What makes a food a superfood?

Thursday, December 13, 2012 by: Heidi Fagley
Tags: food, superfood, nutritional density

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(NaturalNews) It's hard to avoid the advertising campaigns swarming daily news programs, magazine headlines and various super market labels with titles like "Number One Superfood Everyone Should Eat" or "Eat This to Destroy Disease." Interestingly, there are foods that are powerful enough to help lower the risk of numerous health challenges if consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet.

Many of us know that eating fruits and vegetables are good for us but have gotten confused when it comes to adding the word "super" to our foods. It doesn't help that there is no legal definition in the food world, and most recently, it seems the word is getting used so much that it's losing some of its true meaning.

The fact is what you eat greatly affects your body now and in the future. In the world we live in, with environmental toxins bombarding us and pesticides threatening our food and water, it's crucial to include foods with the highest nutrient density available to ensure staying healthy in a toxic world.

It can be overwhelming having to sort through the headlines to figure out what you should include as your best line of defense against health challenges. When there's always another fruit, vegetable, or spice that has been found to be the number one key to better health and longer life, how do we know what to believe and where to begin?

What is a superfood?

Superfoods are vibrant, nutritionally dense foods that offer tremendous dietary and healing potential. They are powerful sources of clean protein, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, good fats, essential fatty and amino acids, and other nutrients that offer deep levels of nutrition.

Superfoods are foods that go above and beyond. They pack in the good stuff that we all want rallying for our health on a daily basis. Although there are long lists of foods that contain nutrients that support health, superfoods turbo charge the system - especially when eaten on a regular basis.

What to look for

Nutrient density - The measurement of how much of any particular nutrient the food contains in regards to how much is in one serving.

Nutrient diversity -
The measurement of how many different nutrients are available in this one food.

Phytonutrient content -
The amount of healthy chemical compounds, known and unknown, that exist in plants. There are potentially thousands of phytonutrients in plants and any superfood should be a known source.

Toxin absence - The goal of consuming superfoods is to load the body with as many nutrients as possible. Superfoods should represent clean, hormone-free, chemical and pesticide-free sources of nutrition.

Although there is no one food that provides everything the body needs, including a wide variety of superfoods can play a crucial role in stimulating health on a cellular level to benefit the body in countless ways. Superfoods allow us to get more nutrition with less eating.

Superfoods are here to stay. Yet, as the popularity increases, many manufacturers are introducing a wide variety of supplemental products trying to mimic the effects of these foods. Bodies recognize and assimilate nutrients best when they come from real food so opt for the real deal. Make sure to purchase from reputable suppliers that are providing actual superfoods rather than super-substitutes that promise super results.


Wolfe,D. (2009). Superfoods: The food and medicine of the future. California: North Atlantic Books.
Rubin, J. (2012). What does superfood actually mean. ExtraordinaryHealth, Volume15, 26-27.
Perricone,N. (2010). Forever young: The science of nutrigenomics for glowing, wrinkle-free skin and radiant health at every age. New York: Atria Books.

About the author:
Heidi Fagley is a Holistic Nutritionist and has two culinary arts degrees - one in Raw, Living Foods and another in Natural Foods.

Heidi embraces the belief that wellness is a state of balance on multiple levels and enjoying what you eat and how you spend your time is a huge part of that journey. Connect with her on social media for recipes, tidbits and product review updates on healthy living:

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