Ingredients 101: Breaking down the best superfoods for your body
First things first, we should point out that the term “superfood” originates as a marketing term from the early 1920’s. It was actually first used to sell imported bananas in the United States. Everyday Health writes, “In the 1920s, the United Fruit Company ran a series of colorful ads on the health benefits of bananas.” Research detailing the benefits of bananas was published, and soon the tropical fruit became the first food labeled a “superfood.” And apparently it worked. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, more than 90 years later, bananas continue to be in the top three most imported fruits in the United States.
Since then, the meaning of the word has progressed and matured into a “title” of sorts, for “super” nutritious foods. Women’s Day defines them as natural foods that “benefit your overall well-being, and are linked to a sharper mind, clearer skin, and a healthier immune system.”
So, to put it plainly, Superfoods are natural foods that are really good for you. And the best part about them, is that they’re really good for you in different ways. So, we put together a list of some superfood all-stars to keep your eyes out for next time you’re at the store!
When it comes to berries, there’s one word that matters ~antioxidants. Berries have a ton of antioxidants, and right now you may be wondering why that matters. Well, antioxidants regulate your free radicals. So what are free radicals? Healthline reports that “Free radicals are unstable molecules that are beneficial in small amounts but can damage your cells when their numbers get too high, causing oxidative stress.” Essentially what that means is that free radicals are the contaminants that make up diseases and ailments in the body. Colds, flus, diseases, and infections all need free radicals to survive, so limiting free radicals-limits disease and promotes a strong immune system. Regulating free radicals is something ALL berries do, but each berry also has its own unique set of additional benefits. Strawberries (one of our personal favorites…) pack a huge punch of Vitamin C, and actually contain more of the Vitamin ounce for ounce than oranges and lemons. Alongside a host of antioxidants that help destroy free radicals in the body and reduce inflammation.
Whereas Blueberries have a particularly high number of anthocyanin pigments, which, like you might have guessed, give them their rich blue color.
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that is closely related to ginger. Originally from India, it’s been widely enjoyed both in the kitchen, and in traditional medicine. Turmeric has Curcumin to thank for that. What is Curcumin? Well, it’s the active ingredient in Turmeric, and it has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It can also serve as an all natural pain reliever. One drawback of using curcumin medicinally is that it’s not easily absorbed by your body. Luckily for us, spices like Black Pepper allow your body to absorb this incredible compound. (Now if only someone was putting them together in organic, on the go immunity shots….)
Ginger is the root of a common flowering plant from China. Much like Turmeric, it’s used both as a culinary flavor enhancer and for its multiple medicinal effects. Ginger root contains antioxidants like berries do, and natural compounds like gingerol. Ginger can even be effective at managing nausea and reducing pain from acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, much like Turmeric. One of the best parts about Ginger is how easy it is to access. Ginger is available fresh, in oils and extracts, and even in powdered immunity support shots…
Nutritionists say that generally, the darker the color of a vegetable, the more nutrients it contains. That’s due to where the color comes from in the first place. “Dark, leafy greens like arugula, kale, collard greens, spinach, lettuce, and Swiss chard get their vibrant colors from chlorophyll, which keeps plants healthy, and the dietary fiber found in dark greens can decrease the risk of colorectal cancer” according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. I guess Popeye was really onto something.
(Don’t worry, they’re just garlic and onion.) That’s right, the champs of the kitchen are also fighting for your health. Everyday Health writes that, “They may be pungent (some even bring us to tears), but allium vegetables — chives, onions, garlic, leeks, and the like — deliver potent health benefits.” Plus, they’re delicious. Widely regarded as a way to ward off the evil eye, garlic has real life antibacterial and antiviral properties. Studies have found allium vegetables may even play a role in cell regeneration. We’re not suggesting you knock back a Blooming Onion for dinner, but go ahead and use a couple more garlic cloves tonight…
15 of the Most Powerful Superfoods: Everyday Health
11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger
Lemons 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
8 Impressive Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
"This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Ryla."