June 22, 2021 8 min read

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    What constitutes a "superfood"?

    What constitutes a "superfood"?

    The word “superfood” gets tossed around a lot. There's no single definition or set of criteria to classify a food as a superfood. Essentially, superfoods are foods that are thought to be extremely nutrient-dense, healthy, and potentially able to help cure certain ailments.

    The ambiguity around this naming convention means that a superfood to one person (or one company) might not be all it's chalked up to be, for another. This is what we're looking for in a superfood supplement worthy of becoming a pantry staple:

    • Proven health benefits:Is it all hype or have significant studies been done to prove its efficacy? Is it beneficial for many different people with various health goals or afflictions?
    • Versatility:Is it easy to take? Can it be used to cook with/add to other dishes and beverages? Does it interact with certain medications? Is it good for a range of people and diets?
    • How does it compare to other "mainstream" foods:Is it on par with other common foods nutritionally? Are other foods comparable in benefits, yet more affordable or easily accessible?

    Rather than comparing, say, a leaf of kale vs a handful of strawberries, we examined the most concentrated, supplemented forms of individual superfoods. For instance, instead of examining x inches of turmeric root, we evaluated curcumin supplements which are a potent, dehydrated form of turmeric. This often ensures 1) they have a longer shelf life 2) they are more consistent 3) they contain the most "super" ingredients of each superfood.

    Here are some of our favorite supplements to consider, recipes to use them in, and some things to consider before you purchase!

    Superfood Staples Worth Adding To Your Pantry

    Collagen:Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. As we age, our natural protein production slows, which can lead to joint pain, loss of muscle mass, sagging skin, wrinkles, and even gastrointestinal issues. Collagen is beneficial for people of all ages and may be particularly helpful for those with gut issues, arthritis, athletes, and anyone looking for clear youthful skin and healthy hair. No need for cycling or taking breaks, collagen is safe to use every day.

    Superfood Staples Worth Adding To Your Pantry

    • Proven health benefits: Supplementation of collagen has been foundto improve skin elasticity, hydration, and wrinkle depth. Numerous studies have found that collagen can improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain for athletes as well. Since it is a protein, it can help individuals to boost muscle mass, whether you want to see better results in the gym, have sarcopenia, or are fighting against age-related muscle loss.
    • Versatility: High-quality collagen powder should be colorless, flavorless, and odorless. Amandean's premium marine collagen is gluten-free, free of artificial flavors and sweeteners, and soluble in both hot and cold liquids. It has been hydrolyzed to its most bioavailable form, meaning it can be used effectively by the body. This also means it will blend seamlessly into cold brews, hot tea, and even smoothies, oats, pancakes, and more. It gets an A+ in terms of versatility and ease of use!
    • How it compares:A popular alternative to collagen is whey protein. Whey is the run-of-the-mill protein powder that you'll find in most protein bars. Rather than being sourced from cows or fish, whey is sourced from dairy. Whey contains more amino acids than collagen and is often cheaper. However, because it is sourced from dairy, it can be difficult to digest for some. It's not cold soluble and has a lingering flavor that many people dislike. Finally, it is not as bioavailable as collagen, meaning it isn't as easily absorbed by the body. Though it can be used in similar applications as collagen, you end up getting more bang for your buck from collagen than whey protein powder.

    The moringa tree

    Moringa:Moringa is one of the buzzy "super greens" that you’ve probably seen in headlines, and it’s worthy of its name! Moringa is a tree that is native to India. It has been used for centuries for its antifungal, antiviral, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Today, it has earned the accolade as a superfood due to its wealth of nutrients and antioxidants.

    • Proven health benefits: Moringa is a good source of vitamins of which many people are deficient. One cup of fresh moringa provides: 2g of protein, 19% of the RDA of vitamin B6, 12% of vitamin C, 11% of iron, 11% of riboflavin, 9% of vitamin A, and 8% of magnesium. It has been found to significantly increase blood antioxidant levels, which may help in lowering inflammation and strengthening the immune system. It has been provento help lower cholesterol and may be able to lower blood sugar as well, which may help to support heart health and protect against heart disease.
    • Versatility: Since moringa is easy to dehydrate and turn into a powder, it makes adding it to your favorite smoothies, teas, and even desserts a breeze. You can steep moringa powder with green tea (another age-old superfood), add it to smoothies or juices, sprinkle it over yogurt with granola, or even bake with it like you would with matcha. It even works well sprinkled over other veggies like Brussels sprouts. Moringa does have a bitter and slightly sweet taste to it, so it makes a statement in whatever dish you add it to.
    • How it compares:Moringa competes with other leafy greens for the spotlight, but here's why we think it's better. Moringa has more fiber, magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamins like vitamin K and vitamin A, than spirulina. The same is true of kale, with the exception of vitamin A. Although spinach and kale are more accessible, moringa is more worthy as a pantry staple because it has more nutrients, versatility, and a longer shelf life.

