What Are the Health Benefits of Superfoods and Why Are They Important in Our Diet?

We are all aware that nutrient dense foods are beneficial to maintaining good health and a positive attitude.

15-Nov 2021, by Alice Sandwith

When we hear the term "superfoods," we immediately think of something like the superheroes that have superpowers. But what does it really mean and where did it come from?

The superfood craze has been around for nearly a century, and it may have all started with a banana, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The term was coined by The United Fruit Company to promote the usefulness of bananas as a daily source of cheap, easily digestible nutrition.

It ran a series of colourful ads on the health benefits of bananas in the 1920s, research detailing the benefits of bananas was published, and soon the tropical fruit became the first food labelled a superfood. Bananas are still among the top three most imported fruits these days more than 90 years later.

As word spread about the fruit's popularity, so did its name. For a time, doctors recommended bananas to treat a variety of ailments, including celiac disease and diabetes. Prior to the discovery of gluten, the American Medical Association believed that including bananas in a child's diet would provide relief or even cure celiac disease.

What makes Superfood super?

There is no precise definition of what constitutes a "superfood." Superfoods, on the other hand, are thought to be nutrient powerhouses, containing high levels of antioxidants, phytochemicals (plant chemicals responsible for colour and smell), vitamins, and minerals. The majority of superfoods are plant-based, but some fish and dairy products are also included.

Every month, a new trendy superfood appears on the internet, promising to improve gut health, strengthen nails, and reduce stress levels. While they may appear to be strange fads, many of these ingredients have been used in natural medicine for centuries, from Asia to South America.

Nutrients-dense super powders may help you gain energy, fight stress, improve skin health, and strengthen your immune system.

"Though some foods that are so nutritious that they appear to have superpowers, there is no such thing as a superfood — at least not according to scientific standards. Despite the lack of evidence supporting the claimed health benefits of superfoods, superfood sales have not slowed. Global sales of products marketed as "superfoods," "superfruits," or "super grains" increased by 202 percent, according to the Mintel Global New Products Database"

Here are 17 superfood powders worth noting:

Benefits of Superfoods

The high vitamin and mineral content of superfoods can help prevent disease and maintain health. When included in a well-balanced diet, these foods can support heart health, weight loss, improve energy levels, and even reduce the effects of aging.

Many superfoods contain antioxidants, which may help prevent cancer, while healthy fats may lower your risk of heart disease. Fibre, which is found in many superfoods, can help prevent diabetes and digestive issues, while phytochemicals have numerous health benefits, including lowering your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Superfoods have also been shown to protect your organs from toxins, lower cholesterol, regulate metabolism, and reduce inflammation.

Bottomline

While certain superfoods may add to the benefits of healthy eating, variety and moderation are equally important to our dietary needs.

It is important to note that, while superfoods are beneficial to your health and provide many nutrients that you require on a daily basis, they do not constitute a healthy diet in their own right.

In fact, excessive consumption of anything can be harmful to your health. As such, superfoods should supplement, not replace, a well-balanced diet. A healthy and nutritious diet can work wonders for your health when combined with exercise and regular physical activity.

Credits

Photos credit to Shutterstock.com

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Alice Sandwith

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