I'm sure that if you have scanned the magazines at any checkout, you have probably seen plenty of articles touting the importance of Superfoods.
However, what is it that actually constitutes a Superfood?
As there is no food group labeled “Superfood,'' a superfood is generally thought of as a food that is loaded with nutrients, comes from a natural source and has a low caloric content.
In the context of nutrient density, you can visualize it this way, how many nutrients are there compared to calories? In this case I will resort to the Andi Chart developed by Eat Right America and Dr. Joel Fuhrman. This is an excellent resource in learning how nutrient dense our foods are.
Here are some examples: French fries and cheddar cheese are two foods at the bottom of the chart that are high in calories and are low in nutrients. On the other side of the chart are Kale and Spinach, rating high in nutrients and low in calories. Nutrient dense foods will provide you with the most nutrients per bite.
That’s what I call eating smart!
Let’s take a look at the Components of a Superfood…
1. Superfoods come from natural sources and may or may not be organic.
Natural versus Organic: Foods that come from a natural source, are foods where nothing artificial or synthetic has been added. There are no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. While there is no formal certification for labeling a food “natural”, there are for the term “organic”. Organic foods and natural foods do have their differences. Organic foods and farming methods do not use any chemicals. pesticides, fertilizers or artificial agents. Not only can eating natural and organic foods be beneficial to us, it’s also beneficial to our planet.
2. Superfoods are low in calories, and high in nutritional value.
Calories: Calories are something I think we all have a fairly good understanding of. A calorie is a unit of energy and the human body needs energy to survive. Our body breaks down food molecules that are stored as energy. This energy then performs many different functions from: movement, to growth and even thought. We need a certain caloric intake to stay alive. However, too many calories leads to weight gain.
Below are some superfoods that are rich in nutrients while being comparatively low in calories.
By incorporating more superfoods into our diet, we can keep our calories down while making sure that we have adequate nutrition. Superfoods can strengthen our body’s immune system, increase our energy, and may help prevent or even ward off disease.