Your diet makes a difference. Consuming foods delivering all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients your body needs to thrive increases your energy levels, supports your immune system and other bodily functions and can even improve your appearance to a degree.
Yet, getting in a full spectrum of nutrients often requires a strategic approach with your diet - one that involves consuming a variety or large quantities of certain ingredients. As a more streamlined approach, superfoods have started receiving attention in recent years for the combined nutritional benefits offered.
Yet, what gets defined as a superfood isn't always clear. Learn more about what constitutes a superfood and how adding these ingredients to your diet can enhance your wellness routine and health as a whole:
What are the Superfoods?
No single definition of a superfood exists. Rather, each one serves as a nutritional powerhouse, delivering an above-average amount of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber per serving and in relation to calories. This vast group ranges from fruits and vegetables to select dairy, fish and meat to tea.
Broad, not always uniformly applied attributes include:
- High levels of antioxidants, known to manage the damaging effects of free radicals in your body and help control inflammation, which can contribute to the development of various chronic conditions.
- Immune-boosting properties, which help your body better fight off infections.
- Vitamins, with superfoods providing a broader spectrum or higher concentrations of a specific nutrient.
- High concentrations of minerals that your body requires, including iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium, among others.
- Fiber, which can help you feel full, feeds your gut microbiome and may play a role in reducing heart disease and type 2 diabetes risks.
- Healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that, contrary to popular belief, assist with managing cholesterol levels.
Tea as a Superfood
Chances are, you've seen tea, especially green varieties, branded as a superfood. Like other superfoods, tea is sourced from plants, but its status comes from a mix of the following:
- Ability to improve hydration.
- High levels of antioxidants per serving and in relation to calories.
- Catechins, a type of antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects that can fight cellular damage and may lower risks for certain chronic diseases.
The Benefits of Superfoods
In considering the overarching effects of your wellness routine, superfoods deliver the following:
Enhancing Your Health
While superfoods are no substitute for medical guidance, incorporating them into a well-balanced diet can:
- Maintain heart health and lower heart disease risks.
- Help you manage high cholesterol.
- Aid your weight loss efforts.
- Reduce the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging.
- Help reduce risks for cancer.
- Help lower risks for type 2 diabetes.
- Help your body manage inflammation.
- Support your digestive system and help manage your metabolism.
- Support and strengthen your immune system, so that it better fights off infections.
Understand that to experience these benefits, you need to think about your diet from a holistic level. Adding a superfood or two won't cancel the effects of a primarily high-fat, high-sugar and high-carbohydrate diet. In the opposite direction, focusing on a couple of superfoods can restrict your diet and may contribute to a nutritional deficiency.
Poor or insufficient nutrition often translates to a sluggish, unfocused and fatigued feeling, perhaps accompanied by poor digestion. Superfoods help you hit all your vitamins and minerals, in addition to fiber and antioxidants, which, in turn, makes you feel more alert, energetic, present and willing to exercise.
Managing Chronic Inflammation
The body of knowledge around the effects of inflammation continues to grow - from how it impedes wound healing to fueling the development of chronic health conditions. Getting more nutrients via superfoods can decrease your risks for chronic inflammation, which can then:
- Allow tissues to repair themselves and injuries to heal sooner.
- Help balance your gut's microbiome.
- Help lower your risks for conditions influenced by inflammation, including autoimmune, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Reducing the Effects of Free Radicals
Superfoods like tea and leafy greens supply the body with high levels of antioxidants, which help fight the effects of free radicals both created by your body and from outside sources. This effect can help reduce cellular damage and fight the effects of aging.
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