If you’re researching foods to start a vegan or vegetarian diet, then you’ve probably heard of, or read about, superfoods.
While the concept is easy to understand, superfoods are very healthy foods, how do you recognize a superfood when you see it? Here are some of their common characteristics.
Most Superfoods are Plant-Based
With a few exceptions, most superfoods are vegetables or fruits that contain high amounts of antioxidants that block free radicals that can destroy cells. However, foods like some varieties of fish and seafood, plus eggs, make up some of the superfoods too.
The fish and seafood that are considered superfoods are those high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, or have high amounts of minerals, which helps the body function better.
Iron, selenium, or calcium are three such minerals. The seafood varieties include salmon, sardines, and oysters.
Superfoods are Nutritionally Dense
Whether it is plant-based foods or fish and seafood, the main thing that makes superfoods super is that they are nutritionally dense. They have high amounts of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, but they also contain high amounts of phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals are chemicals in plants that provide them with their color, aroma, and flavor. However, the main function of humans is that they stimulate chemical processes inside the body. These processes can help:
- Improve the immune system
- Block carcinogens
- Prevent damage to and repair DNA
- Slow growth of cancer cells
- Regulate hormones
- Reduce inflammation that helps cancers grow
Superfoods are often Exotic
Many of the fruits and vegetables that are superfoods are items that you may be unfamiliar with because they come from other countries. However, some exotic superfoods have become mainstream and more accessible like goji berries or acai berries.
The superfood moringa comes from a tree that is native to South Asia. The pods that grow on it contain seeds that are eaten like peas or pressed into oil.
The round leaves of the tree are eaten fresh, dried, and powdered. Moringa contains high amounts of iron, Vitamin C, potassium, and calcium.
Superfoods are Rich in Color
The easiest way to recognize a superfood is by its color. The fruits and vegetables that have the label superfoods have dark, rich colors. Blueberries, kale, dark chocolate, and black raspberries are some of the superfoods that are recognized by their rich colors.
The colors of fruits and vegetables are the result of three pigments: carotenoids, flavonoids, and chlorophyll. These three pigments are also phytochemicals, or phytonutrients, which may be able to fight against some cancers and improve bodily functions, as previously mentioned.
While you may not be able to recognize most superfoods by their appearance, you can find lists of them online with a quick search.
However, if you consider these characteristics, then you should be able to pick out some of the more obvious superfoods like blueberries, carrots, spinach, and many others.
Before trying some of the exotic superfoods, research, and experiment with how to use them to find the ones you like. Adding these foods to your diet will ensure your body gets the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals it needs to function well.