The 21st century is a time for health and wellness. Even the Harvard Medical School is talking about organic superfoods! What is organic? What is a superfood? And what is so mysteriously magical about organic superfoods?
In this article, we are going to get to bottom of it, so you can thank us later with overflowing health and vitality.
What can be qualified as superfoods?
The first thing that you need to know is that the term “Superfood” is overused. When everything is called a superfood, they aren’t really SUPER anymore, are they?
Harvard Medical School points out that we shouldn’t focus on specific foods, but healthy eating patterns such as getting a wide range of vegetables. Nevertheless, there are a few, note, only a few foods that can be singled out for special recognition. These are the real superfoods – so nutritious that they really can boost your health significantly.
To be considered as a superfood, it generally needs to meet most if not all of these criteria:
- Contain a high volume of vitamins and minerals
- Contain plenty of antioxidants (natural detox to biological oxidative stress)
- Promote stronger immunity and reduce inflammation
- Decrease risks of diseases and overall mortality
- Help maintain a healthy weight and mental health
Organic food is produced without the use of synthetic chemicals or genetically modified components.
This means that organic foods contain lower levels of pesticide residues and heavy metals. Another great concern of modern-day farming is the prevalent use of antibiotics, which is a key driver of antibiotic resistance in animals and people. Organic production also means no antibiotics.
Did you know that three-fourths of the American population is not getting enough vegetables and fiber? Most people don’t even eat one serving of dark leafy green a day, which explains why there are so many people with gut issues and chronic diseases.
Dark leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. They are important nutrients not only for us but also the 200 trillion bacteria that live in our gut. When our gut bacteria feed on plant-based fibres and flourish, we benefit from better nutrient absorption and less inflammation.
For example, kale is one of the most nutrient-dense green vegetables. One cup of raw kale alone has 684% of our daily needs for vitamin K, 206% for vitamin A and 134% for vitamin C! it is also very low in cholesterol and fat, so you can literally eat more and never worry about weight.
Berries are nature’s best antioxidants. This means that if you can make berries part of your daily routine, you will never have to worry about oxidative stress wrecking your cells and DNA.
Antioxidants are well known to be anti-aging and health-promoting superfoods. For example, a study published on International Journal of Molecular Sciences states “Bioactive compounds are contained in berries in great amount, and may act as strong antioxidants and, thus, could help in the prevention of inflammation disorders, cardiovascular diseases, or have protective effects to lower the risk of various cancers.”
Did you know little nuts could be powerful for heart health? They are packed with heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, which lower the bad cholesterol (LDL). Nuts are also rick in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals – a small handful really does a lot!
A meta-analysis study published on BMC Medicine looked at 29 publications and concluded: “Higher nut intake is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality, and mortality from respiratory disease, diabetes, and infections.”
Even though nuts are high in fat and caloric dense, they don’t make you fat like processed oil does. This is because the plant-based fat and protein make you feel more satiated and help lower the blood sugar. In other words, nuts not only aren’t fattening, but also curb your sweet tooth.
Similar to berries and nuts, seeds are also full of bioactive compounds and healthy fats like Omega-3. The scientifically tested health benefits for seeds include
- Improved glycaemic control for diabetics
- Decreased blood pressure
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions
Overall, seeds are great superfoods for preventing and improving heart diseases and Type-2 diabetes. They are also super easy to add to your diet, simply sprinkle some organic chia seeds on your breakfast oatmeal or add a teaspoon to your smooth.
Garlic is commonly used in alternative medicine and natural remedies for a reason. It is considered one of the best disease preventative foods because of its richness in antioxidants and other powerful bioactive compounds.
A comprehensive review on the therapeutic effects lists these benefits of garlic:
- Reduced risk for cardiovascular diseases
- Anti-tumour and anti-microbial effects
- Beneficial for blood glucose regulation
Quinoa is one of the least allergenic grains, an excellent replacement to wheat and rice. It contains all nine essential amino acids and is therefore a complete-protein source.
Quinoa is also packed with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and dietary fibre. These properties make it an idea superfood for a good gut health. Organic quinoa is gluten-free and contains more vitamin B2, E and A, and iron than most other grains.
Cacao nibs are small pieces of cacao beans that are loaded with nutrients. Although chocolates are made of cacao nibs and have a bad rep, cacao nibs in their organic natural form are actually low in sugar and high in fiber, protein and healthy fats.
Cocoa also contains more antioxidants than most foods and has proven benefits on heart health because of the anti-inflammatory effects of cocoa polyphenols. A paper published in Antioxidants & Redox Signalling explains that cocoa can
- Protect nerves from injury and inflammation
- Protect the skin from UV radiation
- Improve cognitive function and mood
- Regulate insulin resistance and reduce the risk for diabetes
Barley grass has abundant nutrients including chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and plenty of antioxidants. daily consumption of barley grass powder has been shown to promote many aspects of health and lower the risks for chronic diseases.
Organic barley grass can be easily taken in its powder form. You can simply add it into a bottled juice, blend it in a fruit smoothie, or drink it like a tea.
Apart from being used as a spice in Indian cuisines, turmeric is one of the powerful anti-inflammatory superfoods. Its active compound curcumin is a very potent antioxidant that has proven benefits for the human health. A recent study titled “Curcumin: a review of its effects on human health”, published on Foods, lists the benefits of turmeric:
- Management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions
- Help with metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety and hyperlipidemia
- May also help with exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness
To incorporate turmeric into your diet, simply sprinkle it while cooking or blend it with a fruit smoothie in the morning.
Although most people only know olive oil is a healthy oil, olives themselves are also highly nutritious superfoods. They are high in vitamin E, antioxidants as well as healthy fats.
The main component of olives is oleic aicd, a type of monounsaturated fatty acid that has been linked to decreased inflammation and heart disease.
When made into extra virgin olive oil, it is still beneficial for several chronic diseases, including breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. A systematic review concluded that among animal and vegetable oils. Only olive oil was associated with reduced risk of mortality, cardiovascular events and stroke.
The bottom line
Of course, it is not to say that there are only 10 foods that we should eat to keep healthy. We should always eat a wide range of plant-dominant whole foods to cover all nutrient groups.
Including some or all of the organic superfoods listed here every day is definitely a good idea to improve your health and vitality!