What is superfood?
The term superfood is defined as a variety of exotic and regional foods that have a positive effect on the human body respectively a higher health benefit than other foods due to their exceptional or particularly high dosed nutrients.
Superfoods usually contain high concentrations of natural vitamins, antioxidants as well as healthy plant substances, minerals and trace elements.
With them, they ensure that you can improve your concentration, have no more ravenous hunger attacks and feel fitter overall and more powerful. You do something good for your health without restricting yourself - because they taste good! Apart from the fact that superfoods are generally good for health, it is suspected that they also explicitly prevent or cure diseases. However, as no long-term scientific studies with corresponding evidence are available yet, this point is a questionable. You can read more about superfoods and health below.
Superfood in criticism
In recent years, the term has gained in importance, especially in advertising. More and more companies are using it to market their products.
Surely you have heard of critical opinions stating that superfood are a pure advertising fantasy. To some extent, the criticism is justified but not universally valid.
Therefore, you should always distinguish between the different superfoods. Those that are indeed super and those that just pretend to be super.
Are there typical superfood examples?
When you hear the term superfood, you probably think of exotic foods such as chia seeds, matcha, açai and goji berries or avocados. This is typical superfood that is almost everywhere emphasized as an example.
For this reason, superfood is criticized just as often. Thereby it is stated that exotic superfoods (also known as superfruits in fruit form) are barely healthier, especially because of pesticides and bacteria, and mostly too expensive. In addition that the ultimate health effect hardly justifies the long transport routes.
While the worries about pesticides, bacteria and transport routes are arguable, the high price is in fact a non-negligible argument. After all, a packet of dried goji berries at 300 grams, for example, costs up to 15 euros in retail!
Slow food as a regional superfood alternative
But did you know that many regional foods are also considered as superfood (in this form also called «slow food»)? And that they even can come from the farm next door?
Affordable slow food almost completely eliminates the above critical arguments regarding exotic superfoods.
For example, the whole range of homegrown berries such as raspberries, blueberries and currants are almost as super as açai and goji berries. Also considered as slow food are many regional cabbage varieties, linseeds, chard, rocket, nuts, paprika and more.
As a side note: Green vegetable superfoods are often referred to as «greens» in short form.
Below you find a shortlist of the best superfoods, sorted by «exotic» and «homegrown» (regional).
By the way, superfood is also available as capsules. They contain the same healthy nutrients as superfood in dried form. But you can consume them faster and they are always available. This is especially worthwhile if you do not have much time to deal with a healthy nutrition.
|Examples of exotic superfood||Examples of homegrown superfood|
|Pomegranates||Tomatoes and broccoli|
|Açai berries and goji berries||Berries such as currants|
Where does the hype around superfoods come from?
The hype around superfoods is mainly due to the increasing awareness of people for sustainable lifestyles.
Like you, a lot of people did not want to fall into a midday coma anymore. They also longed for a sense of lightness and more exceptional and healthy foods on their menu.
Because everyone knows the weakening effects of long working days and stressful situations. The same applies for the issue that there is very little time and motivation left for active physical activities after work.
Therefore, more and more people switched to a healthy vital diet. Thus enjoying a lasting energy effect and putting health and physical fitness not only on a few evening hours.
Unclear origin of the superfood term
In retrospect, it is difficult to determine exactly where the hype came from and when it arose. But it is clear that superfood is a topic of the past few years. At some point it just became a matter of discussion and with more and more media reports and company advertising it became a movement.
There are also no clear findings as to whom used the term superfoods for the first time.
One cannot even tell if the peak of the hype has already been reached or if the real hype is just beginning. Actually, the hype consists of media still reporting on superfoods on a massive scale and companies often advertising with them. But in fact not that many people consciously integrate at least a selection of exotic or homegrown superfood into their diet.
|Superfood(s)||Superfood comprises a large number of exotic and regional foods that have a positive effect on the human body respectively a higher health benefit than other foods due to their exceptional or particularly high dosed nutrients.|
|Slow Food||Slow food is the term used to describe local respectively regional superfoods. In terms of contained healthy nutrients they are comparable with exotic superfoods, yet they do not cause significant environmental pollution during food transport.|
|Superfruits||Superfruits are exotic fruit superfoods from overseas and distant regions.|
|Greens (superveggies)||Greens refer to all green superfoods (mainly vegetables). Often slow food.|
Superfood shortly summarized?
