Food & Drink

Superfoods have super benefits

Blueberries are considered a “superfood,” loaded with antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium and vitamin C.
Blueberries are considered a “superfood,” loaded with antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium and vitamin C. Centre Daily Times, file

Every day our bodies need food as fuel in order for them to perform tasks optimally. There are many options and varieties to choose from for our fuel sources — carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Some choices are healthier than others, but they still give your body fuel.

Whether it’s through liquids or solids, most individuals fuel their body at least three times per day through their meals and might have a snack or two. However, have you ever really sat down and thought about the best foods for your body or what these foods can provide for you? Superfoods are some of those foods you should be thinking about using to fuel your body.

Superfoods are foods that researchers have classified as just that — super foods. They have been found to help decrease symptoms or risks for certain diseases and health issues. Superfoods have also been found to make your body feel better and place you in a better mood. Superfoods have no added chemicals or additional ingredients. These foods are found in their natural growing form within nature.

Superfoods have been said to help you maintain your weight and fight disease. They’ve even been found to promote a longer life. These foods can help decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Some superfoods include: blueberries, salmon, spinach, tea (green or black), walnuts and yogurt. Each of these foods has a variety of vitamins and minerals that can help promote a healthy body.

For example, blueberries contain high amounts of antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium and vitamin C. Antioxidants help counteract damaging effects of oxidation in our body’s tissues and increase our body’s immune system. Vitamin C is considered an antioxidant, but it also helps our body make collagen, which is a protein that helps develop things like skin, blood vessels and cartilage. Because of these properties, blueberries have been found to lower your body’s risk for heart disease and cancer. Blueberries are also found to be anti-inflammatory. Ann Kulze, author of “Dr. Ann’s 10 Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong Vitality,” recommends that people have a serving, which is about  1/2 cup, of blueberries every day to help decrease inflammation.

Kulze says frozen blueberries are just as beneficial as fresh ones. When it comes to blueberries, the darker the fruit, the more antioxidants.

The other superfoods listed above have beneficial properties like omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, probiotics and many other vitamins and minerals. Each helps improve your overall body health. Superfoods should be included in a well-balanced diet. This will help ensure that your body is getting all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed in order to function properly. A well-balanced diet can also make sure your body’s gut is performing like it should and improve you immune system. Foods like kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, nuts and citrus fruits, and spices like capsaicin, turmeric and curcumin contain superfood properties to help improve your body’s immune system.

The next time you make a trip to the grocery store, try to pick up some of these superfoods to help improve your overall health and well-being. Your body and mind will thank you. Add in the benefits of eating a healthy diet and decreasing your risk for diseases, why not take advantage of superfoods?

Kaitlin Kulp is a senior majoring in nutritional sciences-dietetics options at Penn State. She is the public relations/social chairwoman for the Student Nutrition Association.