Superfood Diet: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Superfoods have largely been a marketing term for decades. What generally happens is a fruit or vegetable that hasn’t been the most popular in some time gets remarketed. Once it has the superfood “stamp” on it, people start to catch on and buy more of it. 

Today, we associate superfoods with foods that offer us the utmost nutrition. When we hear it, we know the food has a high content of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other health benefits. As of the writing of this article, there’s no standard for classifying a food as a superfood. 

However, the foods that have been declared superfoods do have scientific research to prove their health benefits. What constitutes a superfood then, and what does the diet entail?

What is the Superfood Diet?

What is the Superfood Diet?

The term superfood first appeared on the scene during the first world war. It was used as a marketing strategy. It was used to promote the import of bananas. The company that promoted bananas chose them because they’re cheap, easily digestible, nutritious, can be eaten raw or cooked, and sold everywhere. 

To get people to buy and consume bananas, people were recommended to eat them in cereal, in salads, and fried for dinner. The term took off once it was endorsed by medical journals. These journals chronicled the banana diet that was used to treat medical conditions. The American Medical Association advocated bananas in a child’s diet to rid celiac disease. 

Bananas then became a staple in everyone’s diet, especially children. 

Over the years, the term died down. In the 1990s, Michael Van Straten wrote a book about “four-star superfoods”. The list included common healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. Blueberries became the newest superfood and were backed by the US government. 

This led to more and more scientists and studies on superfoods to determine how healthy they are. It seems each month we have a new superfood as research expands. What makes superfoods so great? Superfoods are said to contain antioxidants and minerals that help prevent disease and boost the immune system.  

The marketing ploy on superfoods implies one of these foods will cure any ailments from sickness to weight loss. We know this isn’t the case. Can it help you since it’s healthy? Yes, but you need to eat healthily and get an ample amount of exercise too. It’s not a magic cure-all.

What are Superfoods?

Superfoods have become a buzzword and people may get confused when they see the superfood label on dozens of foods. You might wonder how a food even becomes a superfood. Does it need to undergo testing? Need approval from the government? Require extensive research?

When you Google superfoods you’re likely to see simple definitions that describe superfoods as a food that’s high in nutrients and beneficial for your health. That narrows it down somewhat but what does that include?

Superfoods contain a high nutrient value of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and healthy fats. These types of foods are key to your body’s survival and optimal health. While superfoods are high in nutrients, they’re low in calories. 

What do antioxidants do for the body? Antioxidants lessen and reverse the effects caused by free radicals. Free radicals are waste products produced by cells. When the body can’t process food and rid free radicals, oxidative stress occurs. Oxidative stress harms the body’s cells and affects body functions.

This type of stress has been linked to diseases and conditions like cancer, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, heart disease, and respiratory diseases. When you eat foods high in antioxidants, they help to combat these health issues. 

Currently, there’s no legal or official definition for superfoods. Any food could get classified as one since it’s not regulated. Typically, foods with this label do have nutrient-dense profiles and have scientific research backing the claims but it’s not required. 

The US allows the use of the word “superfood” to label foods, but the European Union has banned the label. Exceptions are made for sellers if they prove the food has an authorized health claim to show the product’s benefits.

Best Superfoods for Weight Loss Backed By Science

  1. Soy – Soy often gets a bad reputation for some of the potential negative side effects. However, it comes with many benefits. Soybeans have isoflavones, which are a type of phytochemical found in plants. 

The isoflavones in soy have been found to reduce bad cholesterol. Other studies have found soy to decrease bone loss in menopause and increase bone mineral density. It’s also showing promising results in the prevention of age-related memory loss.

  1. Leafy Greens – Leafy greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and collard greens are rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Leafy greens help with constipation and aid in healthy digestion because of their high water and fiber content. They also contain high amounts of iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Studies on leafy greens show they may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, helps aid in weight loss, and improves bone health. 

  2. Grapes – The skin of red grapes contains resveratrol. Resveratrol has been shown to protect and reduce symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Researchers also believe it can help aid in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, improve glucose levels, and reduce menopause symptoms. 

Grapes also contain a flavonoid quercetin. Quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory. It’s been shown to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, prevent cancer, and help calm seasonal allergies. 

  1. Fatty Fish – Fatty fishes like salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel are rich in omega-3s. Omega-3s decrease your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. They reduce cholesterol and slow the growth of plaque in the arteries. These types of fish also make for a great source of protein which helps to manage your hunger.

