What Makes a Food a Superfood?

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If you have ever walked down the aisles of your grocery store wondering what exactly a superfood is, you are not alone.

It seems like every variety of food these days is being touted as a superfood, making it hard to understand the real nutritional characteristics of this food category. Although there are foods out there that definitely live up to their “super” name, the term is not regulated and has been exploited by some companies for marketing purposes.

If you want to wade through the confusion of this new diet craze, it is best to get down to basics. We explore some of the things that make superfoods so exceptional and why you should incorporate them into your diet.


Basic Definition

We know it seems like some foods are called super with little or no qualifications, but understanding the characteristics of this powerful food group will help you determine which claims are legitimate and which claims are false. Superfoods are generally defined as foods that are especially dense in nutrients.

For example, some small foods are packed with so many vitamins or antioxidants that they are as rich in nutrients as a whole plate of others. Hence the name; superfoods deliver on key nutrients in a way that puts them far ahead of other, less nutrient-rich foods.



Although there is no general rule about how a superfood looks, specialists often point to color as a key indicator when looking at fruits and vegetables. Those with dark colors, or those that are especially bright or intense are often labeled as superfoods. This is not a random choice.

Plants with more vivid or dark colors often contain a higher number of phytochemicals, which are powerful sources of vitamins, antioxidants, and even healing properties. Some medicines are derived from phytochemicals because of their potency. So, look for sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, or beets to create a rainbow on your plate. This will help ensure that you consume a variety of nutrients from plant sources.


Why Eat Superfoods?

There are many claims about the properties of superfoods that have yet to be proven scientifically.

While there seems to be positive evidence of the power of these foods to ward off cancer and other diseases, there are many concrete reasons that you should be filling your plate with superfoods.

Many of the foods in this group help promote health in your body’s organs, from the brain to the liver, heart, and kidneys. And if you are dieting, there are a number of reasons that superfoods belong in your daily routine.

Because of their nutrient density, many superfoods are far more filling than processed snack foods or junk food. A baked sweet potato, homemade kale chips, bowl of oatmeal, or avocado sandwich will likely keep you full for a longer stretch of time than sweetened granola bars, snack crackers, or sugary cereals do.

If you incorporate these foods into your 17 day diet meal plan, you will likely soon find that you are eating less and actually feeling more satisfied. You will also reap the many other benefits associated with this category.

High-fiber superfoods, like spinach and whole grains, will aid your digestion, while foods rich in monounsaturated fats, like avocados, will help keep you energetic.

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    Greener Ideal strives to help you live your life in more sustainable ways with green living tips, healthy recipes and commentary on the latest environment news. The views expressed by guest authors are their own and may not reflect those of Greener Ideal.