In the game of health-related buzz words, “superfoods” sits on the iron throne. We know we should eat them...but why? We asked Everipe’s resident Certified Holistic Chef and Nutrition Consultant Heidi Kutzelnig of Epicurean Wellness to break it down for us:
Putting the Super in Superfoods
Superfoods are mostly plant-based foods (but do include some fish and dairy) that are extremely dense in either one or more vitamins, antioxidants, or macronutrients that are beneficial to a person’s health. While all fruits and vegetables have their benefits, superfoods are known to pack an exceptional nutritional punch.
Whatever approach you take to your diet (Vegan? That's cool! Gluten Free? Awesome! Surviving on your kid’s toast crust? Been there!) the lower in sugar, bad fats, and processed food the better you’ll feel. On the flipside, focusing on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins has been known to help you feel great. Superfoods simply add to that feeling. Plus, research shows that some superfoods can help fight inflammation, prevent chronic illness, keep your mind sharp and your heart healthy. What’s exactly in them that makes them so super? Let’s break down the highlights:
Vitamins and minerals: They sort of do everything: convert food into fuel, repair cellular damage, boost your immune system, support your bones, and help your body heal.
Antioxidants: While all antioxidants work differently, together they fight free radicals, which damage your cells and the genetic material inside them.
Polyphenols: These micronutrients are packed with antioxidants and play a big roll in overall wellness (think disease prevention and cardiovascular health).
Healthy Fats: Dietary fats give your body energy, support cell growth, help your body absorb nutrients, and protect your organs. Not to mention keep you warm!
Fiber: Fiber is the part of plants your body can't digest or absorb. It keeps you regular, helps to maintain a healthy weight and can lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.
While this all sounds very-pot-of-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow, superfoods are actually quite easy to find (not to mention tasty!). For example, nutrient-rich sweet potatoes and cinnamon make the list. Sesame seeds can be considered a superfood as they are one of the highest vegan sources of calcium. The humble blueberry is at the top of the superfood chain, as it is jam packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, which help the body combat inflammation. The more exotic superfoods, like acai and goji berries, are fun to explore and experiment with, but keep in mind that there are plenty of superfoods that are both cost effective and accessible.
Generally speaking, all foods are best enjoyed in their whole form and fresh, but depending on the superfood, you will see many of them dried or preserved in some way. This increases travel resilience, shelf life, and general convenience (we love our convenience in the Western World). Keep in mind that the processing of a food affects how “super” it really is. Look for minimally invasive preservation processes, which honor the whole food (translation: doesn't remove main components of the food) like freeze dried (our personal favorite), air dried, and vacuum sealed. Other processes can contain added sugar which would be a not-so-good option, like a bottle of sweetened green tea or an acai puree with added sugar.
When it comes to health, there’s no magic trick, and the same thing applies to superfoods. They should be paired with other healthy habits like a balanced diet, regular exercise, and plenty of h20. Aim for a few servings of superfoods each week. Remember, moderation is the key! You don't need to load up on them to experience the benefits they offer.
The Definitive Guide to Everipe’s Superfoods
(and where to find them)
Mulberries: This berry adds a touch of sweetness along with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. We love them around here!
Plant-Based Hulled Hearts: This superfood is high in protein, amino acids and is an antioxidant powerhouse.
Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are our go-to source for fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Almonds: This tiny nut is packed with protein, fiber and minerals galore.
Coconut: Coconut is high in energizing healthy triglycerides.
Ginger: This spicy root improves digestion and reduces soreness.
Turmeric: Turmeric has been used medicinally centuries and increases the antioxidant capacity of the body.
Spinach: This deep green leaf is nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory and high-fiber. AKA, a wonder-leaf.
Raspberries: Raspberries are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, age-resisting, and disease-fighting. Talk about an overachiever!
Blueberries: These berries are jam packed with antioxidants, fiber, and phytonutrients that have been show to decrease the risk of heart disease.
Beet Root: Beet root improves blood quality and maintains healthy circulation.