Superfoods - what is a real superfood

They are everywhere. Superfoods. Their providers promise health benefits, longevity, beauty, youth… everything we desire. So how can you not take superfoods?

But what is a real superfood? Which properties make a superfood out of a common green that our grandparents had on a daily basis? What about all those “new” superfoods, we take from ancient cultures because they made them strong?

The aim of this article is to go through important properties a food should have, that we can call it a superfood. We will also mention foods that we think are worth the title and why.

First of all it is important to know that no single food will provide certain health benefits in your body. A balanced diet is the key. The same with superfoods. It has to be a mix of them to obtain the most benefits.

One way is to think about your goals and then try to find those superfoods that can help in this direction. For example a mix of foods with detoxifying properties, or if you lack energy you would opt for a mix of foods that are known as energy boosters.

However, there are no set criteria for determining what is and what is not a superfood. For a food to be super it should come with the following properties (at least this is our view):

Nutritional profile (macro and micronutrients)

Superfoods are nutrient dense. This means there are a lot of nutrients in a bit of the food with a low amount of calories. When it comes to calories we have to distinguish where the calories come from. In case of salmon, there are a lot of calories but they come from a load of healthy fats, so that’s a good thing. On the other hand a cheesecake may have the same amount of calories but coming from sugar and saturated bad fats, so not a good thing ( in very few occasions it can be fantastic though;)

  • Superfoods contain amounts that are close to our daily needs of different Vitamins & Minerals.
  • The fats that can be found in superfoods are healthy, unsaturated fats. Optimally with high amounts of omega 3 and out of them EPA and DHA.
  • Superfoods tend to have a high fiber content. Either soluble or insoluble fiber, which has a lot of health benefits and which nurtures our microbiome.
  • The naturally found sugar in superfoods isn’t a problem because of its high fiber content and other nutritional benefits they offer.
  • Superfoods are high in antioxidants and plant molecules like flavonoids, polyphenols etc.
  • There is solid scientific proof for the efficacy of the „ingredients“.
  • Organically grown: there’s no doubt that any superfood should be organically grown and if possible from sustainable farms/manufacturers.

Superfoods are available in different presentations:

  1. Real food: let’s take a superfood veggie as an example: kale. Kale provides all of the above mentioned properties to be a superfood. But there are some restrictions:
    1. Lately kale has been on the news because of its high pesticide content, so first of all its absolutely necessary to buy only organic kale.
    2. Kale isn’t everyone’s favorite when it comes to taste. It’s quite chewy when eaten raw.
    3. Preparing it takes some time: it has to be washed properly, in the leaves and all of its wrinkles there may be dirt or little insects hidden, that you don’t want to eat.

You may think that this is a bit of an exaggerated point of view. It isn’t. As a coach I know the excuses and „obstacles“ people come across when it comes to healthy eating. And this is one of them. Nevermind, lets carry on because there are either real food superfoods that are easier to prepare (like avocados for example) or easier presentations of superfoods.

  1. Powders:

The big advantage of superfood powders is that you can prepare a smoothie fast and easy. It takes you 2 minutes, you can have it on the go and you don’t have to clean up the kitchen.

Another advantage of superfood powders is that you can find mixes that contain different superfoods to boost the effect.

Superfood powders also have a weak point which is their taste: if you are looking for a tasty & CLEAN  superfood powder, I’m sorry but you probably won’t find one. I can assure you that any superfood powder that really tastes good is full of artificial sweeteners and aromas that would neutralize the superfood properties as our body has to deal and eliminate this „chemistry“. So it’s a waste of money.

So in this case the best option is to choose a clean superfood powder like our mixes and to use a tasty milk, like coconut milk to prepare your smoothy. Apart from the taste, coconut milk provides additional health benefits which is a win win situation.

  1. Supplements:

The perhaps easiest way to get those superfoods in. There are superfoods that really taste … awful. Let’s be honest. Algae’s (e.g. spirulina & chlorella) are an example. They have so many benefits for our body but their taste is quite special. The best way to take these kind of superfoods is as a tablet or capsule.

Top 10 Superfoods:

Our top ten superfoods and why we consider them as such. We decided to choose an alphabetical order, because they all have a lot of health benefits and they should be consumed in a mixed and balanced diet.

  1. Avocados:
    1. Rich in vitamin C, E, K, folate and pantothenic acid
    2. Packed with healthy fats (monounsaturated fats, omega 3 and omega 6)
    3. High fiber content
  2. Blueberries:
    1. Rich in Vitamin C, K and manganese
    2. Packed with antioxidants
  3. Cacao:
    1. Rich in protein
    2. High in iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and copper
    3. High antioxidant content
    4. Adds a lovely taste to smoothies, plain yogurts etc.
  4. Chia:
    1. High in omega 3 and omega 6
    2. Super high in fiber one of the best foods for our gut bacteria and for a healthy digestion
    3. Can be used as an egg substitute
  5. Dark green leafy veggies:
    1. Packed with vitamins A, C, K, calcium
    2. High fiber content
    3. High in antioxidants
    4. Cruciferous veggies like kale and broccoli have shown anti cancer properties
  6. Medicinal Mushrooms:
    1. Have shown anti cancer, anti inflammation and anti virus properties.
    2. Have ingredients that make skin look bright and youthful
    3. Can help athletes with fatigue
  7. Pomegranate:
    1. Tastes lovely ;)
    2. High in antioxidants and vitamin C
    3. High fiber content
    4. Anti cancer, anti arthritis  and memory protecting
  8. Quinoa:
    1. High in manganese, folate, magnesium, copper and zinc
    2. Flavonoids: quercetin and kaempferol - anti-inflammatory , anti viral, anti cancer and anti depressant
    3. High in fiber and protein & gluten free
  9. Salmon:
    1. A power house without a doubt and delicious on top
    2. Super high in EPA and DHA, the most beneficial omega 3s out there
    3. High in all B vitamins, potassium and selenium
    4. Perfect protein source
    5. High in antioxidants
  10. Spirulina:
    1. Antioxidant and anti inflammatory
    2. High in B vitamins and copper
    3. Super high in protein (perfect protein source for vegans)
    4. Gram for gram may be the single most nutritious food on the planet

As you can see there are many foods that earn the title superfood. And this list isn’t complete at all. Those are just some out of a lot.

Bottom line:

Superfoods are nutrient dense foods that provide a lot of health benefits. Choosing to eat superfoods can really help you to prevent or combat diseases or health issues. But it’s not just about eating superfoods. It’s also about deciding NOT to eat those who may really harm your body.