There is no strict classification for the term “superfood”, but if we use this term in its loosest sense, it typically describes a food that has an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, a food that provides a plethora of benefits in its whole, natural form.
It’s a category that has been used to describe everything from common vegetables to herbs and tea, but if we stick to the aforementioned description, it’s a term that best describes a small number of incredibly potent foods that everyone should look to include in their diet.
In this guide, we’ll look at the best of them, focusing on 7 of the healthiest superfoods in the world.
Your parents were right—you really should have eaten your broccoli. This is one of the healthiest superfoods in the world. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber and it can also help in the fight against cancer, greatly reducing a person’s risk of getting this chronic disease following regular consumption.
Of course, many people find broccoli to be bitter and unpleasant and this is no coincidence. The chemical responsible for this bitter taste, sulforaphane, is the same chemical responsible for its unique cancer-fighting properties.(1)
So, the next time you turn your nose up at a floret of broccoli, remember that those bitter compounds could end up saving your life!
Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants. They include compounds called carotenoids, which are known to reduce the risk of cancer and inflammation.(2) They are also rich in magnesium, iron, and calcium and are a great source of vitamin C.
Kale is hugely popular, and rightly so. Some varieties of this miraculous food, most specifically Cavolo Nero (also known as Italian Kale) provide you with your entire RDA of vitamin K and half your RDA of vitamin C in a 15-calorie serving. But you will find many of the same health-boosting benefits in other dark leafy greens, including spinach, swiss chard, and collard greens.
Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable, which puts it in the same category as broccoli and provides many of the same benefits as well. It can help to fight cancer and other chronic diseases, and it also contains a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
However, the main reason Arugula is on this list is its nitrate content. It has one of the highest concentrations of naturally occurring nitrates, consumption of which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, as well as improved performance.(3)(4).
These potent compounds are what gives beetroot juice its edge and they are the reason that sweet, earthy juice has become so popular with health food fanatics and athletes. But on a gram for gram basis, Arugula is a better source of nitrates and also provides many additional benefits.
Most berries can be (and often are) classed as superfoods, but blueberries are backed by much more promising research and hold some of the most potential when it comes to exciting health benefits.
They have a high antioxidant concentration and research has shown that a diet rich in blueberries can help to reduce inflammation and inflammatory disorders such as cancer and heart disease.(5)
That’s not all, as blueberries have also been connected with an increase in cognitive function. One study gave students a serving of blueberries every day and noted a 10% improvement in focus and concentration, suggesting they could improve learning and cognition.
Tea is one of the healthiest substances in the world, one that has been studied for centuries and consumed for thousands of years. These benefits apply to all teas, including black, but green tea is often the one in the spotlight when it comes to health benefits.
A lot of this is down to its antioxidant content. It contains a plethora of polyphenolic compounds that can improve overall health and wellbeing and potentially reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
One of the most unique compounds found within green tea is a catechin known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Research conducted on this substance suggests it can reduce the risk of mortality by as much as 10%, while other studies have noted that life-time green tea drinkers tend to live a lot longer than non-tea drinkers.(6) (7)
You may be surprised to find chia seeds on this list as they don’t conform to the same vitamin-rich profile of many other superfoods. However, these little seeds pack one hell of a punch and come loaded with a host of amazing benefits.
A single serving of chia seeds contains over 10 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and essential non-animal sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain around a third of your recommend daily intake of minerals like magnesium.
But there’s more to these seeds than that. They are also rich in phenolic compounds, which have an antioxidant effect on the body, reducing the risk of chronic disease and promoting cell health.(8) They can also fill you up, potentially helping with weight loss and satiation, and are a fantastic source of fiber.
As impressive as some of the aforementioned foods are, there is no food on earth that can provide you with a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Some of them provide a balance of macronutrients, amino acids, and antioxidants, but nothing can give you a complete profile of vitamins and minerals.
However, spirulina gets pretty close to doing so. If there was ever a “complete” superfood, this is it. Spirulina has been called one of the healthiest and most complete foods on the planet, and not without reason.
A 100-gram serving of spirulina provides over 55 grams of protein, 150% of your RDA of Iron, and a plethora of B vitamins, vitamin A, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, and more. It may also help to balance blood sugar, improve heart health, and ease digestive distress.
Of course, it’s far from perfect. There are some concerns regarding cyanotoxins, which have been known to contaminate batches of spirulina. However, this is rare and it shouldn’t be an issue if you buy your supplements from reputable suppliers, as is the case with the spirulina we use in our Daily Greens, a combination of superfoods from sources certified as organic.
Although spirulina comes close to being a complete food, it’s still not quite there, and if you subsist entirely on this blue-green algae you’ll end up overdosing on protein and missing out on essential carbs and fats.
A balanced diet is one that is rich in whole foods and one that combines many different foods (super and otherwise). In many ways, variety is the best superfood of all.
If you struggle to consume superfoods throughout the day and find that you’re constantly falling short of those RDAs, pick up a tub of our Daily Greens to ensure your needs are met.