The term ‘superfood’ is not a necessarily a new one, but it is a term that’s gaining popularity, and for good reason, too. There is yet no clear guideline to define exactly what qualifies a food as ‘super,’ but according to The Oxford English dictionary, a superfood is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a food…that is rich in compounds…such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids…considered beneficial to a person’s health…superfoods increase energy and vitality, regulate cholesterol and blood pressure and may help to prevent or fight cancer and other diseases.”
There is, however, still somewhat of a debate amongst sceptics and critics as to whether or not any food should be labelled as ‘super.’ Some feel that by labelling certain food types as superior to others, consumers might tend to focus more on superfoods, neglecting other foods that are also nutrient-rich and vital to your health. This is of course a valid point. With any diet, balance is always key. While a diet high in superfoods is no doubt beneficial to your health and wellbeing, it can be equally fatal to neglect other food sources that are rich in nutrients which lack in certain superfoods.
Nevertheless, superfoods are richer in nutrients and antioxidants, and certain categories of superfoods have shown significant health benefits. Some superfoods like blueberries, for instance, which are rich in antioxidants can lower the risk of heart disease and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.
Other superfoods, like salmon, are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which have also been found to lower the risk of heart disease and regulate cholesterol levels. Some studies looking into the effects of omega 3 fatty acids in the treatment of cancer, ADHD and depression have also yielded promising results. While omega 3 is mostly prominent in fish, some plant foods, such as flaxseed, are also good sources of omega 3. Omega 3 also fights inflammation and promotes skin health.
Seaweed is another superfood high not only in Omega 3, but also important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, iodine, and zinc. Seaweed contains more Vitamin C than oranges and is also a good source of protein. And we all know how very lovely a piece of fresh salmon, rolled in rice and seaweed with a drizzle of lemon and soy sauce tastes. A true supersnack.
Another favourite, perhaps, is Quinoa. While falsely considered to be a cereal, the quinoa plant is actually closer related to spinach and beetroot species and is completely free of gluten. The edible seeds of the quinoa plant is extremely high in dense nutrients and is one of very few plant species to be considered a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids.
These superfoods are but to name a few. The list is quite extensive and is well worth researching to incorporate some of these nutrient dense foods into your diet to promote a healthy lifestyle, a healthy you.
Whether or not we should, or can, label these foods as super really isn’t the point, and the debate might perhaps be somewhat superfluous. It overshadows what really matters to us as food lovers: the food itself.