By now you have probably heard the term super-food at some time or another. But many people don;t really know what it means or exactly what these foods do. Check out this guide to find out what makes them so special.
What is makes a super-food?
Anything you eat with a higher value in nutrition than available foods today qualifies as a super-food. Technically a well-made supplement is a super-food, but the term is generally used to describe fruits, vegetables, seeds, fungi, and even some meats. These are the attributes used to define them:
It's a whole food source (not refined or processed)
Has a high amount of micro-nutrients (vitamins, and minerals)
Has been linked to prevention or curing a specific condition or illness
Enhances physical or mental performance
Foods rich in anti-oxidants, omegas, or vitamins, are super-foods and will help you maintain your body as a well-functioning machine. This is not a scientific definition, though, so it's more a matter of opinion and agreement from people interested in health and wellness than a hard list.
Types of super-foods:
Berries are high in antioxidants called phytonutrients, which have been linked to dementia prevention
Avocados are full of healthy fatty acids which help with brain function. They are also high in fat and will keep you satisfied for longer, so they'll prevent you from snacking too much
Tomatoes contain high amounts of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and a difficult to get antioxidant named lycopene which protects against UV radiation
Goji berries contain vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin A, iron, selenium, and other antioxidants and have been linked to boosting brain activity and preventing heart disease
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower are rich in folic acid, vitamin C, and are also packed with antioxidants
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, collards, and mustard are rich in phytonutrients and have been linked to reducing the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. They are also packed with vitamins A, C, and K. The darker they are, the better
Beetroot is rich in nitrites, which improves circulation so much that athletes used it as a supplement for performance. It is also packed with iron, folic acid (as folate), magnesium, and other antioxidants
Garlic is rich in vitamins B6 and C as well as the minerals manganese and selenium. Its positive effects in blood circulation work a little bit like an aphrodisiac (but you may need a mint)
NUTS, SEEDS, AND GRAINS
Quinoa is a very reliable plant-based protein source and is one of the few which can provide all 9 essential amino acids the body needs from external sources
Chia has more healthy fatty acids than any other plant and they are a very high source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium
Walnuts are high in alpha-linoleic acid, which is linked to brain function. They are also a solid source of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation as well as biotin, manganese, and copper
Almonds are the most nutritionally-dense nut in terms of fiber, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin E
Oats are rich in fiber, so they help with healthy cholesterol levels and heart disease prevention. They are also a great source of potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants and have also been linked to reducing the risk for type-2 diabetes.
Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, are rich in omega fatty acids that help with brain function and B vitamins. Salmon is also rich in selenium, which prevents cell damage
Organic, grass-fed and free-range meat has been proven to be much more nutritionally dense than corn-fed beef and have lower levels of stress hormones. Ideally, you want to eat hunted meat, but that's unrealistic for most people. It's a sad truth for many, but there are no natural sources richer in nutrients than animal meat and beef is one of them
Oysters are super rich in zinc, which is a natural aphrodisiac
FLYING UNDER THE RADAR
Eggs, which are meant to be eaten whole, are one of the most complete food sources you can have. It’s a myth that eating egg white is healthy, half the protein and choline in the egg comes from the yolk. Eggs are also rich in phytonutrients and have been linked to reducing the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. They are also packed with vitamins A, C, and K. Keep in mind egg protein is best digested when cooked, the whole raw egg is a myth and will probably just get you salmonella at some point
Black beans are rich in protein, iron, fiber, and anti-oxidants. They are one of the most effective sources of protein from non-meat foods when paired with rice
Potatoes are so common that they often don’t get the right amount of recognition. They are everywhere, cheap, and not very glamorous. However, potatoes are so good that whole countries have survived on them only back when food sources were easily scarce at times. They are very high in potassium, magnesium, copper, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron,vitamin C, and will also keep you full for longer than most other carbohydrate sources. Additionally, potatoes are one of the few plant sources with all 9 essential amino acids in them and are best when eaten with the skin
Apples are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and K. They are also a good source of potassium manganese, and copper. The only caveat is that they're also great at absorbing pesticides in the skin so make sure to wipe them off first and give preference to organic options
Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and has shown to lower calorie intake when used in moderation as a snack
Coffee and matcha tea have no calories and provide energy because of a completely legal enhancing drug and nootropic called caffeine; not to mention they are also packed with anti-oxidants
Vanilla Ice-cream. Just don't have a bowl every day, but the choline in vanilla has been linked to dementia prevention. Vanilla is also a known source of calcium and animal fat helps vitamin and protein absorption. Yes, this one barely makes it into the list but thought it'd be fun to add. Here's a recipe for a semi-guiltless version
Use this list on your next shopping list and you learn how to use these healthy foods in your diet.
Eat well and stay strong!