Nowadays, superfoods are everywhere and growing in popularity with more and more people becoming conscious of their health. Not only this, if you want to ensure your health is in top form you can also carry your doctor around in your pocket. With telemedicine in the U.S. becoming more popular, you can have access to health advice through your phone as well as your laptop/computer. The potential of illness prevention by consuming superfoods and expertise advice via telemedicine means that more people could be healthier and happier much more easily.
What exactly classifies as a superfood, and do they really make any real difference to one’s health? Or is it all a dieting myth in the name of getting us to dig deeper into our wallets? Most of us know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. Superfoods, however, are types of food that are supposedly more nutrient-dense than your average apple and banana, and can provide various health benefits such as lowering the risk of cancer, shielding our bodies from cell damage, and removing toxins. Kale, blueberries, and avocados are examples of superfoods you can easily find in the supermarket. While these are more common and well-known, there are an increasing number of more exotic superfoods that are becoming something of a trend.
For example, chia seeds, which are native to Mexico, have been one of the most popular superfoods in recent times. At first glance, they may not seem like anything special, but looks can be deceiving as chia seeds actually hold great nutritional benefits. Chia just so happens to mean “strength” in the Mayan language and this is exactly the reason why Aztec warriors would consume the seeds before a battle. Furthermore, research has shown that chia seeds help promote a healthy heart and digestive system in addition to being a good source of omega 3, which we all need for good sleep, skin, and cognitive function. Moreover, chia seeds are a good substitute for ingredients such as eggs in baking, and as they can absorb up to 30 times their weight in water, they are excellent for hydration and maintaining electrolyte balance.
Quinoa is actually a type of seed and, just like chia, it comes from South America and was eaten by the Incas. It was known as the mother of grains and its great benefits explain why. It is a good source of plant-based protein and holds all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. Quinoa is also high in fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium, and folate, to name a few. If you’re following the trend of going gluten-free then quinoa is a good alternative to wheat, barley, and rye. On top of this, other proven health benefits include helping with blood sugar control as it is a low GI food, and being high in antioxidants, which neutralizes free radical damage and fights ageing – something that most people desire.
The mighty acai berry is known to have more antioxidants than blueberries and can boost the immune system as well as give you clear glowing skin by slowing the damage caused by free radicals. Acai has become somewhat the queen of berries, especially in the beauty industry, and not just because of the benefits it provides to the skin; it can also boost weight loss by suppressing the appetite and controlling blood sugar levels. It can also cleanse your digestive system and help your liver and kidneys remove waste and toxins from the body.
Spirulina may not be as popular as the other superfoods we’ve mentioned, but this blue-green algae is not something new to the scene of superfoods. In fact, it has been around for an estimated 3.5 billion years and is known for its amazing nutritional profile. Various studies have proved that spirulina increases the production of antibodies and other cells to help with immunity and therefore the prevention of certain diseases and illnesses, including cancer. If this wasn’t enough, this freshwater plant also helps to detoxify the body of metals, reduces cholesterol, and lowers blood pressure, too. Spirulina is also high in protein, making it a great option for vegans or vegetarians.
The coconut oil craze has been around for a while and people are still obsessed with this superfood. The reason behind its popularity is due to its many diverse uses. Not only can you consume it by using it as cooking oil, in place of butter in baking recipes, or for your bulletproof coffee, you can also use it externally as a natural alternative for hair and skincare. The surprising benefits of coconut oil include reducing hunger, improving blood cholesterol levels, and killing harmful microorganisms.
There is no doubt that these superfoods can give your health that extra boost. However, it is possible that the dramatic increase in attention and sales of these superfoods are also likely linked to the fact that they are not only marketed as miracle foods, but also as exotic and luxurious – meaning retailers can charge that bit extra. Furthermore, it is not always necessarily the case that the more expensive the fruit, the healthier it is for us, although the nutritional profiles of these superfoods are very impressive. It is worth noting that just like other “domestic” foods, superfoods are not all made equal and checking the source and growing practices is a good idea. Ultimately, the legitimacy of superfoods may be questioned, but if you are curious as to whether they can truly improve your health, the only sure way is to try for yourself.