Superfood is a marketing term commonly used to describe foods with high phytonutrient content that may provide numerous health benefits.
1. Berries: Blueberries, Acai Berries, Goji Berries
Blueberries are regarded as a fruit with one of the highest antioxidant content. Its phytochemical content such as anthocyanins, flavonols and resveratrol are known to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity. Some researches have shown that it can help to lower cholesterol, total blood lipid levels and to delay or improve loss of brain and neuro-motor functions linked with aging.
Acai Berries are native to the Amazon region in South America. With its short shelf life, it is usually sold in forms of frozen puree, dried power or juice. The anthocyanins in acai give it a deep purple colour. In comparison to blueberries, acai has higher antioxidant level. It may improve cholesterol level, anticancer effect and help to boost the brain function.
Goji Berries in the market are dried and needs to be cooked or soaked before consumption. The level of beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene give it a red overall colour. It has high antioxidant content from phenolics, Vitamin C and carotenoids. Cell culture studies show indicative immune, anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
It is from the Allium (onion, leeks, chives and shallots) family. Fresh garlic contains allicin (must be activated by heat or pressure through cell rupture – cutting/smashing) that has strong anti-bacterial properties. In several mixed trials, it claim to prevent high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart diseases and cancer. Some studies show that garlic supplements may reduce the severity of flu and common cold. Other than those claims, garlic is rich in Vitamin C, B6 and manganese (aiding in metabolism and regulating blood sugar).
It is a type of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Common colour of Kale is green but it may come in purple as well. Kale has high content of Vitamin A, B6, C and K. A single cup of Kale contains Vitamin C more than an orange. Loaded with antioxidant such as quercetin and kaempferol, several studies show that it is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer; can protect the heart and lower blood pressure.
There are 3 main types of tea we can find in the market, white (dried buds), green (dried shoots) and black tea (fermented). Tea contains high amount of Catechins, which selectively inhibit specific cancer-causing enzyme activities. In several published studies, 11% of participants who drink more than 3 cups of tea daily shows lower rate of heart attacks. While people suffering from coronary heart disease showed improved blood vessel function by drinking four cups of black tea daily. Green tea and black tea can release over 80% of catechins in hot water in just 5 minutes.
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate products are derived from cacao seeds, which it is known to have high antioxidant content. Industry publicised health studies show that dark chocolate may keep platelets from clumping together and reduce the risk of blood clots. Flavonols in chocolate may help to decrease blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. However, most products in the market for chocolate are paired with fats and sugar. To have its best form, we can choose to consume pure cacao seeds or powder.
Though the above-mentioned foods are highly nutritious, it is crucial to understand that there isn’t one food that can contribute to all the nutrition and health benefits to cure or prevent diseases. Many of these claims will need more clinical studies to prove its benefits. Combining food from different food group and watching calorie limits serve as a better practice.