Many nutritionists won’t hesitate to let you know that the term “superfood” is a loaded phrase, and that sometimes the benefits associated with certain superfoods aren't worth the hype. But if you ask five different nutritionists what their list of superfoods is, they won’t all look the same. This is because each food provides different advantages for your body.
For example, one food on the list might be high in protein or fiber but low in specific vitamins and minerals. A different superfood could be high in antioxidants but have no protein. Because of this, eating a large variety of superfoods is the best way to reach optimal health and maintain a healthy diet.
Here are 10 of the most powerful superfoods and their benefits. Such as Matcha, beetroot, monk fruit, turmeric, bee pollen - yes, bee pollen is one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods so of course, it’s a superfood.
Matcha is made from powdered green tea leaves and these leaves contain two powerful phytochemicals that act as antioxidants for the body. There are claims that these chemical compounds found in green tea and matcha can help lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. In a typical green tea, the leaves are steeped but the leaves can also be ground and added to food. Matcha is the ground version and it is thought to be a more powerful source of antioxidants since you will be consuming the entire leaf.
The thing that puts the “super” into this food are the phytochemicals which include flavonoids and polyphenols. Plus, research shows that green tea can reduce heart disease by lowering your total cholesterol levels and raising good cholesterol levels. Some other studies suggest that green tea might inhibit some forms of cancer, prevent neurological diseases and help to regulate blood glucose.
If you like tea, then you should definitely start including some green tea or matcha into your diet.
Beetroot or beetroot juice is relatively new to the superfood scene, but there are claims that suggest that this rich purple juice is able to help boost energy and stamina while lowering blood pressure.
Beetroot contains phytochemicals including anthocyanins and carotenoids. While there is limited research on beetroot, the research done has shown that beetroot is shown to lower blood pressure and increase physical performance. However, more research is needed.
If you like the taste of beets, you could start incorporating them into your salads or juices regularly.
3. Monk Fruit
Monk fruits are an unusual fruit that look quite plain next to colorful apples and oranges. But, as a fruit that contains no sugar, it can offer some pretty substantial health benefits. The monk fruit contains a high level of vital body vitamins and minerals. When eaten whole, it offers mogrosides I-V compounds which are known to help control diabetes and inflammation in the body.
The Vitamin C found in the fruit can also stimulate the production of white blood cells, boosting your overall immunity. Research also reveals that monk fruit, when used as a natural sweetener, helps balance your hormones, improve your sleep and reduce depression.
In other cases, monk fruit can be used to give relief from seasonal allergies since it acts as a natural antihistamine. Studies show it has the ability to reduce the histamine response to allergies, so the daily consumption of monk fruit is correlated to allergy relief.
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that is responsible for giving curry its well-known flavor and color. It has been used in ancient and homeopathic medicine as an anti-inflammatory solution for many generations. Turmeric has grown in popularity because of claims that it helps to relieve GI issues like indigestion and ulcers, helps prevent and treat cancer, eases inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, and prevents neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Turmeric contains a phytochemical known as curcumin. Curcumin has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Preliminary research has suggested that it may help reduce the risk of heart disease, ease heartburn, and slow down the progression of neurological diseases.
If you enjoy eating curry, then you can enjoy the benefits of having turmeric in your diet to help aid as a daily supplement, all while improving your gut health and inflammatory concerns in check.
5. Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is made up of a mixture of flower pollen, nectar, enzymes, honey, wax and other bee secretions. Honey bees collect pollen from plants which they transfer to their beehive for storage and where it will be used as food for the colony.
Bee pollen is unlike other bee products such as honey, royal jelly, or honeycomb. These products might not contain any bee pollen or may have other substances.
Bee pollen has recently gained popularity among the health community because it contains high levels of nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, lipids and over 250 active substances. Even the Federal Ministry of Health in Germany recognizes bee pollen as a medicine. There are many studies that have studied the health effects of bee pollen with promising results.
Bee pollen has a very impressive natural profile. It contains over 250 active substances that include proteins, carbs, lipids, fatty acids, vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants. The antioxidants found in bee pollen can protect your cells from damage induced by free radicals which is linked to chronic health diseases including cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Bee pollen is sold naturally as little granules which you can measure and eat by the spoonful. You can also mix it into other foods like yogurt or granola. It has a bitter taste, although those who take it regularly can get used to it.
6. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods include pickles, yoghurt, miso paste or sauerkraut. Fermented foods aid your gut health which is becoming more of an innovative aspect of wellness and nutrition these days. Many consumers are interested in finding foods that will help them reduce inflammation and detox their bodies in a natural way, which fermented foods definitely help with.
For example, sauerkraut is abundant in lactic acid bacteria which aids with digestion. Kefir is another example of a fermented food that helps digestion, fights off harmful bacteria and can be effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome and other stomach issues.
7. Ground Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are known to be a great source of fiber, but they are also loaded with alpha-linolenic acid. Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid that is proven to reduce inflammation in the body. Flaxseeds also contain compounds that can help reduce rates of certain hormone-related cancers.
Some studies also suggest that flaxseeds have other anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful for addressing acne and asthma conditions. Consuming ground flax is a great source of fiber and helps to reduce digestive problems.
Flaxseeds are packed with nutrients and are a good source of healthy fats and is one of the most remarkable “superfoods” out there that is full of minerals, fatty acids and usable protein. Add it to your smoothies, salads or oatmeal for a healthy boost.
Studies actually do show that an apple a day can keep your doctor away! Apples are packed with antioxidants known as quercetin and catechin, which help protect our cells and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
If you do eat apples, try eating it with the skin as you can get more nutrients and fiber when you do. An apple and its skin are higher in fiber than many other fruits. This can help aid in weight loss by keeping you full for longer. Apples taste refreshing, are filling and give you energy in addition to their antioxidant health benefits.
Try eating apple slices dipped with nut butter for a quick fix snack, add them to your oatmeal or just eat them by themselves while you’re on the go.
Blueberries have been known as one of the top fruits when it comes to providing antioxidants. In fact, in a study of common fruits, blueberries were found to contain more antioxidants than over 40 other fruit competitors.
This places the mighty but small blueberry at the number one spot for guarding against cancer, heart disease, dementia and macular degeneration. Blueberries can also help protect us against urinary tract infections, thanks to containing an antioxidant known as epicatechin.
Epicatechins prevent bacteria from sticking onto the bladder wall. Blueberries also have a high water content, providing hydration to the skin and cells of the body. If you eat just half a cup of blueberries, it will count as one fruit serving per day.
Oats have been touted as one of the healthiest foods out there. Oats are high in soluble fiber and have been linked to reducing blood pressure and overall cholesterol levels. Oats are a great carbohydrate, and they are rich in beta-glucan.
Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber that slows down the digestion of sugar to help keep blood sugar levels in check. Oats are also a good source of plant protein, which helps muscle growth and repair.
A half cup serving of oats provides an impressive 10 grams, and plenty of studies show that eating oatmeal can reduce the risk of heart disease. You can start your day off strong with a bowl of oats, but they’re also great as pre- and post- workout meals.
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