For quite some time now, superfood happens to be a much-discussed health and wellness topic, and the list keeps growing by the day. If you wondered what exactly a superfood is, you probably aren’t alone. Most people wonder about this term. If one has to be honest, it is a purely marketing term used to promote some nutrition-dense foods.
No one food can be termed as THE SUPERFOOD, one that provides all the nutrition you need to sustain. However, some foods seem to be quite rich in nutrition and help you get a good proportion of your required daily nutrition intake, termed RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance). Some foods provide the required RDA, and thus when included in the daily diet, they prove beneficial. Hence, the term superfood was coined.
A few elements of our common Indian diet fall into this category, for example, turmeric and garlic. Pomegranate, which is used in India for its medicinal values has also been touted as a superfood in recent times. We also have some foreign additions like Kiwi fruit and chia seeds which resemble the Indian sabja seeds.
However, you may be surprised to know that some ancient Indian foods like millets and Moringa (drumstick) are also part of the 2022 superfood list. Also, some unexpected names like Hemp seeds and sweet potatoes are on that list. Perse, if you find that some element of the diet can provide a sufficient boost to your health and immunity, it will make its way to the superfood list. As research progresses, so will this list.
Some Common Superfoods
Not all superfoods are exotic or expensive. In fact, there are a few superfoods which are indigenous to India and are quite easily available too. Sabudana(sago pearls), made from tapioca, (which is the starch extracted from the roots of the cassava plant) contains a plethora of health benefits. The starch in sabudana, known as resistant starch, is prebiotic in nature and helps in promoting good gut health. Sabudana also contains zinc, which aids in building the body’s immune response.
Sattu (roasted gram flour), once known as the poor man’s protein, is rich in iron, calcium and fibre. It helps in blood circulation and reducing inflammation, while also strengthening hair follicles and improving skin quality.
Jackfruit is an extremely versatile and valuable superfood which is widely available across the country. It is a storehouse of vitamin A and C, which protects against viral infections and is also a very good source of antioxidants, helping in improving immunity. The seeds of jackfruit are also of many uses, as they not only help in keeping good eye, hair and skin health, but also in building up bone density.
Turmeric, pomegranate, ginger, garlic, nuts and seeds, and ancient grains like millet, amaranth, etc. that have always been part of our diet, are popular superfoods.
In India, we use turmeric in many home remedies. It is also used on many auspicious occasions like the Haldi ceremony before a wedding. Golden milk is one of India’s most popular home remedies against cold, cough, and many common infections.
Turmeric is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties as well. It is a compound called curcumin in turmeric that makes it so powerful. A lot of research is happening on this, and it possesses anti-cancer properties, apart from helping chronic heart diseases and diabetes, etc.
Ginger also is used in many home remedies and is rich in antioxidants, while garlic has a lot of nutrients beneficial to us. Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and even hemp seeds are said to belong to the superfood category. Among common fruits in India, pomegranate and kiwi fruit are called superfoods.
Additionally, all fermented foods fall in the superfood category, as they help keep the gut healthy by promoting good bacteria growth and easy bowel movements. A good gut promotes overall good health. Foods like kefir, yogurt, kimchi, cheese, etc. come under the good probiotic category that helps us.
Among grains, millets are now becoming very popular as they are considered super healthy and diabetic-friendly. Moreover, grains are fibre-rich and filled with nutrients. All cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, etc. are called superfoods because of the numerous nutrients present in them. Apart from all this, legumes and beans that Indians include in the staple diet like chickpeas, lentils, peas, etc. are also superfoods.
Few uncommon ones
There are a few uncommon foods in the superfood category as well. For example, cranberries are not easily available in India. We only get the dried ones here. However, they are full of nutrients and help ease blood pressure, manage cholesterol levels, and prevent heart diseases. They are popular as an effective Urinary Tract Infection remedy. Other berries like strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, etc. are also effective as superfoods.
Some seaweeds are becoming popular as highly nutritious vegetables, and they contain unique bioactive compounds, not otherwise seen. These have been part of Asian cuisines for quite some time. Mankai, termed the world’s smallest vegetable, is a high-protein aquatic plant. It is the only known plant source of Vitamin B12, the deficiency of which is a concern among seniors. Radish leaves and Manuka honey are some other lesser-known foods that are at times called superfoods. Some desi superfoods that are slowly becoming popular are banana stems and flowers, Colocasia leaves, sprouted moong, dark leafy greens, seafood, and sweet potatoes.
Therefore, Indians have access to and are eating a lot of superfoods in their staple diet, apart from a few uncommon ones. So, the next time someone mentions superfoods, you needn’t wonder about it. Perhaps, all that is needed to keep oneself healthy is a good mix and match of all these foods. When mixed up with some regular exercise, both physical and mental, it makes for a great way to live wholesomely.