What are Superfoods?

[The Complete Guide in Under 10 Minutes]


If you guessed they are non-processed foods with a super rich nutrient profile; then you are off to a good start.

But what’s with all the hype?

After you read this blog, you’ll discover what superfoods are and how they might benefit your health. We will also cover how superfoods may improve digestion, immunity, wellness, and even athletic performance.

In a hurry?
no worries, Read At your convenience.

Superfoods explained

What makes them so super after all?

Although there’s no official definition of superfoods; they are considered foods that contain a high amount of a essential vitamins, minerals, or other health-boosting compounds.

A common misconception is that superfoods are plant-based foods only.

However, due to its rich nutritional profile containing protein and omegas, salmon is considered a superfood; while mushrooms are fungi, and spirulina and chlorella are algae.

Superfood Benefits

To understand the real benefits of superfoods, it is essential to take a step back and understand nutrition from a higher perspective.

In order to reap the benefits of foods, superfoods, and even supplements; we must drastically reduce (or fully eliminate) processed foods, sugars, alcohol, and saturated fats from our diet.

The good news is we can all do reduce processed foods from our daily nutrition. There are no magic tricks required; only the selection of better food choices through sheer discipline and willpower.

Now that we covered the fundamentals of a healthier nutrition, let’s explore a second layer of factors that contribute towards health benefits such as athletic performance, better digestion, cognitive function, cardiovascular health, mental clarity, and even mood.

This second layer is composed of physical activity, sleep, and of course, nutrient-rich foods (superfoods.) 

At NutraHouse we tend to be sports junkies, so let’s kick it off with the relation of superfoods and athletic performance.

How can superfoods improve athletic performance?

Reducing Inflammation

Superfoods improve athletic performance by reducing inflammation in the body. 

When consuming sugars or processed foods, our bodies respond with inflammation. If this happens once, it will not really have an impact on our bodies and we can just move on.

However, most of us are exposed to these triggers on a daily basis. This results in chronic inflammation which can lead to chronic illness. 

Muscle Recovery

Athletic performance heavily relies on how fast your muscles can recover in-between training sessions.

Since inflammation is also a natural reaction to fatigue and exercise; superfoods can help muscle recovery through its antioxidant properties.

Your athletic performance heavily depends on how fast you can recover in-between your training sessions. Therefore, superfoods can help muscle recovery through its anti-inflammatory properties. 

Nutrient Absorption and Sports Supplements

If you want to get your money’s worth on all proteins, pre-workouts, and BCAAs you purchase; then you are better off stacking them with superfoods.

Superfoods help you absorb and retain nutrients better. So if you really want the full spectrum of that protein scoop, then make sure you are getting enough fiber and digestive enzymes in your diet as well.


A person running on a track feeling in great shape and cardiovascular health because of her training and healthy nutrition.

Detoxifying with superfoods

A kitchen showing some superfood examples for detoxing such as ginger, cranberry, kiwi, lime, and others.

Detoxification is the process of converting toxins into less toxic molecules. 

We are constantly exposed to toxins. These come from air, water, and soil pollution, as well as our food supply.  Cosmetic items and cleaning supplies also contribute to this problem.

Eliminating these toxins is essential for our health.

In fact, it is so important that our liver is constantly doing the work for us. The liver converts these toxic substances to highly reactive metabolites and then excretes the toxins.

Our kidneys, lungs, and skin also participate in the process.

It is only logical that we support these essential organs with foods that can help and even accelerate the detoxification process. 

Signs that your liver is overwhelmed include bloating, skin problems, constipation, fatigue, body odor, weight loss resistance, brain fog, and even unfavorable mood swings.

Superfoods like beetroots, lemon, green tea, spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass,  garlic, and ginger all have distinct capacities to support and protect the liver.


Superfoods are Essential for Digestion

Your body doesn’t digest food. That is the function of the microbiome.

This is the collective of millions of bacteria and enzymes that help your gut extract and absorb the nutrients from your food; making them small enough to pass through the intestine wall.

What’s left over after this extraction, is fiber. This becomes waste your body doesn’t need.