- The Plus for your health: Foods with particular, health-promoting ingredients.
- Multi-talented: Rich in vitamins, antioxidants and other healthy nutrients.
- Prevention: Disease prevention, although no long-term studies exist so far.
- Wide variety: Especially exotic as well as regional fruits, vegetables and berries.
- Exotic or homegrown: While exotic fruits are also called «superfruits», regional superfoods are often referred to as «slow food».
- Be critical: No advertising bubble, as long as you can distinguish between real and probably fake superfoods.
- As a daily ritual: Also available as capsules, so you can consume them quickly and have them available at any time.
Are there any scientific studies on superfoods?
With regard to scientific studies, the world of superfoods is neither «black» nor «white» at the same time. It depends on what kind of scientific studies you are looking for and which experts you are asking.
Nowadays, there are a large number of study and research results from laboratory tests and animal experiments that prove the positive effects of superfood. These study results have even been recognized by the European Food Information Council and are therefore official. Even if the Information Council is expressing a residual doubt that the findings can be fully transferred to humans.
The Health Claims Regulation of the European Union is also referred to in this context. This regulation requires that superfoods can only become official superfoods if they have undergone a strict approval process. In the approval procedure, the basic health-promoting efficacy of the food must be permanently proven in humans.
Superfoods do not cure diseases
Claims that superfood, with its health benefits, can prevent or cure serious diseases such as cancer could not have been confirmed by experts to date. In the same way, it is not possible to attest that one can lose weight with superfoods (more about this in the following). This would require official and complicated research studies, which do not exist yet.
The cancer example refers, for example, to blueberries. They belong to a group of foods that contain high concentrations of detoxifying anthocyanins. Anthocyanins slow down the growth of cancer cells in the colon and kill some of them. However, no expert has yet been able to prove that a person did not develop colon cancer because she respectively he ate blueberries and other anthocyanin-containing foods. This also applies to related claims that are referring to other superfoods.
Question such health claims and at best do not believe them! At least until serious scientific research studies come up that are recognized by expert bodies and substantiate such claims one-to-one.
Does superfood really help you lose weight?
The topic of slimming is particularly interesting with a view to superfood. Because if you look for appropriate methods to lose weight, you will quickly find websites with tempting statements. There it is pretended for example that others could lose «X» kilograms of weight with superfood only.
But here we are talking about a «black» and a «white» at the same time. Superfood can certainly help you lose weight respectively becoming slim. But consuming only superfood is by no means enough. You have to generally pay attention to a healthy diet (also beyond superfoods) and do a lot of sport. Only then, your body gets into a rhythm that enables you to lose weight. If you eat a lot of superfood but do not exercise, getting slim is either not working at all or taking a long time. All the experts agree on this point.
How do superfood nutrients affect the body?
Superfood contains many different nutrients that have a positive effect on body, mind and soul. It is well known that the human body needs a certain amount of plant substances, minerals, trace elements and vitamins every day.
Once the daily required intake is covered, we feel fit and full of energy, can concentrate and stay healthy. If an unbalanced diet leads to a deficiency (e.g. a vitamin deficiency), we perceive opposite symptoms. These can express themselves in many different ways.
Superfood is highly dosed
The best thing about superfoods is that you only need to eat a small amount of them to meet the daily needs of nutrients, which they contain. In addition, you can use them to quite easily compensate for potential nutrient deficiencies.
The following tables outline the effects specific nutrients have in the body according to the current state of research.
