To continue on the topic of the previous post, we will take a stab at developing a superfood diagram. I believe that this may be very useful in helping us to further refine our proposed & working definition of “Superfood & Superfoods.”
What is a Superfood
Reviewing information from our previous post, “Why are Superfoods Important?“: A superfood is any food that contains significant amounts of several beneficial nutrients or exceptional amounts of one or more substances known or believed to have important health benefits. Those substances must be bio-available and useable by the body in the form that the food is typically consumed (which may entail some reasonable degree of processing &/or preparation). It is generally expected that such foods occur naturally and have withstood the test of time; this helps to insure that they are free from, or at least relatively low in, negative traits. As such, a superfood will ideally have been recognized by one or more cultures over several generations. See a list of superfoods here.
Rather than being a simple “black & white” distinction, food categorization is more appropriately placed on a continuum. We therefore propose the following diagram as a way to help understand and categorize which foods are truly superfoods.
Nutritional Value & Special Nutritional Properties
Negative: Junk Foods; virtually no significant beneficial nutrients and numerous negative traits.
Poor: Refined & devitalized foods such as white flour & white sugar; negligible to low levels of one or several beneficial nutrients along with some negative traits.
Weak: A few beneficial nutrients in relatively small amounts along with one or more negative traits.
Moderate: Contains moderate amounts of a few beneficial nutrients without any major detrimental traits.
Good: Contains significant amounts of several beneficial nutrients without any negative traits.
Higher: Contains substantial amounts of a few beneficial nutrients and decent amounts of others without any negative traits.
Exceptional: Contains substantial amounts of several nutrients &/or proven beneficial substances without any negative traits.
Superfoods: Foods that have significant amounts (higher than most foods) of several beneficial nutrients or exceptional amounts of one or more beneficial nutrients (or some other special property) together with being recognized as a “nutritionally special” food by a culture over the course of at least several generations.
Types of Superfoods:
Concentrated Superfoods: Based on the definition of superfoods we and others have proposed, all superfoods are relatively concentrated in terms of nutrient density, however, even among superfoods, there are those that are especially concentrated. These concentrated superfoods are historically used in relatively small amounts. They are used more as tonics, supplements &/or spices than as foods. Most of these concentrates are typically promoted & advertised as superfoods having “special, almost magical properties.” And, while they are most definitely “superfoods” by definition, they are not the types of foods most people are likely to make a part of their daily dietary regimen.
Everyday or Staple Superfoods: These are superfoods that are both more common & less concentrated than concentrated superfoods. They consist of superfoods that can be consumed in significantly larger amounts and have the ability to make up a substantial portion of one’s daily food intake.