Superfoods – simple solution to many health problems
The food that we consume has varying effects on our health. Some foods are better for the body than others, and can even heal or cure. It would, therefore, not be wrong to classify these foods as superfoods even though the medical network has not yet introduced such a term for these foods.
Superfoods include foods that are obtained from plants as well as animals. A basic characteristic of superfoods is that they are rich in nutrients that are essential for the human body, i.e., they include antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and polyphenols that play a crucial role in the body’s metabolism and in general the health of cells.
One of the obvious benefits of superfoods is that they can reverse aging effects. This is essentially because of the minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, etc., that these foods have to offer. But the reason people consume such foods regularly is because such vitamins, minerals, etc., reach those parts of the body that indicate age, i.e., the hair, nails, eyes, and skin. It is an accepted fact that omega 3 acids are good for the skin by making it softer and increase its suppleness. Vitamin E also has a similar effect on the skin. Vitamins D and K are known to have a role in the health of the nails as well as hair. Similarly eyesight can improve with lutein.
Including superfoods in one’s diet is essential for those who want to lose weight. This is because these foods are low in calories and yet stuffed with the required nutritional value. Unlike the superfoods, the low calorie foods and drinks are also low in minerals and vitamins. Another advantage of superfoods for people wanting to lose weight is that these do kill hunger and make the person feel full. The low calorie foods and drinks leave the person hungry for more and eventually one ends up taking the usual number of calories by eating or drinking more of such foods.
The hunger suppression that happens because of superfoods is because the body receives all the nutrients it needs. Therefore, it sets its mechanism to indicate that no more eating is needed. Losing weight is essential because obesity can lead to many health problems, including coronary arterial diseases, brain stroke, diabetes, etc.
Diet supplements and their role as a healing agent
People usually take multivitamins and there can be many different tablets to be taken each day. Even so, there may be some mineral or vitamin that they run short of in their daily diet. With a single serving of these superfoods, it is possible to cover all those deficits. This justifies the regular inclusion of superfoods in our meals.
The reason these foods are rich in those vitamins and minerals is because they too need those vitamins and minerals for surviving. For example, in superfoods that are obtained from plants, flavonoids are present in abundant quantities. These plant metabolites are needed for the plant to prevent plant diseases and also to help the plant from recouping from any injuries or normal wear and tear. Some of these benefits are felt even by human cells. Similar antioxidants from superfoods not only stop the oxidation occurring within the cells but also reverse to some extent the impact of any oxidation that may have damaged the cells. Oxidants or free radicals are released in normal metabolic activity. These free radicals have a tendency to dismantle the cells because they can damage proteins forming the cells, lipids in the cells, and even DNA, thanks to their pursuit of electron. Such damaged cells lead to many health problems some of which are as serious as cancers. Antioxidants annihilate these free radicals or oxidants.
Including superfoods in one’s regular diet is therefore like including medicines in a diet. If the diet includes an adequate amount of these superfoods, in every meal, the body will become better equipped at healing and the immune system will be strengthened for combating any infections or other auto immune diseases. Therefore, make it a point to include superfoods in your regular diet.
Some of these superfoods are found almost everywhere, whereas others can only be found in some remote corners of the planet. Let us take a look at them.
Superfoods that are easily available:
Among the various vegetables and fruits, the following have more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc., and therefore, they are considered as superfoods.
1. Green vegetables
For a long time dieticians have been asking people to use green vegetables regularly in their diet, but their recommendation was for the purpose of obtaining iron from these veggies. But green vegetables have many other minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, selenium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc, which are important for the physical as well as the mental health of human beings. Similarly, these vegetables are good sources of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, K, E, and Niacin, all of which prevent some nutrition related diseases, and have a role to play in the well being of the person.
Most people think of kale and spinach when they think of green vegetables. But there are many others that qualify such as Swiss chard, celery, green cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables are low in calories and high in antioxidants.
Apples are rich sources of Vitamins A, C, and potassium. But the best part is apples contain natural sugar. When the body receives its share of sugars, it does not trigger any indications for consuming some sugars. Apples’ fibers tend to fill the stomach and reduce appetite. The peel of apples is made up of insoluble fiber. In the meat of this fruit there is pectin, which is a soluble fiber. Together, these fibers improve bowel movements as well. But what matters is when the apple is eaten. Apples need to be eaten before the meal and not after the meal. In fact, it needs to be consumed at least fifteen minutes before beginning the meal if the objective is to bring down the consumption of calories. It is also recommended to drink one glass full of water along with the apple at such time.
