What Is a Superfood?

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Filed Under: General Health, Diet
Last Reviewed 04/11/2014

What Is a Superfood?

The term “superfood” is used to describe extraordinarily nutrient-rich foods that have few negative properties and therefore make them superior to “everyday foods.” They are foods rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, and have health benefits proven to alleviate or prevent disease. While the word is currently being applied to everything from green tea to quinoa, it’s important to note that there is no scientific definition or comprehensive list of superfoods—so discerning true “superfood” quality is requires an educated understanding of food, and not simply believing marketing hype. For examples, some lists of “superfoods” include all fruits and vegetables, which makes the term less meaningful. 

What Are Examples of True Superfoods?

Berries are generally understood to be superfoods, with blueberries topping the list. Full of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, it’s easy to see why. Most nuts and seeds are also superfoods, as they are excellent sources of protein and healthy fat. Though high in calories, nuts are a healthy everyday addition to your diet when taken in moderate servings. Dark green vegetables such as kale, swiss chard, broccoli, and spinach do live up to their reputation. Kale, which has enjoyed a huge boost in popularity in recent years, is unparalleled among leafy greens in providing all essential amino acids and nine non-essential ones. It is also a strong source of protein and fiber.

Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to help with everything from mood problems to cardiovascular health.

Vegetables with bright, dark, or intense colors—such as beets, sweet potatoes, peppers—are high in polyphenols and antioxidants and have been linked to cancer prevention.

Now it's your turn: What's your favorite superfood?

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