|Vitamin||Effect in the body|
|Vitamin B complex|
(B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12)
|Vitamin B complexes have a positive effect on the body's metabolism. They also help to build blood cells as well as tissue and contribute to the body's own resources to combat harmful cells.|
|Vitamin C||Vitamin C, with its contained antioxidants, primarily strengthens the immune system. However, it also enhances wound healing after injuries and strengthens the connective tissue for better absorption of iron.|
|Vitamin A||Vitamin A improves vision, especially at night. It also favours cell growth, skin and mucous membrane formation, bone formation and explicitly protein metabolism.|
|Vitamin D||Vitamin D supports the body mainly in bone and muscle building. However, only about ten percent of the need can be covered by food intake. The sun is responsible for the rest.|
|Vitamin E||In addition to vitamin C, vitamin E has a positive effect on the immune system and also regulates the cholesterol level.|
|Vitamin K||Vitamin K is of great importance for blood clotting and improves rapid hemostasis in the case of injury. It also strengthens the bones.|
|Mineral | Trace element | Dietary fibre||Effect in the body|
|Calcium | Phosphorus||Calcium and phosphorus have a positive effect on dental health. Calcium is also very important for the blood and contributes to essential metabolic processes. Phosphorus in turn is jointly responsible for the formation of new cell walls.|
|Magnesium||Magnesium has many important areas of use, including the transmission of nerve impulses, adrenaline unloading and activation of various metabolic enzymes in the body.|
|Sodium | Potassium||Sodium and potassium are charged particles, through which nerve impulses can be transmitted to the cell membranes. In addition to impulse transmission, they support the heart’s rhythm and the work of the body muscles.|
|Iron||Only through iron, the inhaled oxygen can reach the bloodstream and supply the body accordingly.|
|Zinc||Zinc strengthens the immune system similar to the various vitamins. It also stimulates physical growth and is responsible for cell division and thus, for example, wound healing after injuries.|
|Copper||In addition to iron, copper is of great importance for the oxygen supply of the body's cells and the electron transport, i.e. the transmission of nerve impulses.|
|Dietary fibres||Dietary fibres are among other things important for a regular and healthy digestion.|
What exactly does superfood do with the body?
The tables (see above) make it very clear that not the superfoods as such act as a medicine against illnesses or prevent them. But that the nutrients, which they contain, are gratefully absorbed by the body and exert their corresponding health-promoting effects.
At best, this can help prevent and combat illnesses. Simply by creating optimal physical conditions, in which the body can get well on its own. However, it is not guaranteed that recovery is possible without further aids. From the scientific point of view, this is the biological contradiction to exaggerated advertising statements of many food manufacturers.
Health = nutrition + exercise | relaxation
Normally superfood contains several of the nutrients listed in the tables (see above) in an increased concentration. So, the direct effects of superfood in the form of better concentration and more vital feeling are not a matter of chance. The activating nutrients ensure among other things an improved transmission of nerve impulses, enabling you to concentrate better. The vitamins in turn do their usual job. Making you feel strengthened, fit and healthy all over your body.
Note, however, that for this effect you must consume superfood regularly and not just occasionally. Otherwise, it always feels just like a small power boost, which then fades away again. Consider also that the body needs exercise and activity. Superfoods are only one side of the coin. On the other side there is an individual sport and fitness program.
What are the summarized benefits of superfoods?
- Health advantage: According to experts, it is true that superfood has a beneficial effect on health.
- No proven medicine: Until today, research has not been able to prove that superfood alone is a concrete medicine against diseases and illnesses.
- Preventive source of strength: Superfoods help to create optimal conditions to stay healthy by providing the nutrients, required by the body, in sufficient quantities.
- Keep moving: Not only consume superfoods, but also exercise enough and be physically active, especially if you have an office job.
In which forms is superfood available?
Meanwhile you can find superfood in many different forms. For one thing, as stand-alone food in its original raw and untreated form or dried in particular for superfoods from overseas. Secondly, as an ingredient of several in already processed products. Here, healthy smoothies, juices, shakes and other drinks stand out. Just the same as particular salad products for lunch break, such as a tasty quinoa or beetroot salad.
Fruit and vegetable capsules resp. powder
In addition, you can also buy superfood highly concentrated in powder form or as capsules. Well-known examples of superfood powders are matcha and dark cocoa varieties. To take powders, you dissolve them in water for example. Unfortunately, this is rarely a special treat taste wise. Here capsules, which you can take easily and tastelessly, are clearly more advantageous.
Powder and capsules are a reasonable partial substitute for the «right foods». You do not have to spend time looking for, buying and prepare them. But you take superfood simply in the form of powder or capsules and have a comparable effect.
What are the differences as well as advantages and disadvantages of the individual superfood forms?
|Raw and unprocessed food from the region (slow food)|
|Raw and unprocessed food from exotic resp. distant regions|
|Dried food from exotic regions|
|Convenience products such as smoothies, juices and shakes|
|Highly concentrated powders and capsules|
Where can you buy which kind of superfood?
