Foods termed "superfoods" are believed to have profoundly positive effects on health. It is evident that our modern-day diet is far from optimal. While many people are familiar with greasy takeaways and processed foods, not as many comprehend the advantages of superfoods. With a better understanding of what these foods can do for us, more individuals might choose superfoods over takeaways from time to time. It's important to note that not all indulgences need to be eliminated but rather reserved as occasional treats rather than an everyday norm.
Although "superfood" is a widely used term, it lacks a specific definition. Instead, it's used to describe foods with high nutritional value and a composition that contributes to the proper maintenance of the body. Research indicates that superfoods are an excellent way to enhance health, boost the immune system, and potentially elevate serotonin levels. However, it's worth acknowledging that superfoods often come with a higher price tag, considering the benefits they offer supermarkets as well.
Blueberries are widely available superfoods that are commonly associated with the term. This association primarily stems from the high antioxidant capacity of their polyphenolic compounds. However, the direct activation of these polyphenolic compounds appears to be unlikely due to their poor bioavailability. Increasing evidence suggests that blueberries can reduce biomarkers and the risk of various diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and neurological decline. This beneficial effect has been observed with a daily intake as small as one-third of a cup of blueberries.
Anthocyanins, a group of deep red, purple, and blue pigments found in plants, are present in blueberries. With regular consumption, these anthocyanins can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and death and aid in weight maintenance. Research shows an association between higher anthocyanin intake and a reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality, primarily due to a decrease in cardiovascular mortality risk. Increased consumption of blueberries, strawberries, and total anthocyanins has been linked to a decreased risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Tree nuts and peanuts
Nuts are highly nutrient-dense foods, comprised of complex matrices rich in unsaturated fatty compounds. These compounds include vegetable proteins, fiber, minerals, and phenolic compounds. Studies have associated nut consumption with a reduction in coronary heart disease and gallstones. Given that inflammation plays a crucial role in atherogenesis (the formation of atherosclerotic plaques), the consumption of nuts may lower the risk of coronary heart disease by mitigating inflammation. This effect can be assessed by examining circulating inflammatory markers.
An investigation involving over 6,000 participants demonstrated an inverse relationship between nut consumption and levels of inflammatory markers. Another study focusing on diabetic women revealed an association between nut consumption and anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and radishes, are rich in nutritional content and serve as excellent sources of dietary fiber. They also contain bioactive compounds known as glucosinolates and S-methyl cysteine sulfoxide, some of which exhibit cancer-protective properties. Cancer stands as a leading cause of human mortality, and the cancer death rate is projected to rise.
Connections between diet, environment, and cancer risk have been established. For instance, colorectal cancer has been correlated with the consumption of red meat and processed foods. Conversely, the consumption of fruits and vegetables acts as a safeguard against factors contributing to colon cancer.
The glucosinolates present in cruciferous vegetables contribute positively to human health. Through processes of preparation, chewing, and digestion, these vegetables break down into compounds such as glucosinolates. These compounds have been demonstrated to possess anti-cancer, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties.
Here are just a few examples of the many superfoods available: It's evident that a significant number of modern individuals aren't consuming appropriate diets, often relying heavily on processed and fast foods. The advantages of these superfoods have been consistently reported. Replacing a processed food with a superfood is likely to yield positive health effects. Other notable superfoods include spinach, salmon, avocado, sweet potatoes, various berries, and fish.