I recently conducted an experiment with smart drugs and the evidence was rather surprising. While many of these nootropics have proven benefits with minimal side effects, there is a lot more to gain from a modified diet. That being the case, I began researching some of the best superfoods known to man to determine how simply adding a few ingredients can change your life.
In addition to interviewing medical professionals, I journeyed to several countries across the globe to consult with locals. I believe that there is a lot of truth to be found in local food tradition, especially those which have stood the test of time. From Middle Eastern bazaars to South American villages, I spoke to countless food vendors, grandmothers, holistic healers, and doctors to find out exactly what are superfoods?
What Are Superfoods
While the term superfood is relatively modern, the idea behind the phrase has existed for millennia. As a diverse conglomerate of foods, herbs, and spices, superfoods are intended to help people achieve better health and even prevent diseases. There may not be an official definition of what makes something a superfood, though there are some clear contenders.
There’s an old saying that you are what you eat and I believe there is some truth to that. In truth, a balanced diet is able to do wonders for your mind and body. Nevertheless, you don’t have to subscribe to any one of the countless popular diets in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes, all you need is a little dietary optimization, which is where superfoods come in. This diverse collection of foods delivers an untold number of health benefits due to their high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Additionally, it should come to no surprise that superfoods have become a staple of the holistic nutrition movement. Holistic nutrition is a comprehensive healthy eating lifestyle which approaches the human body as an interconnected system as opposed to distinct units simply working together. Holistic nutrition is not just about dieting; it aims to provide the mind and body with the necessary vitamins and minerals required for peak performance and well-being.
Unlike many other diets, the holistic plan focuses more on what you do eat, as opposed to what you shouldn’t. In addition to maintaining proper levels of macronutrients, micronutrients, and fiber, holistic nutrition is also often paired with nutritional supplements and holistic healing practices such as acupuncture.
As the name suggests, holistic nutrition is intended to provide complete well-being, which includes higher energy levels and emotional stability. Similarly, the holistic approach is founded on the idea that physical disorders and diseases are an outgrowth of an internal imbalance. By enriching the body with the necessary elements, holistic nutrition aspires to heal the mind, body, and soul.
You may find yourself asking what are the best superfoods? Well, the answer depends on what you need. For instance, some superfoods are demonstrably better for protecting against aging, while others are particularly adept at aiding weight loss. The truth is that there is no one superfood that can do it all. The best course of action is to diversify and include a variety of these into your diet.
I wanted to start my list with salmon because fatty fish are loaded with one of the most fundamental nutrients found in nature: omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to promising protective immunity, these fatty acids are remarkably influential on minimizing inflammation and promoting brain health. In fact, many researchers are looking to omega-3 fatty acids to treat several neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
While there are plenty of omega-3 supplements available, there are plenty of common and delicious foods that are rich in the essential nutrient. For instance, canola oil, wild rice, eggs, walnuts, and cold-water fish are all packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their cancer-fighting properties and can also effectively treat inflammation. The common nutrient also can work wonders removing toxins from the skin and body, ultimately allowing the body to attract moisture and healthier and more radiant.
Cinnamon is one of the most underrated superfoods out there that has so much to offer. Besides for being a delicious and versatile spice, cinnamon is loaded with several essential nutrients, including iron, calcium, manganese, and even dietary fiber. Recent medical trials have begun to investigate cinnamon as a potential treatment for several widespread health conditions, like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, and arthritis.
Most of us could probably use more energy to get through the day and adding iron-rich cinnamon can do just that. As the nutrient most closely associated with fatigue, adding iron to your diet can effectively give you a much-needed energy boost and help lower stress levels.
Flaxseed is a superfood gaining popularity around the world and for good reason. The nutrient-rich edible seeds have been used for millennia to treat a variety of ailments, though the medical field is only beginning to unlock its many capabilities. Recent studies have started to discover the curative properties of flaxseed, particularly in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
In addition to its high antioxidant content, flaxseed is also rich in protein, fiber, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and manganese.
Besides for regulating your digestive health and making you feel full for longer, fiber is also a key player in fighting inflammation. Fiber’s anti-inflammatory properties not only help combat obesity, but they also work to effectively minimize the effects of arthritis.
While doctors previously believed fiber itself was the cause of these benefits, modern theories suggest that it’s actually thanks to gastrointestinal bacteria living in the intestinal microbiome. In fact, fiber-rich foods like whole grain pasta, bananas, and barley promote lower levels of inflammation by feeding these beneficial bacteria. Furthermore, fiber-rich diets have been inversely associated with C-reactive proteins, which are ring-shaped proteins developed by the liver and act as inflammation markers in blood.
