Superfoods Explained: What makes superfoods so super?
6 minute read
We’ve all heard of the term ’superfood’, but what exactly does it mean? And are superfoods worth seeking out over other healthy foods? Read on to learn everything you need to know.
Is there any such thing as a superfood?
One of the things we hear all the time is that “there is no such thing as a superfood!” We understand why people may think this if superfoods are new to them, after all there are many foods which are also good for us - so what makes superfoods different?
In a world more health-conscious than ever it can seem as though there’s a new nutritional buzzword every other day. And it makes sense that businesses and marketing would jump on the bandwagon of naming their product a “superfood”, to elevate its perceived healthiness to consumers.
But when it comes to superfoods, those deserving of the label should wear it proudly. Superfood is not a protected or scientific term, it is simply a word used to describe foods which are very nutrient-dense. This means that they contain a whole spectrum of healthful nutrients in a very small serving.
This is important because it means that superfoods can be utilised alongside a healthy diet for an added nutrient boost. Adding just a small amount to your diet can help to boost your intake of essential nutrients, meet dietary requirements and easily support overall health and wellness.
Why not just eat regular fruit and vegetables?
Something else we are often asked is “why not just eat fresh fruit and vegetables?” The answer is nutrient-density - which is what separates superfoods from other foods which are good for us.
Firstly, we couldn’t agree more that fresh fruit and vegetables are incredibly important and extremely good for us. However, to gain their maximum benefit it is often necessary to eat a large serving of each food daily - something which many of us don't have the time, energy or money to stick to.
What's more, even if you can reliably eat an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, that would still not compare nutritionally with most superfoods.
For example, gram for gram Moringa (a super green utilised in our Green Plant Protein and Clean Greens blends) contains 7 times more Vitamin C than oranges, 4 times more Vitamin A than carrots and 3 times more potassium than bananas. This is a perfect example of nutrient-density and why it matters.
Isn't fresh always best?
Fresh fruit and vegetables are undoubtedly one of the best sources of nutrients. However, these nutrients can be preserved by freezing and also by air-drying or freeze-drying as with our superfood blends. That way, you can get the best of both worlds with fresh fruit & veg, boosted with superfood goodness.
Many of the most healthful superfoods are not actually available to enjoy fresh outside of their native countries too. Superfoods can be found across the world and 9 times out of 10 they are only eaten fresh by locals. This is because fresh fruit and vegetables are extremely perishable, meaning it is not practical to export them to other countries. Unfortunately, this means that you can’t find most superfoods in your local greengrocers or supermarket.
The good news is that the goodness of fresh superfoods can be harnessed in a superfood juice, powder or supplement. This locks in all the beneficial nutrients the food contains, removing excess water and waste products to create a lightweight, nutrient-dense powder that is more convenient to consume and far less perishable.
Most of us strive to eat our best everyday, but sometimes we struggle to have the time or availability of fresh ingredients to do so. If that sounds familiar or there are some foods which you know you don’t eat enough of (fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, probiotics, dark green veg, chia seeds) then superfoods can provide a reliable boost of the same healthy nutrients in a simple, easy and delicious powder.
In summary, we are huge believers in eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruit and veggies which are packed with amazing nutrients. Our superfood blends are not replacements for these foods, but can be enjoyed alongside them for an added boost to conveniently and reliably top up your intake of essential nutrients.
What makes a Superfood?
There is no set criteria when it comes to defining a superfood but the clue is in the name – they’re foods which are super good for you. Once more, this all comes down to nutrient-density and superfoods are those which are incredibly nutritious even in small amounts.
Superfoods tend to give us a whole spectrum of goodness within a small serving, so that having just a teaspoon could be enough to benefit your health. Here are some of the main nutrients which most superfoods provide a rich source of.
- Vitamins – These are needed by every cell in the body and help us to perform hundreds of essential daily functions. Vitamins help us to grow, develop, repair and energise as well as protecting us from disease and boosting our immune system.
Minerals – Minerals and trace minerals are essential to normal daily functioning, supporting nerve transmission, muscle contraction and fluid balance, as well as being the building blocks for healthy bones and teeth.
Powerful Antioxidants – Perhaps the most healthful nutrient of all, antioxidants work to protect us from damage and promote health at a cellular level. They fight off damaging free radicals – which are often the root cause of inflammation and disease. Think of them as the bodyguards of the cells, if it isn’t good for us – it isn't getting in!
Plant Compounds - Studies have consistently shown that certain nutrients found only in plants such as polyphenols, flavonoids and phytochemicals are linked with reduced risk of several diseases. These nutrients are thought to be just one reason why a plant-based diet is linked with improved health outcomes and increased longevity.
Adaptogens - Perhaps the most unique property of superfoods is their adaptogenic function. Adaptogens are foods which can help the body to overcome stress and maintain hormonal balance, for overall mental and physical health & resilience. Only a handful of foods across the globe have been shown to be natural adaptogens, and this is one property which you definitely won’t find in your usual fruit and veg.
Polysaccharides - Research has shown that polysaccharides found in plants have specific benefits for immune function including antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. Another food rich in beneficial polysaccharides which is not actually a plant is mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms which are technically a fungus are potent in triterpenoids, polysaccharides renowned for their immune enhancing function. Medicinal mushrooms are also rich in beta glucans, a type of soluble fibre which works with the gut to boost immunity.
