A superfood is a food rich in phytochemicals, which are special chemicals that have been noted to have disease-fighting properties. Phytochemicals can reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer, reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, or in some other way contribute to a person being healthier. When foods are high in these phytochemicals, they may be eaten not only because they taste good, but because they are good for the health too.
There are a number of superfoods, many of them derived from vegetables or fruit. Surprisingly, there are a few that most people wouldn’t normally just sit down and eat alone. For instance, cocoa is considered a superfood because it contains flavinoids, which have antioxidant properties. Most people probably wouldn’t eat raw cocoa powder, but it may be nice for people to know that their chocolate bar may make be both anti-aging and delicious.
Examples of fruits included in this category are blueberries, cranberries, red grapes, pink grapefruit, mangos, mangosteen, papaya, watermelons, and tomatoes. What makes these fruits so super is that they are packed with phytochemicals. For example, tomatoes are high in lycopene, which may reduce risk for prostate cancer, and high in beta carotene, which may promote greater mental alertness and slow conditions like Alzheimer’s. Vitamin C is another nutrient indicated in anti-aging and possible reduction in risk of developing cancer.
Some special, but not always easily obtainable, fruits are called superfruits because of their high phytochemical content, and also because they may be rare. This term is also frequently bandied about as a marketing ploy, since consumers may feel more inclined to choose a fruit that is super instead of an average ordinary fruit. This subcategory includes blueberries, cranberries, acai, goji (wolfberry), guarana, noni, mangosteen, and pomegranate.
There are plenty of vegetables that are worthy of the title superfood. There are high amounts of different phytochemicals in many leafy green vegetables. Some grains and other food additives are also considered super, including soybeans, flax seed, and quinoa. Garlic, aloe vera, honey, and any foods thought to have probiotic qualities may also be classed with this term.
With the exception of a few of the rarer foods on the list, people can provide themselves with a wealth of phytonutrients by eating a diet rich in fiber that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. In fact, it would be a mistake for people to limit their diet to only the foods on any superfood list, since other valuable nutrients could be missed. A well-rounded diet, with perhaps a few superfoods added, is probably one of the most nutritious ways to eat. People shouldn’t forget to allow themselves the occasional piece of chocolate cake or a cup of coffee, since both of these are derived from superfoods as well.