded into smaller pieces and soaked in lemon juice as a salad bed or massaged with avocado oil and baked in the oven for yummy kale chips. I would suggest making this is an organic purchase as well to ensure that the powerful antioxidants and vitamins are not compromised by the use of pesticides.
Cinnamon really is not a food per say, rather an addition to the foods that we already enjoy. Cinnamon is high in antioxidants that have been proven to decrease fasting glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels (6). It also has been termed a “safe and effective treatment for dysmenorrhea [painful periods] in young women” as it reduces pain, menstrual bleeding, and nausea and vomiting associated with menses (7). You can incorporate cinnamon in various ways including adding it to greek yogurt, chai lattes, and yummy smoothies.
“Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein, and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin E, and various beneficial antioxidants” (8). A seed that we use in substitution of a grain, Quinoa has gained much popularity in the past decade as a protein packed, antioxidant loaded staple of the superfoods community. Vegans tend to turn to quinoa for its protein and iron benefits as these nutrients are vital in maintaining muscle mass, regulating menstrual cycles, and keeping energy levels up. Quinoa can be eaten on its own as a substitute to rice/any grain, or formed into patties for a burger-like meal. Not to mention it is super easy to make. It takes about 15-20 mins to cook and there are a plethora of recipes out there that help to intensify the taste of this amazing seed.
Did you know that 1 cup of sliced strawberries contains more vitamin C than 1 cup of a sectioned oranges?! Vitamin C is necessary to fight off infections, allows the body to repair wounds, and maintains healthy eye function. These are only a few of the many benefits of incorporating this powerful superfood into your every day diet. Strawberries also help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and aid in balancing your blood sugar, thus promoting weight loss. Strawberries are on the “Dirty Dozen” list so we do encourage you to buy organic varieties. You can buy either fresh or frozen. We enjoy strawberries in smoothies, topped on acai bowls, and by themselves!
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art” La Rochefoucauld
Like I said before, there are many more “superfoods” out there but the ones that I elaborated on tend to be the most popular. We encourage you to do your own research on superfoods and to discuss these options with your primary care provider to ensure that none have the potential to interact with your medications or medical conditions. Also, remember that too much of a good thing is not necessarily good, so proceed with caution when incorporating a new food into your dietary regimen. If you have any questions or want to further discuss the content of this post or any of the previous ones on our blog, don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time continue to Follow Your Gut