  2. Tea – Tea contains a high volume of antioxidants, specifically green tea. Green tea has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and helps prevent cancer. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, green tea may help with arthritis.

People often recommend green tea when on a diet because it has high levels of an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate. This antioxidant has shown promising results in aiding weight loss, boosting metabolisms, and reducing belly fat. When you buy green tea, make you aren’t getting a commercial brand. Commercial brands often undergo processing that removes key nutrients. 

  1. Berries – Berries are often on lists yearly for superfoods. Berries have high levels of flavonoids that lower the risk for heart attacks. Different types of berries provide various benefits. For example, acai berries contain antioxidants and a large amino acid profile. Blueberries contain manganese, vitamin K, and are high in fiber.

Cranberries help aid in UTIs and prevent them. Goji berries are used in Eastern medicine to treat conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. They contain high levels of vitamin C and E. 

  1. Broccoli – Multiple studies have found that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may prevent weight gain long term. Broccoli has high fiber and micronutrients like vitamin C, folate, potassium, and manganese. 

  2. Eggs – Studies go back and forth on whether eggs are good for you or not. However, there’s no denying that eggs are nutritious. They can be cooked in various ways to include them in many dishes or as a standalone. They’re high in protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. Eggs often get a bad reputation for the high-fat content in the yolk. However, if the fat content in the yolk concerns you, you can always consume the egg whites.

  3. Avocado – Avocados are one of the newest superfoods to hit the scene. It’s become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among millennials. Avocados are calorie-dense and contain high fiber and unsaturated fats. It’s also high in potassium, folate, and vitamin C and K. In limited studies, avocados were found to help reduce side effects of chemotherapy and prevent the growth of prostate cancer. Other studies have found that avocados may reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. 

  4. Bell peppers – Bell peppers come in a variety of colors to brighten your plate. They contain a high water content and low calories. This can help aid you in your weight loss. Bell peppers provide high fiber, potassium, and vitamins B6 and C. 

  5. Apples – Studies advocate for the consumption of apples despite the risks for pesticides in the skins (you can peel them if you have concerns). Apples have soluble fiber. This type of fiber, pectin, has been shown to reduce food intake and promote weight loss. Apples contain antioxidants, micronutrients, potassium, and vitamin C. 

  6. Chia Seeds – Chia seeds have been regarded as a superfood because of their nutrient content. They contain omega-3s, calcium, manganese, and magnesium. They’re also high in protein and soluble fiber. These nutrients help aid in weight and body fat loss, regulate appetite, and promote a healthy digestive tract. 

  7. Nuts – Nuts contain healthy fats, high protein, vitamins, and minerals. Nuts have been shown to reduce appetite and promote long-term weight loss despite the high-calorie content. 

  8. Oats – Oats have been a staple for many people’s breakfast for decades and for good reason. Oats are whole grains and contain fiber, manganese, phosphorus, copper, and protein. Studies over the years found that oats benefit appetite control and weight management. 

  9. Quinoa – Quinoa is a whole grain that has gain superfood stardom in the past few years. People now swap rice for quinoa. Quinoa contains high amounts of fiber, manganese, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus. The protein in quinoa is one of the few sources for plant-based eaters to get a complete protein. It contains all the essential amino acids your body will need. Quinoa studies found that it may help with appetite control. 

  10. Tomatoes – Tomatoes have few calories but a high water content. This helps with long-term weight loss. They’re also full of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins like C, K, and potassium. Studies on tomatoes have found them extremely beneficial to the body. Tomatoes contain a compound called lycopene. Lycopene was found to reduce the risk for some cancers. The vitamins in tomatoes have been shown to reduce heart problems, improve your hair, build strong bones, reduce the risk for kidney stones, and reduce negative effects caused by smoking. 

  11. Grapefruit – Studies of grapefruit consumption with humans have shown that it may help promote fat burn and weight loss. Grapefruit contains vitamin A and C with high fiber content. The downside to grapefruit is you can’t take it with certain medications. Consult a doctor or your prescription instructions before eating grapefruit. 

  12. Chickpeas – Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are closely related to other types of beans. Chickpeas differ from other beans because of their nutrient profile. They contain high amounts of copper, folate, manganese, or phosphorus. Studies show that chickpea consumption can slow your digestion, control appetite, and aid in weight loss. This is due to the high fiber and protein content. 

