What is Superfood?
“Superfood” isn’t a scientific or nutritionist’s word, it is one of those invented words that marketers and people that write blogs and magazine articles like to use. The generally accepted meaning of the term is a food that has benefits beyond mere nutrition; it has healing properties.
In dietary supplements, the term “nutraceutical” was coined in 1989 by Dr. Stephen L. DeFelice to describe a supplement that has pharmaceutical benefits only without the Rx. So I will say that a superfood is the nutraceutical of natural foods.
Top 10 Superfoods List
Most articles on superfoods are in agreement as to what foods are in this class and the top ten always include:
- Walnuts (and other assorted nuts)
- Soy (or soy products)
The ranking may be different depending on who writes the article and may include an oil such as olive (extra virgin, cold pressed) or canola.
The common factors or benefits of the superfoods include
the presence of plant-derived chemicals known as phytonutrients; the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol; and providing large amounts of antioxidants that protect us from the effects of free radical damage, stress and toxins.
In addition, they bestow anti-inflammatory benefits thus warding off many chronic disease conditions that are characterized by inflammation and some even have mood-altering benefits.
Even with the superfoods, we must shop wisely and prepare them in such as way as to protect their beneficial properties. Commercial food processing, heat treating, over-cooking, preservative chemicals and the presence of heavy metals (salmon and other seafood) all degrade the goodness of the superfoods.