Feeding fiber to the microbiome helps with digestion, but several studies suggest that your microbiome also plays a vital role in weight management, mood, and warding off disease by fighting infection.

Not consuming enough fiber in your diet can cause you to feel hungry even after you eat, make you feel bloated and constipated, and can even give you a leaky gut.

Quinoa, chia, flax seeds, sweet potatoes, broccoli, lentils, artichokes, almonds, oats, even popcorn and dark chocolate are great sources of fiber. Although not fiber, Greek yogurt is also great for your microbiome.

Kitchen spoons demonstrating different types of fiber and seeds such as chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, and others.

Superfoods & Weight Loss

Girl practicing difficult yoga pose and pushing her limits

We are often asked if superfoods are good for weight loss.

Short answer: Yes, they absolutely are.

However, relying on superfoods without practicing the fundamentals of a healthy nutrition is the quickest route to a super-disappointment.

Leafy greens like kale and spinach, high fiber foods, and spices such as ginger and turmeric can all contribute to speeding up your metabolism. As a result, the food you consume gets burned quicker.

High fiber foods also help you regulate the absorption of sugar and and improve blood sugar levels.

Whole foods and healthy fats like nuts and seeds, avocado, oats, and salmon can also keep you from feeling hungry for a longer time.

Add constant physical activity to your healthy nutrition habits and you can surely lose unwanted weight. What’s even better? These habits will promote better cardiovascular health and cognitive function.

Superfood Examples

We have now covered the fundamentals of a healthy nutrition, the meaning of superfoods, as well as their wellness benefits.

Let’s take a look at some superfood examples and their specific benefits to your health.

Keep these in mind  next time you are at the grocery store.


Spirulina mixed in water for detoxifying

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows in freshwater in several exotic locations around the world.

How exotic? 

Hawaii and Japan are two of the leading sources of spirulina; but its use in Mexico can be dated all the way back to the Aztecs.

Spirulina is so nutritionally dense, that it has been researched by NASA since the late 1980’s.

NASA & nutrition? 

Absolutely! (read the full study here.)

In the artificial environment of a spacecraft, astronauts still need to be provided with life essentials in order to conduct space explorations for months at a time. That’s water, oxygen, the removal of human wastes, and of course, food. All without counting on the natural resources of the earth’s biosphere.

NASA actively researches unconventional food sources such as photosynthetic algae and bacteria as well as non-photosynthetic bacteria like yeasts and fungi.

Although not highly palatable, these food sources grow more efficiently than conventional foods (other life forms, fruits, and vegetables) and they produce the highest ratio of nutrient rich edible content.

In terms of nutrition we can all relate to, the protein content of spirulina is 50 to 70 percent of its weight; while on red meat it’s roughly about 27 percent.

Other spirulina benefits constantly researched include the detoxification of heavy metals, enhancement of immune function, and the protection against free radicals in the brain.

A superfoods bowl with raspberries, blackberries, mango, almond, acai, coconut, and more.


Alfalfa is a green plant that contains plenty of vitamin C, as well as vitamin B, calcium and anti-oxidant compounds. It also contains high amounts of dietary fiber. Thus, alfalfa improves your digestion and fights inflammation.

Certain phytochemicals in alfalfa also seem to reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can cause damage to cells, and improve DNA health. (1)


Blueberries are known for their strong blue color and authentic taste. They also contain loads of polyphenols like flavonoids. (2) These are antioxidants that have a positive effect on cell health.

Blueberries also contain folate, potassium, and fiber. These compounds are particularly important to your digestion.


The leafy green that has increasingly gained popularity amongst kitchens and juice bars; and for a great reason.

A cup of chopped kale can get you up to 130% of your daily value of vitamin C and 200% of vitamin A. Kale is also readily available for everyone so pick it up in your next trip to the grocery store and begin adding it to your meals as a salad, a side dish, or you may even throw it in your blender and make your own kale smoothie with other greens and fruits.

Did we mention kale also promotes good cholesterol and immunity?