  13. Sweet Potatoes – Sadly the beloved regular potato doesn’t make the list for various reasons but it’s distant relative to the sweet potato does! The sweet potato variety is rich in antioxidants that help to fight cell damage. They’re high in vitamin A, B, C, and manganese. Sweet potatoes can help aid in weight and fat loss because of the high fiber they contain. 

  14. Fermented foods – Fermented foods like sauerkraut can help aid in digestion and promote gut health. A healthy gut has been shown to promote overall well-being and immunity. The probiotics found in fermented foods may help with appetite control and weight management. 

  15. Garlic – Garlic and other alliums contain many vitamins like manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium, and fiber. Garlic isn’t new to the superfood food scene. It was used for centuries in medicines and part of medical treatment for ailments. Research on garlic has shown it could help in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. Other studies find it improves immune function and reduces the risk for cancers and heart disease. 

  16. Ginger – Ginger has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. Ginger root contains most of its antioxidants. Multiple studies have found that ginger can help aid in digestive issues like pain, nausea, and inflammatory conditions. While the data isn’t conclusive, it has promising results in reducing chronic illnesses like dementia and cancer.

  17. Mushrooms – Mushrooms come in varieties. Each variety has a different nutrient profile. In general, mushrooms contain vitamin A, fiber, antioxidants, and potassium. Mushrooms have been shown to help prevent inflammation and may prevent certain cancers. 

  18. Pomegranate – Pomegranate is one of the most nutritious of exotic fruits. Pomegranate is a good source of vitamins. It contains vitamin C, E, K, folate, and potassium. Research surrounding pomegranate shows it can help prevent and aid many diseases. The research is still in its infancy and requires more but it does show it may reduce the risk of cancer and stall the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Those who have inflammatory diseases might benefit by adding pomegranate to their diet. 

  19. Ancient Grains – Ancient grains are grains that haven’t been changed in hundreds of years. These grains contain more nutrition than refined versions. For example, brown grain is more nutritious than white rice. Common grains like oats, barley, and wheat contain high fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. 

  20. Olive Oil – You might be surprised to see oil on the list, but olive oil does have health benefits. Olive oil contains antioxidants and vitamins E and K. The antioxidants help prevent cellular damage. Studies have found promising results with olive oil and the reduction of inflammation. Other studies show it may reduce heart disease and diabetes. 

  21. Beets – Beets are nutrient-dense. Studies on beets show they may help with blood pressure reduction, anemia, cognitive function, and improve circulation. Beets are a good source of nitrates, folate, magnesium, betaine, and potassium. 

  22. Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate isn’t just a sweet treat. It has a high content of flavonoids. Flavonoids help prevent heart disease, cancer, boost your immune system, and show antioxidant properties. The main component that gives dark chocolate its benefits come from the cacao powder. 

  23. Turmeric – Turmeric is from India and is commonly associated with ginger. Like ginger, it’s been used for centuries for cooking and medicinal purposes. The active ingredient, curcumin, has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory purposes. Most of the research conducted on turmeric focuses on this compound. Studies on curcumin show that it may help with wound healing, pain reduction, and aids in treating and preventing diseases like cancer and diabetes. 

  24. Spirulina – Spirulina is an ancient food that was consumed by Aztecs. It lost popularity but become popular again once NASA suggested it for astronauts. Spirulina research has shown it may provide various health benefits. Some of these benefits include improving blood sugars, muscle strength, allergies, and blood pressure. Other research shows it may help lower bad cholesterol levels, prevent anemia and cancer, and inflammatory properties.

Can You Lose Weight Eating Superfoods?

Can You Lose Weight Eating Superfoods?

Yes, you can. A superfood diet may not cure all your ailments, but it can help you to lose weight. The foods are healthy for you and will provide you with adequate nutrition. However, you need to consume more than what you normally would on a Standard American Diet when you consume superfoods. Much of the superfoods are low in calories. If you don’t consume enough, you can get sick. You will need to ensure you’re getting all your essentials minerals and vitamins. 

The largest problem with a superfood diet is the processing the food undergoes. For example, unless you’re buying organic fruits, vegetables, and nuts you will come across pesticides, added sugars, and unhealthy chemicals. 

While green tea is considered a superfood, the commercial versions of the tea can be filled with sugars and other teas which degrade the antioxidants. Whole grains often undergo harsh processing that makes them unhealthy. The processing can lead to high sugar levels, diabetes, or obesity.

Side Effects of a Superfood Diet?

Side Effects of a Superfood Diet?

