What Are Superfoods? Are They Healthy?
Superfoods are natural foods that are rich in nutrients. These foods include berries, seeds, grains, algae, vegetables, and fruits that can have a positive effect on the body. Superfoods have a high quantity of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and antioxidants. Where most healthy foods have 2 or 3 nutritional properties, superfoods tend to have 12 or more.
There are 4 main groupings of superfoods:
This group contains green vegetables that have high quantities of vitamins, proteins, minerals, and healthy bacteria. Examples of green superfoods would be wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina, chlorella, and green leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, kale, leeks, broccoli, legumes, and winter purslane.
Fruits and Nuts Superfoods:
Lots of fruits and nuts have bacteria-killing properties. Examples of these would include acai berries, blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, mulberries, pomegranate, maqui berry, maca, almonds, walnuts, raw cacao and coconut.
Healthy herbs are packed with vitamins. They also have lots of medicinal properties. Examples of these would include nettle, aloe vera, echinacea, ginseng, devil’s claw, ginger, ginko biloba, marigold, tumeric, anise, and basil.
Examples of other superfoods would include bee pollen, honey, royal jelly, and a wide range of seaweeds.
The Benefits of Superfoods
Each superfood has its own unique characteristics and health benefits. Some of the more basic benefits that superfoods can provide include:
- Improving physical and mental health
- Strengthening the immune system
- Increasing resistance to disease
- Rejuvenating the skin
- Reducing the risk of cancer
- Protecting your heart
- Improving metabolism
How To Eat Superfoods
Superfoods are best consumed in their raw, original state because many of the nutrients in the superfoods can be lost through modern processing. This can also limit or lose the many nutritional and healing qualities of the superfoods.
If cooking is necessary, overcooking should be avoided. Heat tends to damage water-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C and destroys antioxidants that are found in the pigments of plant-based foods.
Herbs offer a wide range of nutrients to the body that it may not otherwise receive due to poor diet practices and environmental deficiencies in the soil or air. Medicinally, herbs work with the body to help heal and regulate itself. It’s best to use herbs in their whole form as opposed to isolating effective plant constituents’ so-called “active ingredients”. It’s best to use herbs that can affect each part of a medicinal problem since most illnesses and all body parts are interrelated.
Types of Herb Superfoods
Nettle plants are known to have a sting but when dried and eaten, saliva neutralizes the sting. Nettle helps with removing excess weight. Consuming 1 cup of nettle tea in the morning will help to improve your bowel movements. Nettle leaves also help to increase metabolism, release mucous in the colon, allowing for the flushing of excess wastes, treat anemia (due to its high iron content), decrease the chances of skin problems, and increase the thyroid function.
The aloe vera plant seems to thrive in tropical and sub-tropical areas. Research has shown that aloe vera has about 75 healing compounds. Some of these compounds are natural steroids, antibiotic agents, amino acids, minerals and enzymes. Due to it high quantities of natural sulphur, the Egyptians have used aloe vera as a skin moisturizer and treatment for burns, cuts, bruises, acne, and eczema.
Aloe vera juice tends to alkalize the digestive tract which helps prevent over-acidity (a leading cause of indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, and ulcers). Aloe vera can also reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels, prevent kidney stones, stop colon cancer, enhance oxygen levels in the blood, heal infections, cuts and burns, and protect the body from stress.
This plant is useful for warding off the cold and flu, stimulating the immune system by building white blood cells and building up resistance. It also works as a natural antibiotic. Echinacea is also effective at stimulating the lymph flow in the body. The lymph runs parallel to the blood stream and helps to rid the body of toxins. Echinacea can be taken in either liquid or capsule form for about 2-3 weeks during flu season.
Asians have been known to use ginseng as an energy source as it helps to rejuvenate the body from stress, anxiety, and tiredness. It also helps people to recover from illness or surgery as it has restorative and anti-infection properties. Ginseng can also help with treating diabetes, preventing the growth of cancer cells, improving digestion, lowering cholesterol levels and increasing the body’s immune system.
This herb can help to stimulate the immune system, boost the metabolism, help with minor digestion issues, reduce stomach acidity, increase the body’s metabolic rate, promote the elimination of waste materials and help digestion.
This plant is often used in chinese medicine as a liver cleanser and antiviral herb.
Tumeric has very strong anti-inflammatory properties and is also packed with antioxidants.
Thanks to a substance called glycyrrhizin, licquorice root has great immune-boosting properties. Glycrrhizin also helps to fight various flu viruses.
Rosemary and Garlic:
These herbs help to prevent cancer when consumed with cooked meat. It helps to reduce the formation of heterocyclic compounds. Garlic can also treat colds and flus, lower cholesterol levels, strengthen the immune system and prevent pancreatic, liver or colorectal cancer.
Helps to reduce muscle soreness, especially after heavy exercise. It also helps to calm the stomach.
The polysaccharides and other beneficial compounds in medicinal mushrooms help to increase the body’s immune system to prevent diseases and illnesses. Examples of these medicinal mushrooms include Agaricus blazei Murrill, lions mane, shitake, reishi, maitake and cordyceps. These mushrooms contain antioxidants and help boost the immune system and energy levels and prevent problems in skin or liver.