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Superfoods. Do they exist? What is their impact on our body?

The term “superfood” is increasingly widespread by society, however, it generates opinions about its scientific definition, it is generally associated with high nutritional foods with health benefits. However, it is important to be aware that they will not be the “solution” for a healthier life although, they can help to achieve it more efficiently. An adequate diet, with variety, can under normal circumstances provide all the essential nutrients for the correct functioning of our organism and for the maintenance of this correct functioning.

However, given the current lifestyle, exposure to environmental pollutants, or stress, we are often unable to obtain all the nutrients necessary, and for that, it is important to resort to food supplementation, namely foods that are nutritionally richer in some compounds, which we call superfoods. These foods are a set of foods that contain higher levels of phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients), with many advantages for the body.

These foods are therefore very rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants, which allows for a significant improvement in their availability for the body, achieving more easily general physical well-being.

Examples and characteristics of Superfoods

Superfood (largest supply nutrient)AntioxidantsChlorophyllFibreOmega 3, 6 and 9Protein
Examples:Açai, Barley Herb, SpirulinaWheat Herb, SpirulinaChia, Goji, SpirulinaHempSpirulina
Constituent Properties:Prevention of aging and development of degenerative diseases.Promoting the proper functioning of fat metabolism and intervening in the body’s natural detoxification processes.Promotion of good gastrointestinal functioning.It benefits the cardiovascular system and is a supplier of plant-derived protein.

Although they do not replace a nutritionally balanced and regulated diet, these foods can be very beneficial for those looking to complement and vary their diet. They are versatile and can be introduced into the diet as toppings for pancakes/crepes, juices, smoothies, soups, or salads.

Metabolism can be defined as the process that takes place in our organism and allows for energy expenditure. Sometimes it is associated with the process of weight loss, that is, if it works in a more “accelerated” way, there will be greater efficiency in the supply of energy through the use of energy reserves. But are there foods that can promote it? Yes, thermogenic substances. These induce the body to expend a certain amount of energy during the digestive process.

The thermic effect of these compounds varies according to the type of macronutrient in question: Carbohydrates and proteins use more energy than fats, for example.

The thermogenic effect of foods varies with the composition of the diet, being greater after consumption of carbohydrates and protein than after consumption of fat. Fat is efficiently metabolized with only 4% loss, compared to 25% loss, when carbohydrate is converted to fat for storage.

Thus, the main thermogenic foods and compounds are listed: cayenne pepper, mustard, ginger, apple cider vinegar, caffeine, guarana, powdered guarana, green tea, Omega-3 or CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). These compounds can thus be introduced into the daily diet or introduced into everyday life using supplementation.

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The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

About Silvia Coelho

Silvia Coelho
Licenciada em Dietética e Nutrição com especialização em Nutrição Desportiva, exerce a sua atividade laboral essencialmente em ginásios e centros de treino personalizado. Tem larga experiência no acompanhamento de atletas de elite e recreativos de todas as faixas etárias. Nome profissional e o n° da cédula: Sílvia Costa Coelho 3756N

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