There are regular foods, and then there are superfoods. The term “superfoods” has made its way firmly into the general lexicon, but its definition is a bit murky. What nutritional characteristics do all superfoods share? What defines a superfood? And how can you benefit from eating more superfoods?
Sounds like some questions of super-sized importance, so let’s get started!
What are Superfoods?
The most basic definition of a superfood is: a nutrient-dense, healthy food found in nature. It can be a plant, animal or dairy product. (Yes, technically dairy isn’t found “naturally,” but some organic dairy products consist of solely superfood ingredients.)
There is no formal designation for superfoods. You won’t find “Superfood” as an official label, and no central governing body determines if a certain food should get the “super” prefix.
According to Despina Hyde, a dietician at the Langone Medical Center (New York University), consumers shouldn’t think of superfoods as their own exclusive category. Hyde thinks that the definition “superfood” is more of a marketing ploy than anything else.
So while it’s not an official word, it can be a useful tool for eating healthier.
Top 10 Superfoods
To make our exclusive list, a food has to be nutritionally dense, packed with vitamins, relatively low in calories and pretty much available anywhere. Some of these foods you probably figured would make the cut, but there are a few on here you probably didn’t think of as “super.” Here we go:
We decided to start this list with the toughest food to actually say. This tiny seed, which cooks and even tastes like healthy grains, is pronounced KEEN-wah. Quinoa’s big benefit comes from amino acid production; it gives you essential amino acids your body doesn’t make. Since it is a seed, it’s also packed with protein – close to 10 grams in just one cup! The best thing about this superfood? It can be paired or cooked with pretty much everything else on the list. Quinoa is the ultimate superfood base dish.
Loaded with healthy fiber, blueberries (preferably wild, but regular ones are just fine) also contain resveratrol, a compound found in grape skins. Nutrition experts are just starting to come around on resveratrol, but two promising characteristics include optimized exercise performance and the ability to mimic and enhance intermittent fasting. When a food helps you well beyond the dining room and into the weight room, it definitely deserves to be called super.
Lower in fat (but still containing healthy fats), a better Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, no GMOs or artificial steroids, better appearance, superior taste – is there anything grass-fed beef lacks? “Super” for so many reasons, grass-fed beef is very similar to how beef used to be produced decades ago. Along with its obvious nutritional benefits, grass-fed beef also contains a little-known good fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to suppress cancer.
Say hello to the elder statesman of superfoods. Green tea’s health enhancing attributes have been known for centuries, and they’re worth reiterating: outsized antioxidants, including EGCG, that can help prevent all kinds of bad stuff, including cancer. EGCG restricts unnecessary cell growth, which can ultimately prevent different cancers from occurring. Have a cup today!
Nuts are underrated as a healthy snack, so we decided to include one of the healthiest nuts around: pistachios. This little nut is a big nutritional deal. It’s loaded with protein and fiber, and also has the potassium content that would make any banana take notice. A small handful of pistachios are perfect for warding off hunger and also giving your body essential nutrients.
This superfood’s versatility and impressive nutritional profile are so astounding, it just might bring you to tears. Not commonly regarded as super, onions are jam-packed with flavonoids, improve blood lipid markers, and (pay attention, men) are known to jump start testosterone production. Any onion will do – Vidalia, white, yellow and more – so grab your Kleenex and start cooking!
Not as distinguished or established as green tea, olive oil still ranks as one of the older superfoods. In fact, some experts think it’s been a superfood for thousands of years – humans never really knew it until recently. Aside from its ultra-versatile application in practically any recipe or diet plan, olive oil (preferable extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO), also improves HDL cholesterol and exhibits anti-Alzheimer’s properties.
It can be tough to find superfoods this cheap. As well under a dollar per pound, bananas offer an abundance of nutritional goodness. They’re one of nature’s best sources of resistant starch, they battle diabetes and they’re also loaded with antioxidants. We don’t recommend too many bananas – too much of any fruit will spike your sugar – but if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, why can’t a daily banana?
Most kids don’t rank broccoli too high, but it makes the mark in terms of an accessible, affordable superfood. Regardless of your cooking method – steaming keeps more nutrients, but roasting is fine, too– broccoli brings a bold nutritional punch to any meal. It contains fiber, calcium and an alphabet’s-worth of vitamins (A, C and K are three prominent ones).
Let’s follow one green with another. Spinach, like broccoli, is stuffed with vitamins and minerals, including plenty of calcium. One cup has more than 10% of the recommended daily allowance. Turns out that Popeye was right – spinach is hard to beat.
So there you have it – 10 superfoods you can feel good about eating. Urgent Care Extra believes that diet’s role in your overall health cannot be overstated enough; eat right, and you’re much less likely to get sick or contract a disease. However, even the healthiest fitness enthusiasts (yes, even those that eat optimally every day) require immediate medical attention for non-life-threatening emergencies. That’s where Urgent Care Extra can help. As one of the premier walk-in healthcare clinic networks in Arizona and Nevada, our doctors, nurses and professional medical staff can help you get back on track ASAP.
With a full slate of healthcare options – for both urgent and long-term healthcare needs – Urgent Care Extra has more than three dozen medical care clinics in the southwest region. Find the nearest Urgent Care Extra clinic to you and stop in today. Appointments are never required. Simply walk in and we’ll do the rest!
For more information about our complete line of services and programs, please call our main office at (480) 988-9108. A UCE healthcare consultant will be happy to assist you.