Like apples, natural sugars are present in berries as well, so they not only reduce the sugar concentration in the body but also reduce the urge to eat some sugars. Berries are also rich in antioxidants. In fact, blueberries are recommended for cancer patients as these have anthocyanins. Studies show that this antioxidant is powerful enough to kill even cancerous cells, effectively proving to be a natural remedy for cancers.
For a vegetarian, there are few sources of adequate quantities of Omega – 3 fatty acids. Avocados happen to be one of them. Omega – 3 fatty acids are life savers for the elderly because they reduce joint pains. But there are many other treatments for which these acids can be used such as osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, memory loss, cancers, etc. Avocados have almost double the amount of potassium when compared to bananas. In all there are 20 essential nutrients in this single fruit. In so far as vitamins are concerned, this fruit has ample vitamin C, E, and folic acid. One property of avocado that cannot be ignored is its help in absorbing antioxidants, as well as vitamins that are present in other food that has been consumed. In general, beta carotenes and lutein are hard to absorb. Avocados also bring down cholesterol.
Among the list of animal products that qualify as superfoods, the following four are easy to add to your diet:
1. Dairy products that are low in fat
All dairy products are rich in calcium as well as vitamin D. Both of these are essential for the bones. When it comes to building muscles, ricotta cheese is found to be ideal.
Marine food like shell fish, salmon, and shrimps are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. But the microalgae consumed by them leaves them with ample astaxanthin. The pink colored carotenoid from microalgae in sea food, is an extremely effective antioxidant. This antioxidant was used by the algae to prevent damage caused by ultraviolet rays.
3. Lean meats
Not all meats qualify as superfoods. But some do. For example chicken breast, or even pork loin. Beef loin is generally considered to be free from fat. These superfoods provide proteins and amino acids, which are essential for muscle building. These meats also have Vitamin B, as well as iron. These vitamins, along with iron, are responsible for enabling the blood to carry sufficient amounts of oxygen, which in turn makes the person feel energetic.
Contrary to previous reports, eggs do not increase cholesterol levels. The other reason for eggs to be in this list is the fact that they have many antioxidants and vitamins, including xeanthaxin, lutein, and Vitamin B12.
Apart from the above two categories, there is one more category of commonly found superfoods. This list includes:
1. Nuts, seeds.
Nuts are rather high in calories. But nuts and seeds are quite good at reducing belly fat. However, only a handful of them should be eaten each day for the desired results. The fatty acids in this category of superfoods are rarely bad.
2. Whole grains
Conventional foods like bread, rice and pasta are not good for health. If instead whole wheat breads, or oatmeal could be included in the diet, it would be a healthy meal indeed because of the avenanthremide in oatmeal. This compound is a highly potent antioxidant. Oatmeal also has good fiber which brings down problems with bowel movements. During the process bad cholesterol is sent out and good cholesterol is retained.
This is a large category by itself. Split beans, lentils, and many varieties of beans come under this category. These are rich in proteins and vitamins. They also have minerals such as magnesium and zinc. The fibrous nature is good for bowel movement. But care needs to be taken to keep these free from fats as well as sugars.
Superfoods that cannot grow everywhere
The list of these superfoods includes:
- Coconut water
Coconut water is used for hydrating the body. It contains many electrolytes that the body needs. Cytokinins in this water prevent aging. Vitamin B present in coconut water gives the required energy.
- Goji Berries
These are Chinese in origin and believed to have plenty of healing properties according to ancient Chinese medicine.
- Acai Berries
These berries are obtained from Amazon rainforests. These berries are considered superfoods because they have very high quantities of antioxidants in them.
- Sea weed
The most desirable compound in seaweeds is flucoxantin. It is a caretonoid. This carotenoid is very good for improving the immune system.
Cacao have a special variety of flavinoids. There are many benefits from this variety of flavinoids such as prevention of cardiovascular problems, prevention of blood clotting, lowering high blood pressure, etc. It can also bring down any blood vessel inflammations.
This is essentially an Asian plant. Its bark, fruits, and rind are used for treating problems such as UTI, diarrhea, and menstrual problems.
This is actually a preparation. It is a drink made from fermented milk. However, some grains of bacteria or yeast are added to get this superfood. These yeasts and bacteria are good for the health because they improve the immune system and simultaneously clean up colon.
While superfoods are indeed rich in vitamins, minerals, and different types of antioxidants, the fact remains that they cannot be used as a substitute for an entire meal. The nutritional content varies in superfoods. But it is possible to develop a menu card for each day, listing the total vitamins and mineral requirements each day, and adding up those with permutations and combinations of various vegetables, fruits, animal products, and grains.