We’ve all heard the term junk food before and now you’re probably hearing the term superfoods.
We all know that junk foods are bad for us and we shouldn’t eat them, but let’s break down what makes food super or what is considered superfoods. There are various factors that actually make food super. The following are categories to consider when it comes to superfoods and what makes them important.
Nutrient density is how much nutrition is crammed into a specific food. As you might have guessed, superfoods are full of nutrition, macronutrients such as your carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and micronutrients such as your minerals and vitamins. There are some points to keep in mind here as some foods may contain some nutritional value, but are not considered superfoods because their nutrient density is lower than a super food. For example, you would have to eat around 100+ granola bars to get the same nutrients found in a coconut.
Calorie density is the amount of calories contained in a given amount of food that you are eating. Nutrient density and calorie density are basically linked because you’ll have to consider how many calories you are consuming in order to get the desired amount of nutrients.
A term growing in popularity these days is fiber and it’s not by mistake. Fiber is an essential factor for our GI tracts to function properly with digesting and expel the foods we are eating. Fiber is also important because it helps fill you up and feel satisfied. Something to keep in mind is that a lot of processed foods have the fiber extracted to increase the shelf life. This of course is why fresh is better.
A good comparison to note: A Big Mac contains three grams of fiber and just about 600 calories. An apple also contains three grams of fiber, but only sixty-five calories.
The glycemic index of food is how quickly the food you eat turns into sugar in your blood. The higher the glycemic index or the faster the rate food turns into sugar in your blood the more this food would be considered junk food. Our bodies do need sugar in our blood because that’s how we get energy, but there are problems when your body is flooded with sugar too quickly. Your body will react with high amounts of insulin, because insulin is going to help transfer the sugar for your bodies use. Another problem this causes is the excess sugar that can’t be used is eventually stored as fat. Superfoods are definitely going to have a low glycemic index which translates to a slower and steady release of sugar into the blood avoiding insulin bursts. When this happens your body is able to use all the sugar and not store as fat.
Natural Vs. Processed
Most junk foods are processed or man-made and are not from the earth (I’ve never seen a twinkie tree before, have you?). Foods that come from the earth definitely have a lot more nutritional value to them.
In summary, superfoods have high nutrient density and fiber, low calorie density and glycemic index and are natural. All of this is extremely important, because junk foods will eventually contribute to weight gain, nutritional deficiencies and a lack of energy. The more awareness you have around superfoods the healthier and happier you’ll be.
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