Superfoods: What They Are and Why We Need Them

Guest post by Kristen Luft

There isn’t a food that is the key to perfect health, but superfoods– unprocessed, whole, and usually plant-based– are foods full of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, with powerful benefits to match. 

Though the term was initially used for marketing purposes instead of classifying a specific food group, ‘superfoods’ have risen in popularity for being nutritionally dense and having numerous health benefits.  

You may inherently know that eating fruits and vegetables is a great way to ensure you’re filling your nutritional needs each day, but just how important are they to our diet? Superfoods offer a little health protection with every bite, so it’s no wonder these foods are associated with the word ‘super.’ Today we’ll explore what exactly superfoods are, and why they are important to overall health and wellbeing. 

What’s in a name

The term ‘superfood’ is relatively new. No standard criteria or legal definitions classify any food as a superfood, instead, the term simply refers to foods that offer maximum nutritional benefits for minimal calories. 

Many fruits and vegetables fall under the ‘superfoods’ category, but foods like soy, salmon, garlic, beans, and even dark chocolate are also included on the list. 

It’s important to take note that superfoods are not cure-all foods, and don’t offer protection just because you add one or two to an otherwise unhealthy diet. You also aren’t exempt from gaining weight by just sticking to an unlimited superfoods diet. Superfoods work best when they are incorporated steadily into every meal, becoming a healthy habit like any other. A variety of superfoods in your diet can offer health benefits that decrease your risk of a variety of diseases.

Benefits of Superfoods

Incorporating superfoods into your diet is just one of the ways to reach your nutrient needs and help keep diseases at bay. Superfoods can help prevent heart disease and cancer thanks to their high content of antioxidants and flavonoids, which decrease inflammation and improve immunity. 

Antioxidants are powerful molecules that neutralize free radicals that have close links with many health problems including cancer, arthritis, stroke, and more. They are found in lots of fruits, especially berries, so take advantage of summertime and stock up on your in-season antioxidants! 

The fiber content in superfoods can help prevent diabetes and digestive problems, as well as help you maintain a healthy weight. High amounts of iron and potassium are found in leafy greens, while many teas offer anti-carcinogenic and stress-relieving properties.

It’s no wonder these foods are referred to as “super” when they’re overflowing with healthy benefits for your body! 

Incorporating Superfoods into Your Meals

Now you may be wondering how exactly to create a healthy diet around superfoods. It’s easier than you think! There’s no need to overspend or search widely to find great superfoods. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it has to be hard to find. Many superfoods are easily accessible and can be found at your local grocery store. 

Here are a few tips to help you include superfoods into your diet. 

  • Add color to your plate!
    • Fruits and vegetables offer so many important nutrients, and looking at color as a rule of thumb for checking the healthiness of your plate is one way to remind yourself to add a superfood! There’s rarely a lack of color (and nutrients) if you’re choosing healthy foods. Try bright green kale, orange sweet potato, or red strawberries as an addition to your next meal!
  • Add healthier snacks
    • Curb your 3pm slump with nuts and dried fruit instead of chips! It’ll give you more energy to sustain your day and is a better unprocessed alternative to popular crunchy or chewy snacks. 
  • Incorporate fish and plant-based alternatives one day a week
    • Replacing your consumption of meat with meat alternatives like salmon or tofu once a week not only changes up your usual recipes, but adds different kinds of cardiovascular-healthy nutrients– like omega-3 fatty acid.                 

If you find yourself wanting more creative ways to adjust your nutritional habits, you can even find a health coach to help guide you through the best diet for you to achieve optimal wellness. 

Being more health-conscious allows you the freedom to try new things and add what you like best to your diet. Let this be a chance to explore foods you’ve never tried before. Superfoods are by no means ‘magic’ or ‘cures,’ but they do offer health benefits that can decrease your risk of different chronic illnesses and improve your general health. The best part? There’s quite a few superfoods you’re bound to love. 

Enjoy exploring! 

Kristen Luft is a digital marketer, working on health-centered blog posts for the Wellistic community. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, snuggling her greyhound or chihuahua, or following the latest trends on Instagram.