First, let us clear up some confusion.
Scientists do not use the term super foods. It is a popular phrase, which is widely accepted as meaning any foods which provide numerous health benefits.
According to the American Heart Association, super foods are very simply foods which have benefits to our health, such as providing extra-large doses of vitamins and minerals that can help us ward off diseases and live a longer, healthier life.
The key components of any superfood are:
- antioxidants, which are thought to prevent cancer and help reduce the effects of aging
- healthy fats, which can prevent heart disease
- fiber, which can prevent diabetes and improve digestion
- phytochemicals, which are thought to provide protection from many diseases.
These are some of the superfoods which have been proven to provide health benefits.
A study published in 2013 in the journal Circulation found that a high intake of phytochemicals known as flavonoids — which are found in blueberries, as well as other kinds of berries — may reduce the risk of heart conditions.
This is a type of algae, which is rich in vitamins and minerals.
Research is ongoing into its effectiveness but primary studies showed it can boost immunity by increasing the production of infection-fighting cells.
Alfalfa is a herb, which is used for a variety of conditions including asthma, arthritis and diabetes. Scientific research has shown it to be particularly effective for people suffering from high cholesterol.
This is the outer layer of the rice grain. It is used to treat a multitude of disorders, including, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, AIDS and for preventing stomach and colon cancer.
A study published in 2011 in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating kiwifruit, which contain serotonin, a hormone that helps induce and maintain sleep, can help people with sleep disorders.
Pomegranate and raspberries
These both contain ellagic acid, which is believed to prevent cancer.
Garlic has been used medicinally for thousands of years. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health, garlic helps to reduce blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension. It also contains antioxidants, organosulfurs and allicin.
Grapes have been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments from sore throats to constipation.
In more recent times, scientists have discovered that our ancestors may actually have been right about their potential healing powers. Research has found grape seed extract increases antioxidant levels in our blood, which are thought to reduce the effects of aging as well as help prevent heart disease and cancer.
Studies have found that green tea can reduce inflammation and also helps support good heart health.