- Healthy Fats - We know that not all fat is created equal, some types are bad for us and others are essential for health. One good way to know which fats are useful and which could be harmful is to consider their source - if they’re found naturally in plant-based foods then they’re sure to be good for you, whereas is they’re added to junk food then they are almost certainly bad for you. Superfoods plants can be rich in beneficial healthy fats including monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Most superfoods will provide a whole spectrum of these amazing nutrients, which is what separates the superfoods from the regular foods. Overall, they’re the full package when it comes to optimising nutritional status – providing many different essential nutrients and numerous health benefits in relatively small doses.
The Amazing Health Benefits of Superfoods
Whilst some dietitians and nutritionists may argue that the term' ‘superfood’ is not a scientific term, one thing which everyone can agree on is that nutrient-dense superfoods can have a number of health benefits when eaten often. Taken daily, superfoods help us to look, feel and be great!
Here are just a few health benefits of superfoods.
Boost the Immune System – Vitamins and minerals found in superfoods support your body’s natural immune function, helping it to fight off damage and prevent disease. Having a strong immune system isn’t just good for prevention but also helps us to heal quicker. So, by supporting your immune system you can quickly get back to your normal self as well as staying stronger and better protected year-round!.
Stay energised – Micronutrients found in superfoods help to digest and absorb protein, fat and carbs found in other foods. This helps to energise us throughout the day, in a natural and sustainable way. Having more energy will also have a positive effect on your motivation levels, concentration and mood.
Anti-Inflammatory – One of the biggest benefits of including superfoods in your diet is the effect they have on reducing inflammation. The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in superfoods have been shown to have anti-inflammatory activity at a cellular level, which is the root cause of many health problems.
Look as Good as you Feel – When it comes to nutrition, beauty starts from within. There’s not a cosmetic product out there that can mask the effects of a bad diet and lifestyle. Getting the right nutrition helps your body to regenerate cells, stay hydrated and reduce the impact ageing has on our appearance.
Nurture Better Mental Health – Many of the nutrients found in superfoods have been shown to boost brain health and support mental wellbeing. Studies have found that superfoods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help to improve mental clarity, banish brain fog and improve concentration - as well as reduce the risk of some mental health conditions.
Optimise Nutritional Status - Superfoods are a convenient way to bridge the gap between dietary intake and requirements. Topping up your diet with superfoods rich in essential nutrients (such as Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and micronutrients like magnesium, potassium, manganese and calcium) can also be helpful when following a calorie deficit diet for weight loss. What’s more, superfoods can be a natural and more bioavailable alternative to nutritional supplements - especially synthetic supplements.
- Improve Cardiovascular & Heart Health - Superfoods can hep to promote hormonal balance, as well as regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. This has a number of benefits for heart health and the cardiovascular system. including lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease.
- Reduce the Risk of Chronic Diseases - Elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels are all known to be important risk factors for chronic diseases including Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
Enjoying superfoods as part of your daly routine is a simple, easy and effective way to take a proactive approach to optimising your health and wellness.
Superfood Powders & Supplements
By extracting the potent power of plants, we can utilise superfoods for their functional benefits – taking them daily to optimise our nutrition and support overall health and wellbeing.
Many people rely on vitamin and mineral capsules for this same reason, but the trouble is that there is only so much nutrition you can fit inside a capsule. Whilst superfoods can provide amazing health benefits in small doses, the impact of supplements is often limited by the small space they’re given to occupy in capsules and tablets. What’s more, many of the nutrients in multivitamin and mineral capsules are often synthetic and so more difficult for the body to absorb and utilise.
In comparison, superfood blends utilise multiple natural wholefoods, extracting their goodness and blending them together to provide a whopping dose of nutrients in every scoop. Simply add to food and drinks for your daily dose of goodness, with the added bonus of the incredible taste and colour of nature’s finest ingredients!
Rheal Superfood Blends
Rheal superfood blends are designed to make healthy eating simple, convenient and delicious - without costing the earth.
We extract the goodness of all natural superfoods and blend them together to deliver a potent superfood boost in a powder you can easily enjoy as part of your usual daily routine.
We love combining superfood powders with fresh ingredients to get the best of both worlds and an unbeatably nourishing diet. For example, Clean Greens is a great addition to smoothies with fresh leafy greens like swiss chard and collard greens. You can also add Berry Beauty, which contains acai berry and macqui berry, to recipes which use fresh berries such as blueberries, cranberries and goji berries.
That way you can take your healthy lifestyle to the next level with fresh fruit and veg, boosted with potent and unique superfood nutrients. Or if you're in a hurry or on the move, simply mix with water and enjoy for the same amazing benefits.
You won’t find any hidden nasties in any of our blends, just 100% natural goodness that’s gluten and diary free – and tastes amazing! Check out the full range of Rheal Superfoods here.
- What is Oxidative Stress? - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10693912
- Effect of Antioxidant Supplements on the Ageing Process - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685276/
- The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Energy Metabolism and Wellbeing - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6243342_The_Role_of_Vitamins_and_Minerals_in_Energy_Metabolism_and_Well-Being
- Superfoods: Recent Data on their Role in the Prevention of Diseases - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6243342_The_Role_of_Vitamins_and_Minerals_in_Energy_Metabolism_and_Well-Being