Basically, you can buy superfood at many different places: In supermarkets, at weekly and organic markets, in health food stores and alternative shops, drugstores, pharmacies as well as online. Where exactly you can buy which superfood, decides on the form of the superfoods.
Slow food from the region, raw and unprocessed
So-called slow food - regional berries, cabbage varieties and more - can be found in every supermarket and in particular at weekly and organic markets. Especially on the markets you can assume that you get absolutely fresh and regional food directly from the field. By buying them you are doing something good for the further regional cultivation as well as the people behind it.
You can ensure a particularly intense taste experience if you buy the nourishments not only regionally and seasonally but also in organic quality. Furthermore, there are various advantages of slow food, as listed in the tables above.
Raw and unprocessed food from exotic resp. distant regions
At our latitudes it is much more difficult to find raw and unprocessed food from exotic and distant regions, because in particular fruits and berries are mainly imported as dry goods.
You probably find some selected foods, including pomegranates and avocados, in the next supermarket. Also spices like turmeric and the necessary ingredients to prepare hummus, for example. In terms of superfoods like matcha or chia seeds, however, many supermarkets offer no choice. Here, health food stores, alternative shops and possibly also drugstores may be helpful. If not, you should give one of the various online shops a try, which meanwhile have specialized for such foods.
Dried food from exotic regions
Even if they are very difficult to find here in raw form, you do not have to do without exotic superfoods respectively superfruits. Just in dried form.
Dried açai berries or goji berries, for example, have become an integral part of various product assortments. In supermarkets you can be lucky to find these products in hidden corners. Otherwise it is recommendable to visit health food stores, alternative shops, drugstores and online shops as already mentioned. Some pharmacies also have dried exotic superfoods respectively superfruits in their range.
Convenience products such as smoothies, juices and shakes
Smoothies, juices, shakes, drinks, salads, guacamole, ready-to-eat hummus or many other products can definitively be found in every well-assorted supermarket. Only in case of very special products, you probably need to refer to one of the other places as stated before.
Highly concentrated powders and capsules
Highly concentrated superfood in the form of powder and capsules can be mainly found in various online shops.
Make sure, however, that you only take powders and capsules with ingredients that you can tolerate. Incompatibilities and allergies to certain ingredients can lead to unpleasant side effects.
In a few words: What must be considered if you want to buy superfood?
- The form decides: Depending on the individual superfood forms it is predetermined where you can buy them ideally.
- Places to buy: In supermarkets, weekly markets, organic markets, health food stores, alternative shops, drugstores, pharmacies or also in online shops.
- Regional and seasonal: Weekly and organic markets are particularly recommended for regional, seasonal food respectively slow food.
- Dried exotic: Over here you can buy many exotic superfoods respectively superfruits nearly solely dried.
- Similar prices: It does not matter whether you buy your superfood in a health food store or drugstore, because the prices hardly differ.
Admittedly, so far, we have nearly solely spoken about superfoods, yet not about superfruits. But you do not have to worry about further definitions. Superfruits is merely a specific term for the exotic fruits among the superfoods. Strictly speaking, all berries also count in here, but in this case, they get an extra category.
Regarding fruits and superfruits you are almost spoilt by choice.
- Bananas homegrown exotic
- Coconut exotic
- Apples homegrown
- Grapefruits exotic
- Aronia exotic
- Camu Camu exotic
- Cherries homegrown
- Rosehips homegrown
- Acerola exotic
- Baobab exotic
- Lemons and limes homegrown exotic
- Pomegranates exotic
- Oranges exotic
- Almonds homegrown exotic
- Avocados exotic
- Strawberries homegrown
- Kiwis exotic
- Tomatoes homegrown
Surely you were aware before that bananas, apples and tomatoes are healthy. But did you also know that they belong on the list of the best fruits superfoods? Just like strawberries and cherries, which have always been part of summer. This means that all these fruits can do much more than probably expected. Thus, this list includes the regional everyday classics right next to the new exotic trend foods. Among these trends are for example the avocado, the pomegranate and the baobab fruits of the African baobab tree. Besides it should be pointed out that the also listed Camu Camu fruit is the one with the highest vitamin C concentration in the world.