Just because it is a superfood, it doesn’t mean that it has to be rare and unheard of.

Our brains seem to be wired to think of health every time the word spinach comes up, and for several good reasons.

For thousands of years, spinach has been a staple to different cultures around the world; providing our ancestors with essential vitamins like folate, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C,; as well as potassium, zinc, magnesium, and iron.


Turmeric or curcumin is a root similar in form to ginger. Its origin lies in India and has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is also a staple in Indian cuisine.

Curcumin is most famous for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities. By targeting bodily processes like interleukin and tissue growth factor. This improves pulmonary function. Turmeric also reduces chronic inflammation and improves cell function. (3)

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds have plenty of soluble and insoluble fiber. Your microbiome loves both.

Thus, flax seeds improve digestion and strengthen your immune system.

Flax seeds also contain a high amount of omega 3 fatty acids that support cell health and brain function.  Omega 3 is broken down into DHA which plays a role in the process of creating new neuronal connections in your brain; known as neurogenesis. (4)

A close up image of a broccoli. Is it a coincidence that its shape is similar to the brain?


Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. Just like all other vegetables in the cruciferous family, like cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli sprouts, it contains a chemical called glucosinolates. (5) In the liver, these compounds turn into a compound called sulforaphane.

These compounds have great cell protecting capacities. Broccoli also contains plenty of vitamin C and vitamin K. The latter helps to fight free radicals in the body and inflammation.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, iron, and magnesium. Moreover, the seeds contain the anti-oxidant vitamin E. But in a different composition than most food sources. The completeness of the vitamin E profile makes it a real anti-oxidant powerhouse.

Then, pumpkin seeds seem to have great anti-microbial effects. This includes anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. This particular function can help your body ward off viral diseases like the flue and fungal infections.


Beetroot has strong detoxing capacities. The red color in this root comes from betaine and pectin. These two chemicals protect your liver and improve your digestion.
At the same time, these chemicals help to level out the acid-alkaline balance in your blood. This results in an even bigger detox effect.

Beet roots also contain plenty of minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. And high amounts of fiber that aids your digestion.

Lion's Mane

Lion’s Mane is a raw superfood mushroom often referred to as the pom-pom or monkey head mushroom because of its appearance. 

Several studies suggest that Lion’s Mane stimulates the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and reverses cognitive impairment.

Lion’s Mane can be eaten raw or cooked in its natural form; or it can also be found as an extract that you may mix into your favorite juice, smoothie, protein shake, or coffee.


Eating More Superfoods is a Choice

You have now learned the definition of superfoods, the benefits they represent, and even some of the best superfood examples.

That being said, we strongly believe the biggest takeaway of this article is that when it comes to nutrition and health, quality & discipline matter. 

And that’s great news!

Because (in most cases) you are ultimately in control of your own food choices.

 Be mindful about how you feel after a each meal. Your body and mind will consistently reward you for cutting off sugars and processed foods.

Practice other good habits such as regular physical activity and meditation, and you could potentially live a happier and more fulfilling life.




  1. Sadeghi L, Tanwir F, Yousefi Babadi V. Antioxidant effects of alfalfa can improve iron oxide nanoparticle damage: Invivo and invitro studies. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2016;81:39-46. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2016.07.010
  2. Drozdz P, Seziene V, Pyrzynska K. Phytochemical Properties and Antioxidant Activities of Extracts from Wild Blueberries and Lingonberries. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2017;72(4):360-364. doi:10.1007/s11130-017-0640-3
  3. Lelli D, Sahebkar A, Johnston TP, Pedone C. Curcumin use in pulmonary diseases: State of the art and future perspectives. Pharmacol Res. 2017;115:133-148. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2016.11.017
  4. Rathod R, Kale A, Joshi S. Novel insights into the effect of vitamin B(1)(2) and omega-3 fatty acids on brain function. J Biomed Sci. 2016;23:17. doi:10.1186/s12929-016-0241-8
  5. Abdull Razis AF, Noor NM. Cruciferous vegetables: dietary phytochemicals for cancer prevention. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(3):1565-1570. 

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