    Glutathione supplementation

    Glutathione:Glutathione is our body's "master antioxidant" that helps to detoxify every cell in your body. Glutathione becomes depleted as we age by environmental toxins, oxidative stress, and processed foods. Glutathione supplementation is critical in helping your immune system do its job of fighting infections, while supporting detoxification of the liver and promoting vital brain functions.

    • Proven health benefits: First and foremost, as an antioxidant glutathione helps to reduce oxidative stress that can lead to diseases down the road. It can help to detoxify the liver, whether due to alcohol damage or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Numerous studies have found it aids diabetics and older adults in improving insulin resistance. It may also help fight against autoimmune disease, improve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, and improve psoriasis. It's considered safe and effective for many people, especially as a preventative method.
    • Versatility: Amandean's liposomal glutathione is a highly bioavailable liquid supplement. Glutathione, by nature, has a sulfur-like taste and smell, so it's not recommended for you to consume on its own. It pairs well with citrus and fruit juices, or can be added to lemon water to start off your day. You can use it in cocktails, mocktails, and smoothies too! The only “kitchen restriction” is to avoid adding it to hot dishes because it can break down the liposomes. Add it to your cold brew instead of your hot lattes and you’re golden!
    • How it compares:Glutathione can be compared to other superfoods like berries that also contain antioxidants, foods that naturally contain glutathione, or other supplements like turmeric. Like any supplement, glutathione helps to fill in dietary gaps and relieves some of the pressure on your meals to be the single source of nutrients. Turmeric has similar properties to glutathione, but in some cases it can interact with medications, especially those taken for autoimmune disorders. Turmeric can safely be taken with glutathione to potentially boost its results.

    MCT Oil

    MCT Oil: Last but not least, MCT oil is another superfood that has been making headlines and establishing itself as a staple in keto diets. MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides or medium chain fat. They are a saturated fatty acid that can be found in coconuts, among other foods. MCT oil is a great healthy fat alternative that is said to support weight loss, fat burning, and exercise performance.

    • Proven health benefits: MCT oil may support weight loss by increasing satiety (the feeling of fullness). It provides a much quicker and more efficient source of energy than LCTs (long chain triglycerides), which may improve the body’s ability to burn fat and calories and provide quick energy to increase athletic performance. Preliminary studies also indicate that MCT oil may be able to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol.
    • Versatility: MCT oil is not comparable to coconut oil, juice, milk, or even coconut shavings, it is a highly concentrated supplement that contains the best parts of this superfood. Many people find that MCT oil has a very mild or unnoticeable taste. It has both savory and sweet applications in quinoa and whole grain pasta, over peanut butter toast, in juicy smoothies, coffee, salad dressings, chia seed puddings, and drizzled over roasted vegetables. Basically, anywhere you could add olive oil, you can add MCT oil! With that said, because MCT oil is expensive, it should not be used to cook with, but rather added as a garnish. More studies are needed before we can tell if heat degrades this superfood supplement.
    • How it compares: MCT oil can be compared to olive oil. If you are following a diet that prioritizes fat consumption over carbohydrate consumption, then MCT oil is a great choice. It has a quicker release of energy which can assist athletes, and makes it more likely to be used for energy rather than stored for fat. With that said, MCT oil is much more expensive than many olive oils that you can find in the grocery store. Olive oil is great for healthy eating, especially for the Mediterranean diet, and should remain a kitchen staple for sauteing and roasting veggies. However, if you are looking for a quick burst of energy, consider adding MCT oil to your meal.

    There are many shelf-stable, wallet-friendly superfoods that we recommend stocking up on and adding to your favorite recipes like:

    • Dark chocolate
    • Cashew, pecan, and other nut butters
    • Quinoa
    • Lentils
    • ​Buckwheat

    Lastly, a quick disclaimer: A superfood for YOU might not be a superfood for somebody else. It all comes down to your diet, health, and even taste preferences. These are some of the favorites that we recommend having around to add a healthy boost to whatever recipe you whip up! If you need help finding recipes or evaluating your alternatives, check out the Amandean blogfor inspiration!

    Summary Points:

    Superfoods are foods that are thought to be extremely nutrient-dense, healthy, and potentially able to help cure certain ailments.

    Collagen is beneficial for people of all ages and may be particularly helpful for those with gut issues, arthritis, athletes, and anyone looking for clear youthful skin and healthy hair.

    One cup of fresh moringa provides: 2g of protein, 19% of the RDA of vitamin B6, 12% of vitamin C, 11% of iron, 11% of riboflavin, 9% of vitamin A, and 8% of magnesium.

    Glutathione supplementation is critical in helping your immune system do its job of fighting infections, while supporting detoxification of the liver and promoting vital brain functions.

    MCT oil provides a much quicker and more efficient source of energy than LCTs (long chain triglycerides), which may improve the body’s ability to burn fat and calories and provide quick energy to increase athletic performance.

    Article References:

    1. https://www.healthline.com/health/glutathione-benefits#glutathione-benefits
    2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-benefits#6.-Other-health-benefits
    3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-benefits-of-moringa-oleifera#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3



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