We all know that food is necessary for life and essential for any workout journey. Foods provide the nutrients needed for various body functions; however, all foods are not the same. Different foods contain and provide certain nutrients more than others. For example, eggs contain more protein while rice contains more carbohydrates. Besides, most food does not contain up to half of all the vitamins and minerals necessary.
However, there are foods known as superfoods that go beyond the realm of regular foods. Some of these you know and may have even eaten in the past. But there are some that you very likely haven’t heard about. We will be exploring those uncommon superfoods here today.
Although foods are beneficial, there are two things you must know about them.
- No food provides all the nutrients you need
- Some foods contain chemicals that cause inflammations or trigger certain diseases.
Superfoods are a new rave today. This term describes foods, primarily plant-based foods, that are nutritiously dense. These foods are packed with many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In addition, they contain fewer calories and inflammatory substances that result in diseases like arthritis, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular problems.
Superfoods are healthy foods. Although mostly plant-based, some seafood and dairy are also regarded as superfoods. These foods contain adequate amounts of healthy fats, fibers, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. They are the complete health food, aiding digestion, preventing cancer and heart diseases, providing strength, etc. Thus, if you’re looking to stay healthy, eating chunks of these foods is excellent.
You’d get ten different answers if you asked ten dieticians to list out their favorite superfoods. This is because there are no definitive criteria for defining superfoods. As such, the definition of superfoods is left open to individual interpretation.
Moreover, for some dieticians, superfoods are merely a marketing term for foods that have health benefits. Conversely, the term has come under criticism as some consider it misleading. However, there are certain foods that are likely to make it to every dietician’s list of superfoods. These particular foods have a very high nutritional density, implying that they offer maximum nutritional benefits for minimal calories.
Superfoods are highly medicinal. What makes them super is the immense health benefits they offer. Besides that, these foods lack sugars, non-trans fats, and other chemicals that may cause inflammation internally.
Superfoods are rich in antioxidants that scavenge free radicals in the body, thus, neutralizing their dangerous effects. Through their antioxidant properties, superfoods are vital in preventing many chronic metabolic and inflammatory diseases, including;
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Immunosuppression etc
In addition, they contain rich amounts of dietary fibers that aid digestion and healthy fats that lower the amount of bad cholesterol and prevent heart diseases. These foods also improve skin, hair, and nail health, making you look healthier. They also increase energy levels significantly and help maintain a healthy weight.
One crucial point is that superfoods are not a cure for all ailments and should not replace regular meals. These foods are highly nutritious, but their benefits are more pronounced when combined with a balanced diet overall. Therefore, you should incorporate your superfoods into a “superdiet.”
Certain superfoods are very common. You see or hear about them every day and have probably eaten them. Some of these common superfoods include;
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
Conversely, some superfoods are pretty uncommon. You probably haven’t heard of them, and the chances of you having eaten them are even slimmer. Let’s dive into eight of these powerful uncommon superfoods.
Natto is a traditional Japanese diet made from fermented soybean. This uncommon superfood has rich amounts of pyrazine and nattokinase. Nattokinase is an enzyme that dissolves blood clots and improves circulation. Through its anti-thrombolitic action, natto significantly reduces the risk of pulmonary embolisms that result in stroke or cardiac arrests.
Natto is also rich in vitamin K, which helps reduce blood pressure and improves bone density. Natto is an excellent superfood with low calories and immense health benefits. On the downside, it has an unagreeable taste. You may take it whole or in its capsule form.
Cordyceps is s a fungus that grows in high-altitude regions of China, Nepal, and Tibet and is a common component in traditional Chinese medicine. Cordyceps is an adaptogen, a group of herbs that regulate the body’s stress response. In addition, cordyceps possess anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and lipid-lowering properties. Cordyceps improve immunity, enhance physical stamina and enhance sexual drive and functionality.
Yes. This incredible superfood is derived from the antler of elks or deers. During the early (velvet) stage of antler growth, the antler is humanely removed, dried, and then grounded. This food is rich in insulin-like growth factors (IGF-1 and IGF-2) that boost testosterone production. Thus, consuming elk antler velvet increases the body’s tissue and bone regeneration ability.
Elk antler velvet is traditionally used as a sex tonic in Chinese medicine. In addition, it has adaptogenic and anti-inflammatory properties and is used in treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Antler velvet is rich in pilose, chondroitin sulfate, collagen, and glucosamine sulfate, responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Moringa oleifera is often regarded as the world’s most nutritious plant. This superfood has a rich store of antioxidants and phytochemicals with numerous health benefits.
