What Are Superfoods?

The first to talk about superfoods were raw foodists and vegans – apparently, people concerned about their health, who had rejected almost the entire list of WHO recommendations, began to look for a “magic pill” that would replace animal products.

It was then that David Wolfe, a master of nutrition and an ardent advocate of the raw food movement, discovered such products as cocoa beans, spirulina algae, goji berries, and acai berries.

Superfoods are foods in which the concentration of nutrients exceeds all previously known values. They are a cross between food and medicine, by description and definition more similar to biological supplements, but still included in a separate category.

Superfoods are roots, seeds, leaves, algae, berries, and other parts of plants consumed both in their natural state and in the form of powders, juices, and extracts. As a rule, they grow in hard-to-reach places on the planet like the Amazon and Tibet, but you don’t have to go that far to get them: the most common products in this category can be easily ordered online or bought in health food stores. In terms of their chemical composition, superfoods are not similar to conventional foods: the off-the-charts concentration of protein, vitamins, minerals, essential acids, antioxidants, and other nutrients with a minimum of calories is simply amazing.

There is a downside that should not be forgotten when it comes to superfoods. All tests related to the positive effects of their use are conducted on mice, and it is not yet known whether they are as useful for humans as the results of these studies convince us. The second point is that those people from whom the Western world has picked up the habit of eating superfoods are genetically predisposed to absorbing nutrients from them, as they have been eating them for a long time. So there is no guarantee that the body of a Westerner will absorb these exotic roots and berries with the same success. And the result of consuming superfoods may not be noticeable immediately or not at all, which will not please those who, for a decent amount of money (and superfoods are not cheap, by the way), dreamed of getting a solution to their health problems here and now. In addition, the body can react to the use of these products in different ways: some people develop allergies, nausea, or digestive problems, which can put them off experimenting with superfoods forever.

Such products are just an additive to food but by no means a substitute for it or a quick way to get rid of extra pounds. You will definitely not notice any effect from their use if you continue to eat fast food and soda while sitting on your favorite couch. So, scientists and doctors, speaking of superfoods, try not to single them out in a special category and recommend eating a balanced diet and leading a healthy lifestyle in general.

Goji berries

Bright red berries, similar to hard raisins, are primarily known for their rejuvenating and toning properties. A tablespoon of these berries contains one gram of protein, 36% of the daily value of vitamin A, and only 18 calories. Goji contains a record amount of vitamin C (hundreds of times more than citrus fruits), as well as essential polysaccharides and amino acids. They grow mainly in Asia, Mongolia, and Central America.

Chia seeds

The essential fatty acids contained in chia are no longer found in such concentrations anywhere else in nature, and the amount of antioxidants is much higher than in blueberries and other well-known berries. In addition, chia is rich in iron, vitamins, minerals, zinc, and potassium. Due to the fact that these seeds are able to swell and increase in volume when in contact with liquid (they absorb 10 times more water than their own weight), they are often used in puddings and as a substitute for eggs in vegan desserts.


The blue-green microalgae spirulina gained worldwide popularity in the late 90s when many people began to switch to a plant-based diet and the question arose of a reliable source of complete protein. At that time, studies that found vitamin B12 (which is widely believed to be deficient in all vegans) and a high protein content in spirulina were very relevant. Nowadays, spirulina is a well-selling superfood, and special farms are even being set up to breed it.

Cocoa beans

Cocoa beans are the primary raw material from which all the chocolate products we know are made. But unlike their industrial counterparts, which contain fat, milk, and sugar, raw cocoa beans will cheer you up without unpleasant consequences. In addition, they contain iron and magnesium, and 20 times more antioxidants than green tea. When raw, cocoa beans are slightly bitter and taste like coffee beans, so they are most often added to energy bars and smoothies.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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