Are Superfoods Worth the Title?
You’ve probably heard of superfoods because, as you may have guessed, they’re trending. But what are superfoods? Are they worth the hype? And are they really all that super?
First Things First, What Do People Mean By Superfoods?
Superfoods typically refer to a variety of fruits, veggies, grains, and seeds that supposedly have superpowered health benefits and are packed with nutrients. Superfoods’ claim to fame is their out-of-this-world nutritional benefits. They’ve been trending in the last few years, and that trend is far from over. In fact, the next trendy superfoods are being predicted as you read this.
Foods given the moniker of “superfoods” have little to do with nutrition science and a lot to do with marketing. Although these foods have many health benefits, the term itself is little more than a buzzword. They are not a food group, they’re just great branding.
If you’re disappointed by the less-than-organic origin of superfoods, don’t stress. There are a lot of upsides to this buzzword-turned-trend because even if they are not scientifically considered a food group, and there’s no real metric for classifying a food as “super,” that doesn’t discredit the actual, measurable health benefits of many of these foods.
As a trend, superfoods have been encouraging many people to incorporate healthier foods into their diets, to learn more about the importance of macronutrients, and even to eat more plant-based foods! Those are some serious positives.
So what are some of these supposed superfoods? And how can you add them into your diet?
Dark Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach, and swiss chard are a few examples of leafy greens that are rich in nutrients like zinc, calcium, vitamin C, fiber, and even protein! Greens are one of the easiest foods to incorporate into your diet. A simple option is to swap out your typical salad greens like romaine or iceberg for a more nutritious counterpart. If you’re not big on the slightly bitter greens, try mixing them in with your romaine to lessen the taste. Dark leafy greens also make great additions to stir frys or even green juices, for one of the healthiest options.
As opposed to saturated fats that we’re typically warned away from, healthy fats are those foods which contain monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease. Heart-healthy fats include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and nuts.
An easy swap is cooking oil − ditch the vegetable or canola oil and try a healthy option like olive oil or coconut oil. The rich flavors of these oils will complement different cuisines and add a boost of nutrients to your meals. Avocado is probably the trendiest food of all time and you know what to do with it − put it on toast, blend it for a creamy smoothie, make guacamole, or even blend it with cocoa powder and stevia to make a healthier ice cream. Nuts like almonds or walnuts are rich in healthy fats, and make a great snack all on their own − or you could have a little fun and make your own nut butter at home!
Berries are beloved as a superfood for their antioxidant properties, and are packed with your daily vitamin and mineral needs. In studies, the antioxidants in berries have been shown to help reduce inflammation that can typically lead to heart disease and some cancers. Luckily, berries are sweet and delicious and come in so many varieties, it’s a joy to add them to your diet. Berries are refreshing in salad, super fast and easy in a fruit smoothie − what isn’t good in a smoothie? −, and indulgent on top of healthy desserts.
Believe it or not, grains are essential. Carbs are not the enemy, in fact, they’re an essential macronutrient. Grains like quinoa, brown rice, and farro are high in fiber, and have a higher protein content than many other carbs and starches. This means they’ll not only keep you full and satisfied, but provide a more complex range of nutrients and good-for-you vitamins and minerals. Swap your white rice for brown, or have a grain bowl with quinoa or farro instead of greens. Grains also make an excellent side to meat or fish, and work well in soups for that added bit of starch.
This one may surprise you. Fermented foods are hospitable environments for probiotics to flourish and thrive. Probiotics are amazing for gut health and digestion. You’re likely eating at least one fermented food regularly, because they’re so diverse. Yogurt, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso are all examples of fermented foods.
Yogurt is amazing not only for parfaits and smoothies, but also makes great dipping sauces, condiments, or salad dressings. Kombucha and kefir make great drink options to swap in occasionally in place of your typical tea, juice, or coffee. Kimchi and sauerkraut can be added into wraps for a punch of acid or spice. And miso is a great base for sauces, soups, and stir fry.
Although superfoods are not a food group in their own right, you can certainly learn from this trend of nutrient-rich foods and start incorporating more of them into your daily meals. And if you still have doubts on how to have a more well-rounded and balanced diet, we’re here to help.