When we think of things that we consider to be super, we often think of superheroes. While these marvels only exist in the minds of movie and comic book creators, we’ve got our own superheroes right here on Earth. Many of us consider our parents, our mentors, perhaps even our children as our superhereos as well.
The term superfood is used to describe our most amazing foods available to us, simply marvels in Nature among other normal foods. Using food as medicine, these superfoods top any list for their health promoting benefits. Superfoods are extremely nutrient rich foods that are touted for their extraordinary health benefits for a variety of different reasons.
Among the most desired effects of consuming more superfoods is for their anti-aging properties. Some even regard superfoods as the fountain of youth to help prevent illness encourage radiant looking skin, and potentially slow down the aging process.
Generally. superfoods will contain large quantities of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and mineral…all things that provide their own individual benefits to the body. Many also contain beneficial bacteria or health promoting forms of fiber. Among the most coveted superfoods are green tea, grapes, berries and cherries, nuts and seeds Brassica vegetables, tomatoes, avocados, kefir, medicinal mushrooms, edible seaweeds, and salmon, each a superfood in its own way.
Foods high in antioxidants like green tea, grapes, berries and cherries, and tomatoes help reduce the amounts of free radicals in the body. These superfoods can also help improve brain function, fat loss, and lower the risk of developing certain diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and anxiety.
Tomatoes are prized for their anti-aging properties, as studies show that its main antioxidant, lycopene, can protect the skin from harmful UV rays. Grapes, berries and cherries contain polyphenols, resveratrol and proanthocyanidins, which are other powerful antioxidants great to slow down the aging process. Resveratrol and pterostilbene are antioxidants of particular interest when it comes to anti-aging. The first human-safety study of pterostilbene was published in 2013, and investigations have intensified since then. Pterostilbene is now championed as a more potent form of resveratrol. It’s said to offer all of the previously known benefits of resveratrol but with superior bioavailability.
Omega fatty acids are found in foods like avocado, fish, and nuts and seeds. These beneficial fats help lower triglyceride levels in the body, can help mitigate the benefits of rheumatoid arthritis, and can even help with depression, asthma, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease, among many other healthy benefits.
Several studies were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2007 edition, which all concluded that in the elderly, a diet high in fish and fish products is associated with better cognitive performance in a dose-dependent manner. Maximum effect was observed at an average intake of ≈75 g/d (or 2.5 oz/day). And newer studies show the same results. In a 2017 study, higher fish intake was associated with slower decline in both overall cognition and memory. Consuming ≥4 servings/week versus <1 serving/week of fish was associated with a lower rate of memory decline.
Advancements in our studies of antioxidants like flavonoids, polyphenols, anthocyanidins and all the other beneficial phytochemicals still doesn’t change the basic fact that fish is one of nature’s premier anti-aging foods. Each ounce of salmon contains roughly 500 mg of omega-3. Most of us should consume a 4 oz portion yielding about 2000 mg of omega-3, ideally at least 3 times a week.
Probiotics are found naturally in the gut and are essential for optimal health. Fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, soft cheeses, sauerkraut, pickles, and even dark chocolate contain high levels of probiotics.
Probiotics help balance the flora in the digestive tract, which helps boost the immune system, improve digestive function and nutrient absorption, can help manage certain skin conditions like eczema, and can help to balance out your moods.
Brasssica (also known as cruciferous) vegetables contain unique sulphur containing compounds named glucosinolates, such as glucoraphanin and glucobrassicin. The glucosinolates are metabolized by our bodies into indoles and isothiocyanates. These sulphur compounds are tremendously helpful to maintain liver health, promote healthy detoxification from harmful chemicals, and may even protect us against certain types of cancer. Brassica vegetables include foods like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts.
Medicinal mushrooms contain beneficial compounds found nowhere else in Nature. Mushrooms such as white button, Shiitake, Reishi, Lion’s main, and Maitake contain powerful antioxidants, amino acids, and unique forms of fiber which can act as anti-inflammatory agents for your brain, super boost your immune system, and targets anti-again genes.
Edible seaweeds (red, green, and brown) are rich in vitamins and trace minerals, contain antioxidants such as fucoxanthin to protect your body from free radicals, special forms of fiber to support healthy bacterial growth in your gut and promotes weight loss, and improving risks of developing both cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Seaweeds may sound intimidating to you, however, they are extremely versatile and can be used in many dishes, including sushi rolls, soups and stews, salads, and smoothies.
You don’t have to travel to krypton to find a superhero. We’ve got a ton of wonderful superfoods right here in Earth to help you stay healthy, fit, and feeling young for ages to come.