While the liver and intestines may seem unrelated, we now know that through enterohepatic circulation, fat-soluble waste is processed between these two organs. This seemingly innocuous task is actually extremely vital for the reprocessing of bile, the dark alkaline fluid that governs digestion. A diet lacking in fiber impedes enterohepatic circulation, which results in bile high in toxins, which ultimately leads to a variety of inflammatory diseases.
Surprisingly, coconuts are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Although coconuts are primarily known for their high fatty acid content, they also provide unparalleled defense against many harmful agents. In fact, studies have shown that coconuts possess strong anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-neoplastic, and anti-diabetic properties. Additionally, coconut oil aids short-term weight loss by stimulating metabolism, especially in post-menopausal women.
Wheatgrass is one of the lesser-known superfoods but offers tremendous health benefits. The antioxidant-rich food is processed from young sprouted wheat leaves and is most commonly used in juices and smoothies. Wheatgrass is most notable for its high levels of chlorophyll, though it’s also packed with vitamins C and E, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
However, recent clinical studies have found that wheatgrass can do way more than just give you extra energy. These in vitro studies discovered that wheatgrass can effectively eliminate cancer cells. Similarly, its high antioxidant concentration promotes strong immunity, something which researchers believe can be used to treat chemotherapy-related side effects.
When most people think of superfoods, avocados are probably the first thing that comes to mind. Avocados are jam-packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which offer countless medical benefits. Likewise, avocados are filled with antioxidants which can undue long-term oxidative stress associated with immunodeficiency, neurodegenerative diseases, and other serious conditions.
Avocado oil is a fun and healthy way to spice things up in the kitchen. Be it in salads, marinades, or even baked goods, avocado oil delivers unparalleled benefits, thanks to its high omega-3 fatty acid concentration.
But who said avocados are just for eating? Pure avocado oil is loaded with beneficial vitamins and antioxidants which work wonders to fight common signs of aging and even improve heart health. Premium avocado oil also makes a great massage oil which penetrates deep into the skin and hair, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Acai berries have been a staple superfood in Brazil for generations, but they’re only starting to take hold in America and Europe. As one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, these berries have shown remarkable skill in reducing the effect of oxidative stress, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and kidney failure. In addition to their high antioxidant concentration, these superfoods boast high levels of fiber, vitamin B, phosphorus, potassium, healthy fats, and magnesium.
The nutritional advantages of Goji berries have been known for millennia and have been utilized heavily in traditional Chinese medicine. Although they are known for their unmatched antioxidant concentration, goji berries also contain small but noteworthy levels of other vitamins and amino acids. In fact, these superfoods are now being studied to improve a wide variety of conditions, including obesity, aging, colitis, cardiovascular disease, lethargy, and even cancer.
Blueberries are one of the classic superfoods, commonly praised for their countless health benefits. They may be small but they pack a mighty punch. Blueberries are not only loaded with antioxidants, but they are also packed with phytochemicals and polyphenols, which have shown promise in preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
As many vegetarians and vegans know, almonds are one of the best meatless sources of protein, with over 20 grams per cup (grounded). However, these delicious tree nuts are also high in fiber and healthy fats. Additionally, as one of the most nutrient-dense nuts, almonds possess an unusually high concentration of vitamin E and calcium.
Kale is arguably the trendiest superfood on this list and is known for its wide variety of vitamins and minerals. The popular green is not only loaded with essential nutrients, but it is also shockingly low in carbs, calories, and fat. Moreover, the fat it does contain is primarily omega-3, so even that is good for you! Like any proper superfood, kale is a rich source of antioxidants, effectively protecting against oxidative stress, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and immunodeficiency.
Don’t let its name deceive you; broccoli rabe is a lot more similar to turnips than it is to broccoli. The bitter leafy green is one of the most impressive superfoods on this list, thanks to a high concentration of calcium, manganese, vitamins A, C, and K, and folate. The long antioxidant-rich stalks are best served sautéed and incorporated into your favorite dishes – I do not recommend eating them plain.
Spirulina is one of the more unusual superfoods on this list, particularly since it belongs to the algae family. Nevertheless, the dark green powder is one of the densest protein sources on Earth. Similarly, it wouldn’t be a true superfood if it wasn’t also packed with vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.
- Instead of taking on a rigorous diet, consider adding a few superfoods to your daily menu.
- Superfoods are generally characterized by an unusually high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- The potential benefits of superfoods are countless, though they are particularly influential in regulating immunity, heart health, brain health, aging, and preventing chronic disease.
Thank you for reading here at Glacier Wellness!