Superfoods – What makes them “Super”?

The word “Superfood” has now turned into a Buzzword. It now seems that every week, we are introduced to a new superfood. But how can we differentiate a food being falsely and deceptively marketed as a “Superfood” from the one which actually is a nutrition superhouse?

Well, for starters, a Superfood is defined as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially valuable for health and well-being.” These Superfoods are not only high in micronutrients, but are also powerhouses of essential antioxidants, minerals and healthy fats which are all-important for your body in order to thrive.

Superfoods are often marketed as elusive and exotic foods. However, unlike  “Superman” who was born on the planet Krypton, “Superfoods” are Earth grown, on our very own planet and some are even locally and easily available. You just have to look around! These local superfoods in the yester years were celebrated for their therapeutic, weight loss and wellbeing properties, but are now just undervalued, under promoted and simply lost.

Lets have a look at some of the available Superfoods which provide an amalgamation of different health benefits and rightly have earned themselves the title of “Superfoods”!

Note – These Superfoods need to be incorporated into a well balanced healthy diet in combination with lifestyle changes for them to work optimally. 

Superfood Spices

Turmeric

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Ever regretted saying no to “Haldi wala doodh” or simply put, Turmeric milk, all so lovingly prepared by your grandmother? Well, you should. Turmeric, which is an everyday spice used in various parts of India is not only an  excellent source of Vitamin C, Magnesium, Potassium, and Vitamin B6, but, its two key components , the Circumin and Turmerone also contribute towards its therapeutic properties such as boosting immunity, improving digestion, and have anti inflammatory properties amongst many others. 

Ginger

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Ginger, one of the healthiest spices is commonly used as a home remedy ingredient for treating nausea, indigestion and relieving menstrual cramps because of its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Several other additional benefits of ginger which will convince you to add Ginger in your everyday cooking are:

  1. Ginger can lower blood sugar levels and improve heart risk factors

  2. Gingerol a substance present in Ginger may prevent cancer

  3. It can help reduce muscle pain and soreness

Garlic

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Garlic which is known as a universal aphrodisiac is rich in Vitamin C, B6, Selenium, Magnesium and Allicin (antioxidant) which renders it effective against high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, elevated cholesterol levels and also against ailments like flu and the common cold.

Superfood Fruits

Jackfruit

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The jack of all fruits, the “Jackfruit” which is officially India’s largest fruit is rich in fibre, phenolic compounds, antioxidants and several other nutrients providing numerous health benefits. The interest in Jackfruit internationally has grown multifold because it is considered as a vegan, gluten free and protein rich alternative to meat.

The Jackfruits seeds are rich in protein and aid in healthy blood circulation which is necessary for muscle oxygenation and promoting hair growth.

The phytonutrients present in leaves help boost your immune system. The raw Jackfruit bulbs help in restoring hormonal balance whereas the ripe Jackfruit bulbs are a storehouse of antioxidants and are adequately rich in fiber which helps promote healthy gut motility.

Pineapple

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This tropical potent fruit is rich in powerful phenols and enzymes which reduce inflammation, improve immunity and even address gut issues. The Bromelain present in Pineapples helps promote healing of injuries, slows down blood clotting and helps break protein molecules in the body which helps in gaining lean body mass and thereby in mobilising belly fat. It also helps in curbing appetite and prevents you from bingeing!

Banana

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If you need a quick recharge, then a Banana is all you need as it is packed with nutrients like Potassium, Vitamin B6, fibre, and its low to medium glycemic index which makes it the ultimate snack to have. Bananas are purportedly termed as the “Original” Superfoods since the nutrients present in them help soothe the stomach, strengthen the bones and also help promote relaxation and better mood.

Indian Gooseberry (Amla)

Photo credit : Arjun Kartha 

This popular fruit which is rich in Vitamin C, Iron and Calcium is a Superfood which is not only inexpensive but it also comes with a legion of its own health benefits such as boosting immunity, promoting healthy skin, hair and digestive system as it is also rich in fiber,  great for heart health, reducing inflammation, improving insulin sensitivity of the cells and thereby proving to be beneficial for people with Type II Diabetes.  Amla can be creatively used in the powdered form, as chutneys, pickles or even juices.

Superfood Grains

Millets

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Millets have been recently rejuvenated and are currently in line as the “Go-to” healthy gluten free grains to consume and rightfully so. They are packed with Fiber, essential vitamins  and minerals. There are nine commonly known and grown millet varieties namely Foxtail millet, Little millet, Pearl Millet, Sorghum, Kodo millet, Barnyard millet, Finger millet and Proso millet. Each of these millets have a lower glycemic index than most modern grains and also have their own unique nutrition profile owing to health benefits such as reducing blood sugar levels, satiating hunger, improving immunity and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Quinoa

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This gluten free pseudo grain is not only a high fiber grain but it is also rich in  high quality protein. In fact it contains more protein than other grains and also has a high profile of Lysine, an amino acid which is responsible for healing sore muscles after an intense workout!

Since Quinoa is also rich in Iron, Manganese, Magnesium and Riboflavin, it provides health benefits such as alleviating migraines, promoting blood sugar control and aiding in tissue growth and repair!

Amaranth

Photo credit : Petra Göschel from Pixabay

This forgotten gluten free supergrain is highly nutritious as it contains good amount of proteins, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which provide diverse health benefits such as promoting a healthy gut, preventing premature graying of hair, anti-inflammatory properties and regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

Although this pseudo grain generally makes an appearance in the households of those who traditionally fast, its nutrition profile and health benefits should render Amaranth as an often consumed grain!

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