What are Superfoods?

In your mission to pursue a healthier lifestyle, you might have encountered the term ‘superfoods’ more than once. Nutritionists and scientists, like New York University’s Langone Medical Center’s Despina Hyde, would say that ‘superfoods’ is just a marketing term for foods with high nutritional benefits.

The American Heart Association also says there is no clear definition of what a ‘superfood’ is. One thing’s for sure, superfoods aren’t magic bullets that will make you instantly healthier. Instead, they can help you reach your nutritional requirements with a smaller amount of calories.

Superfoods are generally described as foods known to be packed in nutrients or nutritionally dense. A smaller amount may help you absorb the nutritional equivalent of a bigger serving of another food. Most superfoods are plant-based, but some dairy and fish food items have also earned the title.

Most superfoods made their way to popularity for being rich in antioxidants, which are believed to fight or prevent cancer. Other nutrients include healthy fats, which help counter heart disease; fiber, which is helpful for diabetics or those with digestion problems; and phytochemicals or the substance in plant-based foods which may have a variety of benefits.

1,312 of the nation’s top Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) were surveyed in the 7th Annual Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey. They placed their predictions on which superfoods will be highly sought-after in 2019.

The top 10 superfoods, according to experts, include the following:

  1. Fermented foods
  2. Avocado
  3. Seeds
  4. Ancient grains
  5. Exotic fruits like acai, golden berries
  6. Blueberries
  7. Beets
  8. Nuts
  9. Coconut products
  10. Non-dairy milks

Fermented foods include yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut. They are popular for boosting gut health and reducing inflammation. These foods are rich in probiotic or good bacteria. They introduce healthy enzymes into your body, resulting in a boost in immunity. This can be helpful for aging adults who may be at higher risk for infectious diseases.

Avocados, on the other hand, lead as the 2nd most popular. This fruit contains more potassium than bananas, fiber, and heart-healthy fatty acids. Avocado is also used as a healthier substitute in recipes that need that creamy texture from other fats. Some nutrients are fat-soluble. This means that they need to combine with fat so the body can utilize them. Examples of fat-soluble nutrients include Vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as antioxidants like carotenoids.

Most other superfoods are known to be healthier alternative sources protein, healthy fats, and an assortment of vitamins and minerals.

While it’s good to eat foods rich in nutrients, it’s more important to make sure you meet your personal nutritional requirements – including calories. Consult with your health provider or an RDN to learn how you could change your eating habits to maintain a healthy lifestyle.