- What are superfoods?
- Not just a trend – What the superfoods can do
- Locally sourced superfoods
- Losing weight with superfoods
- Frequently asked questions
The hype surrounding superfoods has continued to grow in recent years, not least because of their supposed special properties, but also because of the growing role of influencers and social media “nutrition experts” who promote selected foods. What are superfoods and do they really have such superpowers?
What are superfoods?
The term “superfood” is used to describe foods that have particular health-promoting properties. In particular, they are characterised by their richness in vitamins and minerals, and are extremely high in valuable ingredients compared to other foods.
Nowadays superfoods can be found in almost every supermarket. The price of these products is no longer an important factor for many people. The selection in each store ranges from small to gigantic. You can find these valuable foods fresh, dried, puréed, as an extract or otherwise processed, for example in powder or tablet form.
TOP 10 Superfoods Table
In the table below, we have summarised some superfoods and their benefits for your body:
|Supports cell renewal and strengthens the immune system
|Satiates hunger due to swelling effect in the stomach. Contains valuable omega-3 fatty acids
|Raw cacao powder
|Revitalising, potential coffee substitute. Also contributes to rapid muscle recovery
|Supports the body’s own detoxification and contributes to muscle building
|Supports the body’s own detoxification and contributes to muscle building
|Contains BCAAs and prevents the breakdown of muscle mass
|Good for the stomach and digestive system, helps against inflammation
|Good for the gastrointestinal tract, many essential unsaturated fatty acids and dietary fibres
|Protects against bacterial infections. Papaya seeds also have great properties, e.g. in supporting liver cleansing.
|Have anti-cancer effects and can alleviate menopausal symptoms, reduce the build up of fat deposits in blood vessels
This is just a small selection of some of the best-known superfoods. There are many others, each with their own special “powers”, which can contribute to optimal health.
Not just a trend - What the superfoods can do
Unfortunately, due to stress, our diet today often consists of fast food and less often of foods that are rich in vitamins such as fruit or vegetables. Furthermore, when it comes to fruit and vegetables, we often choose the same varieties. (Tip: Find out here why stress makes you gain weight). In order to make life simpler, highly-processed foods often end up on the table as they tend to be more convenient. Consequently, in the long run our body gets too few micronutrients. By regularly including superfoods in your diet, you can largely compensate for these deficits and deficiencies. By giving your body a few extra nutrients, you will quickly notice the positive effects.
- Superfoods provide the body with a high density of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants within a comparatively small volume
- They strengthen and protect nails, skin and hair
- These ingredients can support the healing of diseases and strengthen the immune system
- Superfoods aid digestion as they support the activity of the intestines.
- Your mood will also improve and you will feel fitter and more agile.
- This all contributes to optimising your physical well-being and continued health
The hype of superfoods - Is it all just a marketing scheme?
Some would claim that the alleged properties of superfoods are fake and that the effects of the – admittedly often very expensive – products are overrated. Looking at it closely, the word “superfood” is really just a marketing term. It describes food with alleged health-promoting properties.
Scientifically, these properties have not yet been proven, so to call them superfoods is not necessarily an accurate description. But don’t be too negative about superfoods. Whether or not these properties are all they are geared up to be, superfoods certainly have a positive effect on the body in any case.
Oxidative stress is strongly tied to illness and injury in the body. This oxidative stress causes inflammation in the body. (Tip: Find out here what happens in your body when you’re stressed). If this happens, the superpowers of superfoods may be the secret to getting better faster. Some superfoods have an antioxidative effect, which in turn means they have an anti-inflammatory effect. They also help the body’s own detoxification.
It’s important to understand these health benefits can’t just be achieved by eating a bowl of blueberries now and then.
“To take advantage of the positive effects of superfoods, you need to consume them in a certain amount and, most importantly, regularly.”
Antioxidants in superfoods
Foods which fall under the superfood category contain an extremely high number of valuable antioxidants.
What are antioxidants? Antioxidants are molecules that protect the cells in the body from free radicals.
What are free radicals? Free radicals are reactive molecules which can be harmful to the body. They can attack and damage cells, which leads to faster cell ageing. Free radicals are created by completely natural metabolic processes in the body.
However, we may burden our bodies with additional harmful radicals through drinking alcohol in access and smoking. Environmental toxins in urban regions, such as exhaust fumes, also lead to the formation of free radicals. Too many of these in the body can increase the risk of developing diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Superfoods - pros and cons
Whilst these foods boast many positive properties, there are of course also a few downsides that should be considered:
|Strengthening your immune system
|Some are associated with high food miles and consequently high levels of CO2 emissions
|Positively influencing your mental stamina
|Some products are heavily processed, for example into powder or extract forms
|Increasing your physical resilience thanks to their high quantities of important ingredients
|Nutrient losses due to early harvesting (ahead of long transport routes)
|Boosting your energy levels and happiness
|Responsible for high levels of pollution
|Improving the appearance of your skin, hair and nails
|Regional alternatives are just as beneficial, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than exotic options.