Provide you receive adequate nutrition, there’s nothing wrong with a diet of superfoods. The only issues you’ll run into are the non-organic foods that contain chemicals and green tea being processed. If you plan to do this diet, you need to only consume organic versions to avoid potential health problems insecticides and pesticides cause.

Keep in mind superfoods are low in calories. If your diet consists of only superfoods or mainly superfoods, you’ll need to consume much more than you would on a standard diet. You can make yourself ill or cause deficiencies if you don’t eat enough food to sustain yourself. Those who have concerns or want to make sure they get enough calories can speak with a dietician or doctor for guidance.  

Another issue that’s more directly related to a psychological problem than physical is from the marketing standpoint. Consumers are compounded with information about how the superfood of the month has all these wonderful benefits. However, it can make consumers think of healthy foods not in the current spotlight is less than the currently marketed superfood. 

These foods still hold the superfood label but get pushed aside for the latest fad. Realistically, one is not better than the other. Sure, one could have more nutrients, but that doesn’t take away from how healthy another superfood is. 

On the opposite spectrum of that, it does highlight lesser-known foods that people may not have noticed, or thought were healthy. 

A problem that dieters run into is the cost of the food. Organic produce isn’t the cheapest or easily accessible. Some dieters start their own gardens or buy from local farmer’s markets. When they can’t, they do have to settle for standard produce. However, that doesn’t bring the cost down by much.

Sample Diet of Superfoods for Weight Loss

Breakfast

Coconut Chia Seed Pudding

Breakfast

Ingredients: five tablespoons of chia seeds, 14 oz of coconut milk, one tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract, nuts or fresh fruit as a topping

In a bowl, stir the milk, seeds, honey, and vanilla extract until the seeds are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours but overnight is better. Take it out and give it a stir. Taste and add any more honey or syrup if you want it sweeter. Then, add your fruit or nuts to top it.

Lunch

Lentil Salmon Salad

Lunch

Ingredients: ¾ cup of brown lentils, ½ cup of chopped red onions and ¼ cup divided, two minced garlic cloves, ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil, three tablespoons of red-wine vinegar, ¾ teaspoon of thyme, 15 oz of canned salmon, or one fillet, one cup carrot ribbons, one cup celery

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil and add the lentils and chopped onions. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until lentils are tender. It should take around 15 minutes. Drain them and put them aside. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, thyme, and garlic. If using canned salmon, flake and remove the bones and flake it into a bowl. 

Add the onions, carrots, the dressing, and toss to coat. Add the celery and lentils into the leftover dressing. This serves four, so divide the lentils and salmon. If using fillets, season them to your liking and cook thoroughly. Flake the fillet and follow the rest of the recipe.

Dinner

Cabbage Roll Chicken Enchiladas

Dinner

Ingredients: 12 cabbage leaves, 2 ½ cups of shredded chicken, one can of refried (spicy or plain) or black beans (drained), 1 ¾ cups of shredded cheese, one can of enchilada sauce

Bring a large pot to a boil and add the leaves for one minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pat the leaves dry. Preheat your oven to 350-degrees. Combine the chicken, cheese, beans in a bowl. Coat the bottom of your baking dish with some of the enchilada sauce so the leaves won’t stick. Use 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture and fill the leaves. Roll them into an enchilada and place seam-side down. Pour the remaining sauce over and top with any leftover cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes and serve!

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

“Superfoods” were discovered long ago and were mostly used as a marketing tool, and for the most part still are. First, it started with bananas that were pushed by the government to increase imports. Then, many years later, blueberries become the next popular food. 

However, before the push for a food to get the superfood label, it typically has scientific research backing it. This wasn’t always the case in the past. Luckily, the government didn’t end up pushing unnatural or poor nutritional foods. 

Superfoods aren’t magical cure-alls that will rid your diseases, but they do provide you with essential vitamins and nutrients. The superfood diet does have many benefits that can help you maintain optimal health. Overall, you will benefit from incorporating superfoods into your current diet. They shouldn’t be the only foods you consume but a large portion of your plate with them won’t hurt.

Start working on your weight loss goals


How would you like it if you

✓ Could be less dissatisfied with your body?
✓ Spend less time on your body and be able to do what you really care about?
✓ Learn to deal with that voice in your head?
✓ Stop letting your body image determine your day and emotions?
✓ Really change your relationship with food?
✓ Learn to appreciate your body, which will make you take better care of it?