It turns out that there is no official/legal designation for what makes a superfood, but the general consensus is that superfoods are foods that contain a lot of beneficial nutrients — they are powerhouses known to help people get healthier and perform better. And in addition to a balanced diet, you can optimize your nutrition by eating more superfoods on a daily basis.
There are two kinds of superfoods: (1) traditional superfoods, which most people can readily recognize and hopefully are already eating (like broccoli, nuts, sweet potatoes, etc.) and (2) specialized superfoods, which are the more obscure foods and sometimes have the lesser-identifiable names, like Chia, Maca, Cacao, etc.
There are easy ways to incorporate these specialized superfoods into your life for a host of benefits, including and not limited to, improved immune function, bowel regularity (a SUPER important part of wellness and one we shouldn’t be too shy to discuss, by the way), reduced inflammation (another big marker of health) and overall optimal health.
Yet, perhaps the most important thing to note is that these specialized superfoods are not just for the wellness-obsessed health nut — in fact, everybody can benefit from superfoods, and the barrier to entry is low, low, low. Don’t be scared of these foods, just because you may not be familiar with them and aren’t used to seeing them on your pantry shelf. They are quite easy to start eating.
Now, to dig a little bit deeper with information straight from a reputable source, next up, you’ll find an interview with the new Navitas Organics in-house registered dietitian, Miranda Hammer. Miranda is answering all of our burning questions right here!
ALL OF OUR SUPERFOOD QUESTIONS ANSWERED
But first, a little bit about Miranda: Miranda Hammer, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian, natural foods chef and the founder of the website crunchyradish.com. She focuses mostly on plant-based foods, and in her role with Navitas Organics, Miranda creates benefit-oriented superfood recipes, answers fan questions and represents Navitas Organics at health and wellness events and more. Good stuff. Miranda has a Master’s Degree from the Clinical Nutrition Program at New York University, and she’s been featured in Vogue, on mindbodygreen, on Well + Good, on food52 and of course, now on A Lady Goes West.
Here are her answers…(and you can see MY comments in parentheses).
DOES THE EVERYDAY PERSON NEED TO EAT SUPERFOODS?
The everyday person should integrate traditional superfoods into their diet, such as dark leafy greens, berries, nuts, seeds and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts to name a few — for optimal health. For added nutritive benefits and functioning, integrating more specialized superfoods, such as Chia Seeds, Maca, Cacao and Goji Berries, adds additional benefits for bowel regularity, immune function, reduced inflammation and optimal wellness.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR SUPERFOODS?
Cacao, Goji Berries, Chia Seeds and Matcha. (I remember when it was hard to find Chia Seeds in the stores, now they are everywhere. But you want to choose the highest-quality ones, of course, and a little goes a long way.)
HOW ARE SUPERFOOD BERRIES DIFFERENT FROM REGULAR BERRIES?
All berries are considered superfoods in my book, due to their antioxidant power and vitamin and mineral makeup. Specialized superfoods such as Goji, Mulberries and Goldenberries do contain higher amounts of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which help with immune function, boost collagen production and protect against premature aging. (Based on my research, Goldenberries and Goji Berries have more protein than your average berry and have an amazing amount of antioxidants, which protect the body from damage.)
WHAT ARE SOME EASY WAYS TO START INCORPORATING SUPERFOODS INTO YOUR DIET?
To start adding specialized superfoods into your diet, try adding a teaspoon of Cacao, Maca, Maqui or Acai Powder into your smoothie for a seamless way to start integrating them into your routine. Additionally, adding some Hemp Seeds or Chia Seeds to your morning oats, a soup, stew or a salad is another simple way to boost your meal without too many new tastes or textures taking over a dish. (If you’re a toast, pancake or granola person in the morning, you can add a handful of Goldenberries or Goji Berries to the top of your spread for a simple addition. I do it almost every day, and these babies are delicious.)
WHAT SHOULD WE LOOK FOR WHEN DECIDING WHAT KIND OF SUPERFOODS TO BUY?
Ideally, you want to look for products that are organic, and because most of the specialized superfoods come from various countries around the world, finding products that are fair trade and sustainable is also key.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO CONSUME TOO MANY SUPERFOODS ON A DAILY BASIS?
When adding any new food into your diet, it is important to start slow — about a half teaspoon at a time to see how your body responds, especially because some of the products, like Chia Seeds, are very high in fiber. You also want to make sure you are consuming water throughout the day to balance out the increase in fiber intake. Additionally, anything in excess is never a good idea. Some superfoods are calorie dense and have high amounts of vitamins and minerals, so it’s best to stick to two to three a day and to watch your servings.
HOW IS CACAO DIFFERENT FROM CHOCOLATE?
Cacao is the purest form of chocolate and is usually found raw. When Cacao is heated and processed, it turns into cocoa and is usually infused with other ingredients such as preservatives, sugar, milk and food coloring. Chocolate is the combination of Cacao or cocoa with sweeteners, milk, and possibly oil, nuts, dried fruit and seeds. (Based on my research, Cacao has a ton of antioxidants and helps with your cardiovascular health, and it tastes good, too.)
WHAT WILL EATING SUPERFOODS DO FOR SOMEONE’S OVERALL HEALTH, NUTRITION OR FITNESS?
Adding superfoods into your diet has a multitude of benefits, ranging from improved immune function, bowel regularity, skin clarity, reduction of inflammation and improved energy. (And quite honestly, you feel so good knowing that you’re fueling your body up with something a little extra. Or at least I always do.)
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SUPERFOODS RECIPE, WHICH CAN BE A SIDE DISH FOR THANKSGIVING?
I love a big hearty salad loaded with roasted delicata squash. Topping the salad with spicy sunflower seeds or Cashews and a sprinkling of Hemp Seeds is an easy way to incorporate superfoods into a large dish and still have it be a crowd pleaser for all types of palates.
And there you have it! Superfoods are beneficial and easy to add into your diet. You heard it here, straight from a registered dietitian.