Moringa is native to the Indian subcontinent but is commonly grown in parts of Africa. Every part of this miracle tree is highly medicinal – the leaves are rich in proteins, vitamins B6, B2, A, and C, Iron, and Magnesium. Moringa leaves also contain beta carotene, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid. Moringa leaves contain over 90 nutrients, causing them to be dubbed a miracle tree and the ultimate superfood.
Moringa’s numerous health benefits include; anti-diabetic, diuretic properties, improving blood circulation and enhancing heart health, lowering cholesterol levels, etc. Moringa leaves can be added to the diet or prepared as a decoction. Capsule and powder forms of the leaf extract are also available.
Pu-erh tea is an excellent superfood and perhaps, the most expensive one. This tea is derived from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), exclusively cultivated in the Pu-erh county of China’s Yunnan province. The tea is aged and has rich amounts of caffeine, polyphenols, catechins, and flavonoids, giving it numerous health benefits. Pu-erh tea is fermented by microbes, with a residual microbial activity conferring probiotic benefits on the tea.
Pu-erh tea is an oxidized tea that gets better with time. The older the Pu-erh tea, the rarer it is, and the more expensive it becomes. Health benefits derived from consuming this tea include; increased energy levels, enhanced circulation, improved heart health, free radical scavenging, weight loss, and improved bone health.
Pomegranates are packed with nutrients. They contain more than three times the antioxidants found in red wine and green tea. They are also rich in carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and phosphorus.
Pomegranates’ rich nutritional content makes them an excellent superfood with multiple nutritional benefits. They reduce inflammation, prevent atherosclerosis, and reduce the risk of stroke and heart diseases. Research shows that they can help slow aging and prevent certain types of cancer.
Purslane is commonly known as hogweed. However, this common weed might be the most beneficial one worldwide. Purslane is incorporated into Mediterranean diets in some parts of the world. This weed is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids that help prevent heart diseases. It is also rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, B, C, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, etc. It also offers substantial amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Purslane is an excellent superfood or ‘superweed’ that you should make a part of your diet.
Flaxseed is an excellent addition to recipes. Not only is this food loaded with incredible taste, but it is also loaded with many nutrients. A serving of flaxseed is adequate to provide you with substantial amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibers, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, copper, phosphorus, selenium, iron, thiamine, and folate, etc. Its rich nutrient content confers upon it many medicinal benefits.
Importantly, flaxseed is high in vitamin B1, thiamine, which significantly boosts energy levels. The abundance of antioxidants makes flaxseed an excellent food for preventing cellular aging, cancers, and neurodegeneration. Flaxseed is also loaded with aloha-linoleic acid, which helps reduce inflammations, and omega-3 fatty acid, which helps prevent heart diseases and reduce the risk of stroke. It is said that this was one of Gandhi’s favorite foods.
It’s no secret that food is an essential component of workouts and bodybuilding journeys. The nutrients obtained from food provide the energy needed to maintain routines, allow for muscle growth, improve mental alertness and promote recovery after injury.
With superfoods, these benefits are more pronounced. Superfoods provide all the nutrients the body needs with low-calorie content. Therefore, while reducing the risk of many diseases, the content of these foods is safe and does not trigger inflammations that can be detrimental to your bodybuilding journeys. Superfoods provide plenty of nutrients so that you do not have to eat so much to get the desired nutrients. The rich amount of antioxidants and phytoconstituents in these foods confer so many health benefits, helping to improve your bodybuilding journey drastically. Mental alertness, blood circulation, fat burning, energy, tissue recovery, and blood pressure regulation are components of workout routines that these superfoods optimize. Thus, making you more efficient in reaching your goals.
However, the presence of superfoods does not mean you should forego a regular diet. Superfoods work better when they are part of a well-balanced diet. So do take those protein bars/shakes and carb load before workouts and maintain adequate fat intake. Everything you eat works synergistically to make you a better athlete.
As their name implies, superfoods are truly super. Pu-erh tea, cordyceps, flaxseeds, elk antler velvet, moringa, etc., are some more uncommon superfoods. These are highly beneficial when bodybuilding or maintaining good health generally. Ensure to incorporate these foods into your diet plan and watch yourself slowly become like superman.