What are superfoods? Are there really such miraculous foods that deserve this name? The term superfood is very generic and indicates foods, such as fruit, vegetables or seeds, which have a high content of vitamins, mineral salts, omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants that are beneficial to health and capable of helping to counteract aging processes and inflammation throughout the body as a part of a healthy and varied diet. The keyword, however, is to help. In fact, there is no single food that can ward off disease and ensure long life. Taking this statement into consideration, then the answer to the questions with which we opened this article is certainly yes, there are foods that can be considered superfoods to include in our healthy diet. So let's see what these foods are, based on the most interesting scientific research.
Algae, properties and benefits of this superfood
Some algae, such as spirulina and chlorella, can be called superfoods. Indeed, these algae are rich in proteins, iron, folate and vitamin B12, which is generally not present in foods of plant origin, but they also provide antioxidants, such as chlorophyll and phenolic compounds. Studies have observed that taking supplements based on these algae, combined with vitamin and mineral salt supplements, especially selenium, zinc, vitamins A, C, D, E and group B, has made it possible to reduce the incidence of infections of the respiratory tract and to support the immune system (Vishwakarma et al, Lebensm Wiss Technol, 2022).
Berries, a powerful superfood
Blueberries are the food that appears most when it comes to superfoods, and rightly so. In fact, thanks to the anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants contained in blueberries, the moderate but regular intake of these berries helps to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, to keep body weight under control and to protect the microbiota and brain health (Kalt et al, Adv Nutr, 2020). Among the healthy berries, strawberries and raspberries should not be forgotten. Strawberries help fight inflammation and hypertension and raspberries help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer's (Basu et al, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2014 - Burton Freeman et al, Adv Nutr, 2016). It is noteworthy that berries can also be eaten out of season in frozen or dried form, as these processes have been shown to preserve antioxidants (Lohachoompol et al, J Biomed Biotechnol., 2004).
Seeds, precious superfoods
Chia, flax, pumpkin and sunflower, here are the seeds to add to yoghurt, drinks or snacks to support your health! In fact, chia seeds, which must always be added to a liquid, mixed and left to rest for about 15 minutes before being taken, are a precious source of omega 3 essential fatty acids, fibers, proteins, vitamins, mineral salts and antioxidants, such as rosmarinic and caffeic acid and quercetin (Hrncic et al, Molecules, 2020). Flax seeds also provide omega 3 fatty acids, help control circulating fats, but also reduce inflammation and aging processes (Parikh et al, Nutrients, 2019). Pumpkin seeds provide antioxidants, but also zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium and potassium, which make them an aid in counteracting arthritis, chronic inflammation and cellular degeneration. These seeds are also a source of tryptophan, which helps relieve anxiety and depression (Batool et al, Plants, 2022). Sunflower seeds are very nutritious, providing proteins and unsaturated fatty acids, but also fibers, antioxidants, vitamins, such as E and group B, minerals, such as calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc (Petraru et al, Plants, 2021).
Spices, the superfood that brings aromas and lots of health
Ginger, garlic, turmeric, rosemary and chilli are also considered precious superfoods, capable of protecting the heart and counteracting inflammation, diabetes and cellular degeneration and strengthening memory (Rastogi et al , Curr Pharm Des, 2017 - Prasad et al, Gastroenterol Res Pract, 2015 - Rahbardar et al, Iran J Basic Med Sci, 2020). And then spices are also easy to include in your daily diet, since they give taste and aromas to the different preparations and also help reduce the use of salt! It should be added that, to enhance the benefits of turmeric and make its active ingredients easily available, this spice should be mixed with a grind of black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Cabbages, powerful superfoods
Cabbages and, above all, kale are considered important superfoods. Cabbages and kale provide vitamins, such as A, C, K and folate, minerals important for health, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, and fibers with a prebiotic action, namely useful for the well-being of the intestinal microbiota. Not only that, cabbage and kale are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and can be eaten raw in salads to preserve their maximum beneficial power (Alfawaz et al, Nutrients, 2022).