This list shows that you can enjoy fruits, which you have been consuming for a long time, even more now. And that you can supplement them with exotic superfruits that you have not known before. They are all united by a rich supply of vitamins and antioxidants.
Vegetables resp. «greens» (superveggies - often slow food)
In the field of superfood, vegetables are also quite simply called «greens». In comparison to the fruit list, there are two main distinguishing characteristics: On the one hand, the list is much shorter. On the other hand, there are far more homegrown than exotic superveggies.
- Various homegrown cabbage varieties homegrown
Like kale, white cabbage, red cabbage or Brussels sprouts.
- Various homegrown leaf salads homegrown
Like lettuce, iceberg lettuce or lamb's lettuce.
- Broccoli homegrown
- Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds homegrown
- Ginger and turmeric exotic
- Maca tubers exotic
- Red beet homegrown
- Spinach homegrown
In summary, the list of greens includes almost the complete vegetable assortment of every supermarket and weekly market.
They are especially rich in valuable minerals and trace elements. In addition, there is also a small element of surprise included here. The fact that spinach is a superfood should already have been clear to anyone before. But did you also know that all leaf salads, which are used again and again for various salad creations, are belonging to the superfood greens as well? So, the next salad creation probably tastes even better ;-) And if you cook a little more heartily, then use ginger and turmeric. Alternatively, you can also make a fine tea from ginger.
Together with the fruits, one thing is clear at this point: You can buy almost everything that supermarkets and weekly markets offer in fruit and vegetables. Thereby you have a large number of delicious regional superfoods in your shopping cart, which are good for your body!
With the berries it is getting very interesting now. It could best be described as a kind of a clash between homegrown and exotic berries.
Many people disagree, as to which berry is the best. Some believe that açai berries and goji berries are the second to none. Others, on the other hand, put the blueberry on the top of their list. But at first take a look at the berries that deserve the label «superfood».
In theory, all the berries listed here belong to the fruit category. In order to ease the understanding, these two superfood types have been separated from each other.
- Açai berries exotic
- Blackberries homegrown
- Cranberries exotic
- Goji berries exotic
- Blueberries homegrown
- Raspberries homegrown
- Currants homegrown
The list of the best superfood berries is almost equally divided into exotic and homegrown berries. All of them contain healthy nutrients in the form of many vitamins and antioxidants. Also, certain higher concentrations of these can easily be found in most of the exotic berries. Besides, these berries just taste different than anything you have ever experienced before.
Nevertheless, they are - in the opinion of many people - not fundamentally better. Usually they are sold only dried over here. Otherwise they would not survive the long transport route from America or the Far East respectively solely by using chemicals. For this reason alone, many people reject large quantities of exotic superfood berries. They believe that the effort, particularly with an eye on the transport route, is not justified in relation to the added value. And then refer to the local slow food berries.
But to balance the discussion: Of course, you can and should also try the exotic berries once. However, the focus should be on the homegrown berries – even just because of the price. In addition, their nutrients come very close to the exotic berry species from distant regions!
Seeds and grasses
With regard to seeds and grasses, there is no clash as with the berries. However, there are also disagreements as to whether the widely praised chia seeds and quinoa are really better than native seeds. In many blogs and magazines linseeds are promoted as an equivalent alternative. Even oat flakes are mentioned in some places before chia seeds.
So, the best thing you can do here as well, is to get your own picture of the many different products. Find out, what tastes best for you and what you can procure and prepare best. All of them have very healthy trace elements and fibres on board.
- Chia seeds exotic
- Linseeds homegrown
- Amaranth exotic
- Spelt grass homegrown
- Barley grass homegrown
- Wheatgrass homegrown
- Sunflower seeds homegrown
- Hemp seeds exotic
- Oat flakes homegrown
- Quinoa exotic
By the way: Hemp seeds have no intoxicating effect and are allowed to be consumed without further ado. Good to know: They are rich in protein!
In the context of hemp seeds it is only forbidden to plant them. Because theoretically they can become a real cannabis plant ;-)
As soon as the statement is made that you can eat algae (sometimes also referred to as seaweed), many people turn up their noses and can imagine everything except that. However, in principle microalgae and marine algae are foods like all others and contain many health-supporting nutrients. These are mainly antioxidants, minerals and dietary fibres. Chlorella algae alone contains 19 different amino acids, which are playing an important role in the body.