Locally sourced superfoods
When most people think of superfoods, exotic fruits and seeds, such as goji berries, avocados and chia seeds, come to mind. Often overlooked are the superfoods that have probably been on our plates since childhood. Among others, we are talking about the following:
…and so on. The only difference between these superfoods and more ‘exotic’ superfoods is that broccoli doesn’t sound as exciting as matcha powder or acai berry. It makes no difference to your health whether the nutrients come from an expensive, exotic product or from the regional product next door.
“So by going for local superfoods, you’ll not only save your wallet, but also do something good for the environment.”
Losing weight with superfoods
Superfoods are not miracle cures. You won’t automatically lose weight by eating nutrient-rich foods regularly. When losing weight, the path to the goal always consists of a balanced diet and a calorie deficit. (Tip: Get the free Upfit nutrition guide to losing weight here). However, certain foods, including superfoods, can help you along this path thanks to their nutritional values and benefits for the body.
|Role played in causing weight loss
|Superfoods often contain large levels of dietary fibre. These get your digestion going and keep you fuller for longer. Fibre can be found in oatmeal, for example.
|Some superfoods are very low in calories, but still filling. which means you can safely eat a huge portion of sauerkraut without having consumed many calories.
|Swelling effect and lots of protein
|Chia seeds, for example, swell up in the stomach. This happens because they absorb water in the stomach, causing them to grow in volume. This means you feel fuller for longer. In addition, chia seeds contain high-quality proteins. Be aware, however that no more than 15 grams of chia seeds per day are recommended.
|Strengthening your immune system and physical activity
|Getting all the essential vitamins and nutrients will strengthen your immune system and counteract nutritional deficiencies. You will feel fitter and become more active, which will increase your calorie needs in everyday life.
Note: Many superfoods, especially those in dried form, have a high energy density. So you get a lot of calories from a relatively small amount. Just make sure to consume these foods in moderation.
Cooking with superfoods
Many superfoods, such as nuts or berries, can of course just be eaten on their own as a snack. However, they can also be incorperated into a main meal. Here are a few ideas and things to keep in mind:
- The vitamin content of most foods is reduced by excessive heating.
- High-fibre foods, on the other hand, can be cooked longer. For example, porridge tastes particularly creamy when left to simmer for a long time.
- Seeds, dried fruits or nuts can be added to any dish as a topping.
Note: Superfoods alone are not the solution
With all their benefits, you may think that the more superfoods you eat, the healthier you will be. This is not true! Changing your diet to solely consuming superfoods is also not the solution. Be careful not to eat too monotonously. All three macronutrients and a varied selection of micronutrients are important to remain healthy. The body needs this variety in order to extract the beneficial contents from superfoods. For example, the vitamins from a salad can only be absorbed optimally in combination with some fat/oil.
It’s a health hype. Chia today, avocados tomorrow: unconsciously we follow trends and change our lifestyles accordingly. Nowadays, more and more people are following the trend of healthy and balanced nutrition. That’s a good thing, no question. More and more health-conscious people are willing to spend a certain amount of money on healthy food and superfoods.
The trend is moving towards naturalness. It is moving away from industrially produced vitamin supplements and towards fresh and “real” vitamins and nutrients from fruits, nuts and seeds. The easiest way to take in many nutrients at once is to include superfoods in your daily diet. But it is definitely not necessary to buy the overpriced, exotic superfoods to achieve this. Local superfoods contain all the same goodness.
Your lifestyle matters. Superfoods alone won’t help you achieve your goals. To lose weight, build muscle or simply do something good for your body, you need to get your entire lifestyle right. You should follow a balanced diet, and regular superfoods fit in to this well. In addition, many other factors, such as fresh air, sufficient exercise and relaxation, play an important role too. Superfoods can only support you as part of a varied diet and prevent you from cravings when losing weight.
Psychologically, the term superfood is even a little misleading because you may be drawn into thinking that any other food is less healthy.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food!”
Frequently asked questions
What are superfoods?
Superfoods are foods with particular health-promoting effects. They contain a high proportion of antioxidant or “healthy” ingredients compared to other foods.
What are the main superfoods?
Superfoods include many exotic fruits such as avocados, papayas or goji berries. Nuts like almonds or seeds like chia and flax also count. These “trending” foods are often praised on social media. However, the same effect can be achieved regionally and more cheaply. Blueberries, broccoli, parsley and even dandelion are just as healthy and nutrient-rich.
Do superfoods help you lose weight?
Superfoods alone will not automatically lead to weight loss! They should be included in a healthy and balanced diet. If you lead an active and healthy lifestyle, superfoods can also help you lose weight with their healing and health-promoting effects. However, you should not reduce your entire diet to these foods only.