Superfoods. Are They Even Real?

Cory Mazure | 21 Dec, 2021

Is there such a thing as superfoods? Well kind of. There are foods that are extremely good for you, but the term “superfoods” is sort of a buzzword that makes things sound more exciting than they are. 

A human can die of overconsumption of any food, even water. But obviously some things are damaging and cause long term damage, while some things support long term health much more than others. The foods that are damaging are commonly overconsumed in today’s society, and the beneficial ones are underconsumed. Trips to McDonald’s and Taco Bell are more common than ever while a focus on adding healthy and high in micronutrients is often overlooked. This is understandable because there is just so much contradicting information out there on which foods are healthy and which foods cause long-term harm, so it is extremely difficult to solidify a diet that you are confident is completely healthy. 

With so much uncertainty about which foods are actually healthy, it is important to slowly start adding foods that you are certain foster longevity one food at a time. This article will hopefully help you get started in this journey as it will be listing foods that are sometimes known as “superfoods”, or in other words, foods that are scientifically proven to promote long-term health. One consistency in many of these foods that will be listed is the fact that they contain antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight “free radicals”, or molecules that do harm to your body’s cells (the mechanism in which they damage your cells is complex and outside the scope of this article), and can help prevent serious illnesses like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and more.

Dark leafy greens

Dark leafy greens are considered to be very healthy additions to the diet, and for good reason. They provide a great amount of micronutrients and don't spike blood sugar levels. Two very popular choices, spinach and kale discussed below.


Kale is considered a superfood by many because of the incredible amount of micronutrients that it contains, while maintaining a low calorie count. There are several different types of kale such as:

  • Curly kale - The most common type, and has bright green leaves that look like ruffles. The flavor of this type is pungent and peppery.
  • Dinosaur kale - Has narrow green leaves that look sort of like dinosaur skin (hence the name). The leaves are attached to a firm stem that should be removed before consumption.
  • Redbor kale - Has ruffled leaves ranging in color from a deep red purple.
  • Russian kale - This type is a bit harder to find, and has flat fringed leaves that range in color from green to red to purple. This type has a more sweet and peppery flavor.
Curly Kale

All types of kale contain great amounts of vitamin A, K, B6, C, calcium, copper, potassium, thiamine, folate, iron and manganese. Just one cup of kale provides over 200% of your vitamin A for the day, and 700% of vitamin K! Like other dark leafy greens, kale has also been proven to be effective in helping to combat serious health problems such as high LDL (the bad cholesterol) and diabetes. 

Now that you are aware of the potential benefits of kale, it is important to discuss how to leverage its health benefits by using it in your diet. Firstly, it is important to wash kale thoroughly before use as it is listed highly in the US for pesticide contamination. Secondly, be cautious of eating large amounts of kale if you have pre-existing thyroid problems as it may exacerbate these issues. This may happen as kale contains something called progoitrin, which can interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis and block iodine that the thyroid needs to function in high quantities. If you have hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) currently, we suggest consulting your doctor before fully implementing kale. If you have no pre-existing health issues and would like to start implementing kale as soon as you can, then there are many different ways you can use it! You could eat kale raw, or steam it, wilt it into a soup, mash it with potatoes, make kale chips, cook it in a stir fry, roast it, or my favorite, put it in a smoothie! As you can tell, it is very easy to implement into the diet as it is commonly used as simply an addition to a meal. This is the beauty of kale, a little bit goes a long way and it is very easy to implement.


Like kale, spinach contains many valuable micronutrients such as vitamin K, folate, vitamin E, potassium, manganese and calcium. One aspect that many people don’t realize about spinach is that not only is the iron content high, but it is also a kind that is more readily available for your body to absorb than iron from animal sources like steak. 


Berries are some of the most healthy foods on the planet. They are loaded with the free-radical fighting antioxidants that were mentioned earlier in the article, and may reduce disease risk. Along with the antioxidants, they also provide many micronutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, folate, and manganese. One study conducted in 2008 showed that blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries have the highest antioxidant activity of commonly consumed fruits along with pomegranates (1). Berries are also very effective in maintaining blood sugar levels, even in those with insulin resistance. In fact, there was a study that showed that eating five ounces of puréed strawberries or mixed berries with bread led to about a 25% reduction in insulin levels when compared to eating the bread alone (2). This can be very useful when trying to create a diet as you don’t have to rely on unhealthy sweets high in sugar, but instead you can get sweetness and high flavor from something that doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. Berries also contain a good amount of soluble fiber, and can help increase feelings of fullness to prevent overeating. It is also thought that berries can help arterial health by improving endothelial function. “Endothelial function” refers to improving the single cell lining in your arteries that contribute to blood pressure control, and keep blood from clotting. If this is true, it would mean that berries are effective in reducing risk of heart disease especially when combined with the fact that they are high in antioxidants as well. Overall, berries are one of my favorite parts in my own diet as they offer such variety in taste and provide me with valuable health benefits.


Legumes are a class of vegetables that include beans, peas and lentils, and are extremely versatile and nutritious. Legumes are low in fat, contain no cholesterol and are high in micronutrients like potassium, iron and magnesium. They are also a good source of protein, but the proteins they provide are not as readily available to the body as protein from meat, so if you are seeking to replace meat with legumes, be weary of that.

There are many different types of legumes, but the main types are beans, peas, and lentils. Within those categories there are more that are worth mentioning like:

  • Edamame
  • Garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Soy nuts
  • Pinto beans
  • Anasazi beans
  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas

Now there are even more on this list, but these are some commonly used legumes, and most are pretty easy to prepare. Some of these legumes like edamame can even be bought frozen and simply be put in the microwave to enjoy. They are also easier to digest as the fermentation process breaks down the sugars and starches for your stomach before ingesting them. This allows your body to better absorb the nutrients stored in these foods, so not only do they provide you with nutrients like other foods on the list, but they also make other nutrients more readily available to your body. Some 

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are extremely healthy for your gut as they provide beneficial bacteria to your stomach. They have a probiotic-like effect by helping restore the balance of bacteria in the gut, and therefore relieving many gut issues. 

Bonus - Green tea

Although it's drunk instead of eaten, green tea was still worth mentioning for this article as it can be a great addition to any diet. Like many other foods in this article, green tea contains a high amount of antioxidants, specifically flavonoids. The reason that green tea was listed instead of another kind of tea like black tea is because it is one of the healthiest kinds, as well as the most commonly known.. Drinking tea regularly (of any type) can be very beneficial for long-term health, and is believed to even boost brain function. This is likely due to the fact that it contains caffeine, a mental stimulant. Although it doesn’t contain much caffeine (only about a third of coffee), it can be an important point to consider when implementing it into your diet. It is not recommended to use tea with caffeine in it late at night as it may negatively affect sleep, but you may consume tea that does not contain caffeine in the evening.

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