In addition, it is no longer anything crazy to eat algae. Sushi, among others, has long since made algae socially acceptable. Usually, such an artwork made of fish, rice and vegetables is wrapped in a sheet of Nori algae, which you will find in the following list among others:
- Spirulina algae* exact origin unknown
- Chlorella algae* exact origin unknown
- Nori algae exact origin unknown
- Kombu algae exact origin unknown
- Wakame algae exact origin unknown
* As these are microalgae, algae marked with an asterisk are only available as powder or capsules and in certain smoothies. The mentioned other algae are available fresh or dried in selected shops and restaurants. Even in the supermarket, you can be lucky to get algae.
The category of «other superfoods» includes all exceptionally healthy foods that are difficult to assign to other categories.
Accordingly, the following superfood list is the shortest of all. Also nuts belong to it, although one could also count them to the category of fruits. In a similar way as the berries.
- Cocoa (raw) exotic
- Matcha exotic
- Hummus or chickpeas exotic
- Various nuts homegrown exotic
Like untreated peanuts, Brazil nuts or walnuts (contain a lot of healthy fats and fibres, although the high calorie content needs to be considered).
Did you know that chocolate is by no means unhealthy? - Now probably everyone who has a passionate sweet tooth is awake ;-)
But it must be put it into perspective, because it depends on the type of chocolate. If you eat the right chocolate, you will notice how it drives your body and mind. The term «right chocolate» refers to chocolate with a very high cocoa content of 70 percent upwards and a very low sugar content.
But you have to like it, because natural cocoa has a rather bitter taste while milk chocolate is known to taste nicely sweet. Ultimately, it is all about the raw cocoa, which, like all other superfoods, carries many healthy nutrients. If a sufficient amount of it is present in a chocolate or a drink, its contained nutrients do have a correspondingly health-promoting effect on you.
Apart from that, the list also includes chickpeas needed for the preparation of hummus. But you can also simply roast them seasoned or unseasoned and nibble them during evenings in front of the TV. A very healthy snack!
Which superfood should definitely be on your tasting list?
It is showdown time. Basing on the above categorized superfood lists, there shall be a final trial list.
To say that you should try everything you have not known so far, would be too easy. Instead, two superfoods were selected from each category, which you should definitely have tasted. Strictly speaking, this is THE list of the best and most exceptional superfoods.
- Fruits (superfruits)
It is hard to pick out two of so many fruits. Since you are surely already familiar with many of the regional fruit varieties, here are some recommended that you probably have not eaten too often as an inexperienced superfood consumer.
Baobab and avocados. Baobab due to the fact that this African fruit is largely unknown. Avocados because of their good availability, healthy fats and many preparing options. You can for example enjoy them on bread with feta cheese or as delicious creamy guacamole.
- Vegetables resp. «greens» (superveggies - often slow food)
Since there are so many native and accustomed vegetables on the list, a selection is also more difficult here. However, with kale and ginger or turmeric, two great recommendations are made.
Kale because you certainly know the hearty winter vegetable, but have not yet thought about smoothies, salads and pans with kale. Ginger and turmeric because you can almost always use them when cooking and thereby give each dish a very special touch.
In principle, you cannot do anything wrong with any of the berries, especially the homegrown ones. You get them almost everywhere and they are simply delicious.
If you want to focus yourself, opt for dried goji berries and blueberries. Both are a real treat now and again. You can also mix them with yoghurts or use them in other ways.
- Seeds and grasses
Generally speaking, all seeds and grasses are recommendable as well. However, to limit your options chia seeds or alternatively linseeds and quinoa are especially worthwhile. Chia seeds are one of the big superfood trends, even if there are homegrown flax seeds, which are pretty much comparable. Quinoa can be used for many tasty dishes and salads.
Let your creativity run wild! Or just buy good convenience food that contains healthy seeds and grasses.
It must be admitted that not everyone likes algae respectively seaweeds and that they are more likely to be found in ready-made products. In that sense, no recommendation shall be made here.
If you want to try algae, watch out for special smoothies or other possibilities and just have a go.
- Other superfoods
To make two recommendations in the last category would not be appropriate when considering the narrow selection.
Therefore, if you would like to try one of these superfoods such as cocoa, matcha or hummus, just seize the opportunity and enjoy!