Superfoods are natural foods that are rich in nutrients. These foods include berries, seeds, grains, algae, vegetables and fruits which can all have a positive effect on the body. Superfoods have a high quantity of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and antioxidants. Whereas most healthy foods have two to three nutritional properties, superfoods tend to have 12 or more.

There are four main groupings of superfoods. They are as follows:

  1. Fruits and nuts superfoods – lots of fruits and nuts have antibacterial properties. Examples include acai berries, blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, mulberries, pomegranate, maqui berry, maca, almonds, walnuts, raw cacao and coconut.
  2. Green superfoods – this grouping contains green vegetables which have high quantities of vitamins, proteins, minerals and fiber that promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Examples of green superfoods include wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina, chlorella, and green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale, leeks, broccoli.
  3. Herb superfoods – healthy herbs are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. They also have lots of medicinal properties. Examples include nettle, aloe vera, echinacea, ginseng, devil’s claw, ginger, ginkgo biloba, marigold, turmeric, anise and basil.
  4. Other superfoods – examples include bee pollen, honey, royal jelly and a wide range of seaweeds.

These groups will be reviewed in the following blog posts. It is during the cold winter months that our bodies need the first group the most, so in my February blog post I will write about the fruit and nut and bee superfoods. Spring fatigue can set in during the spring months, and that’s when we need to reach for green superfoods. So, in March, we will cover the second and third groups.

The Benefits of Superfoods

Each superfood has its own unique characteristics and health benefits. Nonetheless, some of the more basic benefits that superfoods can provide include improving physical and mental health, strengthening the immune system, increasing resistance to disease, rejuvenating the skin, reducing the risk of cancer, protecting your heart and improving the metabolism. 

How to Eat Superfoods

Superfoods are best consumed in their raw and original state. This is because many of the nutrients in the superfoods can be lost through modern processing. This can also limit or lose the many nutritional and healing qualities of the superfoods. If cooking is necessary, overcooking should be avoided. Heat tends to damage water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and destroy antioxidants that are found in the pigments of plant-based foods.

Fruits and Nuts Superfoods

Fruits and nuts provide the body with lots of antioxidants. They also help the body to get rid of foreign invaders. Depending on a person’s diet and lifestyle, free radicals and foreign invaders can strengthen in the body and weaken the immune system. The antioxidants in fruits and nuts strengthen the immune system and work against free radicals in the body.

The live enzymes in fruits also help to prevent heart attacks colon cancer, inflammatory problems and allergies. The proteins and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids in nuts help to reduce cholesterol levels.

We will now look at some superfood fruits and nuts.

Fruit Superfoods

Pineapples – pineapples are filled with fiber, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C and E, protein, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, sulphur, potassium, iron, and digestive enzymes. Pineapples are useful for the following:

  • Reducing swelling associated with allergies, arthritis, sore throat and sinus
  • Reducing the recovery time from surgeries and injuries
  • Treating arteriosclerosis and anemia
  • Reducing the chances of blood clotting
  • Building up healthy bones and immune system
  • Reducing colds and periodontal diseases
  • Digesting food (it contains a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain)

Mangoes – mangoes are filled with fiber, vitamins A, B6, C and E, zinc, manganese, potassium, polyphenols, live enzymes, carotenoids, pectin and copper. Mangoes are useful for the following:

  • Improving healthy skin, mucous membrane, eyesight, dryness of the eyes, itching or burning eyes
  • Boosting the body’s immune system against foreign invaders
  • Protecting the red blood cells
  • Controlling the heart rate
  • Help with iron absorption
  • Treating cancers such as breast, colon, prostate and leukemia
  • Help with high blood pressure
  • Preventing constipation, stomach inflammation, morning sickness and chronic dyspepsia
  • Normalizing the levels of insulin, blood sugar
  • Preventing heart strokes and heat exhaustion in summer
  • Helping with anemia, menopause and pregnant women

Berries – cranberries, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, salmon berries, blackberries, acai berries and goji berries all have many health benefits. Berries are rich in vitamins C, E and K, B vitamins, amino acids, manganese, selenium, iron, zinc and dietary fiber. They are great sources of antioxidants and help with the following among other benefits:

  • Treating infections and other diseases such as strokes and cancer
  • Lowering the cholesterol level
  • Reducing the chances of stomach cancer
  • Improving the memory loss against ageing process such as Alzheimer’s disease
  • Improving mental health as well as physical health.
  • Lowering the blood pressure
  • Fighting against free radicals in the body
  • improving the bone structure
  • Raising the concentration of oxygen and hemoglobin in the blood
  • Reducing the chances of heart disease

Papaya – papayas are filled with folic acid, fiber, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, fiber and vitamins A, B and C. Papayas are useful for the following:

  • Improving the body’s immune system
  • Protecting the body from colds, ear infections and flu
  • Protecting the body against colon cancer
  • Treating sports injuries, allergies and other causes of trauma
  • Preventing constipation
  • Treating upset stomach, nausea, and motion/morning sickness
  • Reducing the level of cholesterol
  • Treating rashes, stings, burns or cuts

Nuts Superfoods

Walnuts – Walnuts are filled with anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts are useful for the following:

  • Protecting you against heart problems
  • Fighting against cancer
  • Lowering the level of LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease

Almonds – almonds are filled with fiber, calcium, selenium, copper, potassium and vitamin E. Almonds are useful for the following:

  • Cleansing the colon and prevent colon cancer
  • Lowering the level of LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease

Cashew nuts – cashew nuts are filled with vitamins B6 and K, iron, biotin, copper, monounsaturated fatty acids and magnesium. Cashew nuts are useful for the following:

  • Helping with calcium absorption
  • Improving healthy bones
  • Lowering the risk of heart disease
  • Energizing the body
  • Fighting with free radicals

Pecans – pecans are filled with vitamins A and E, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc and manganese. Pecans are useful for the following:

  • Lowering the level of cholesterol
  • Preventing the blockage of arteries

Brazilian Nuts – Brazilian nuts are filled with protein, copper, magnesium, selenium, fiber, vitamin E and niacin. Brazilian nuts are useful for the following:

  • Fighting with free radicals
  • Preventing the risk of breast cancer

Pistachios – Pistachios are filled with oleic acid, vitamin E, protein, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc and copper. Pistachios are useful for the following:

  • Preventing the body against diseases, cancers and infections
  • Helping with skin health

Bee Superfood

Royal Jelly – Royal jelly is where the queen bee resides. It is filled with vitamins B5, A, C, D, E and K, minerals and 18 amino acids. It also provides nutrients to the healthy skin and hair and can be used to treat stress, fatigue and insomnia.

Bee pollen – Bee pollen has about 7 times more protein than meat and is considered to be a complete superfood. It is also an anti-allergic. Bee pollen is useful for the following:

  • Helping with weight loss
  • Regulating metabolism
  • Enhancing the body’s immune system
  • Helping persons recover from illnesses
  • Providing energy and nutrition to athletes
  • Preventing heart problems, cancer and strokes
  • Fighting against sinusitis and hay fever
  • Slowing down the ageing process
  • Improving both mental and physical wellbeing

Honey – Honey has antioxidant and anti-cancerous properties. It is also an antibacterial and energizer. Honey is useful for the following:

  • Cleansing the body
  • Healing diseases such as sore throats, colds and flues, insomnia, allergies
  • Improving cuts and burns
  • Boosting the body’s immune system

Dr. Suzanna Braeger

Holistic Health Coach and Nutritionist, Yoga Teacher

Lecturer (B’n’S Holistic Health Coach, Nutritionist and Wellness Consultant, Yoga Teacher Course)