There’s a lot to be said about the foods we put into our bodies–– after all, you are what you eat. If you eat unhealthy foods, you will feel unhealthy. It’s clear, the foods we choose to consume have a direct impact on how we feel.
One of the best ways to feel your best is to fuel your body with healthy and nutritious food. Consuming a diet that includes superfoods is one great way to do so. Packed with beneficial compounds your body needs to thrive, superfoods are thought to be nutritionally superior. The benefits of hemp are clearer than ever and some contend that hemp is the superfood you should be adding to your diet. Is hemp really a superfood? If so, what makes it nutritionally superior to other plant foods?
Let’s take a deeper look at what superfoods are and what makes them so beneficial for your health. We’ll answer the question that many health-conscious minds want to know: Is hemp a superfood?
Superfoods 101: What Are Superfoods? Is Hemp a Superfood?
Nutritional experts swear by them, health food fanatics can’t live without them, but what exactly are superfoods?
Superfoods are more than just “healthy foods.” They’re the foods that offer an outstanding nutritional profile in comparison to others. If you ask Google what makes superfoods so special, you’ll get nearly 18 million results.
Superfoods have been defined as foods that are “mostly plant-based but also some fish and dairy, that are thought to be nutritionally dense and thus good for one’s health.” The American Heart Association says there’s no set criteria for determining what is and what is not a superfood. Superfoods are simply believed to contain more health benefits than the rest.
The Health Benefits of Superfoods
Superfoods are said to contain some serious benefits to overall health and wellness. They can be ideal for anyone interested in becoming the healthiest version of themselves.
There are healthy foods, and there are superfoods. Superfoods take healthy foods to another level with their rich nutrient profile. Superfoods are rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that can help neutralize free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are potentially harmful molecules that can accumulate in the body and cause what’s known as oxidative stress. When not properly addressed, oxidative stress can lead to a host of health problems.
Can superfoods really help?
They definitely can, but experts warn they shouldn’t be considered a miracle or magic cure-all.
Don’t think that eating a spinach salad once a week and adding blueberries to your pancakes is going to give you the health boost superfoods are known for. Just like with everything else in life, it’s all about balance. Superfoods are like the icing on an overall balanced, healthy diet.
7 Super Common Superfoods
Some of the most well-known “superfoods” are foods many of us already eat on a regular basis. Depending on who you ask, the list of superfoods can be extensive. These seven items are some of the most popular superfoods:
Blueberries are some of the most nutrient-dense fruits that you can find in the grocery store. They’re rich in manganese, fiber and vitamins C and K. They’re also full of polyphenol antioxidants known as flavonoids. Blueberries are truly packed with goodness. Of all common fruits and veggies consumed in the U.S., they are said to contain the highest amount of antioxidants.
2. Dark Leafy Greens
Kale and spinach are by far the most popular superfood greens, which explains why they’re a staple in salads and superfood smoothies. What makes dark, leafy greens so super? They’re a great source of vitamin C, fiber, folate, iron and zinc.
Not fond of spinach or kale? Collard greens, swiss chard and turnip greens are all considered great dark, leafy green substitutes.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Don’t just save sweet potatoes for fall. As it turns out, these root vegetables are a powerful superfood that should be enjoyed year-round. One cup of cooked sweet potatoes contains a whopping 769% DV of vitamin A, a known antioxidant. They’re also high in vitamin C, manganese, calcium, fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and more. Sweet potatoes are considered a superfood due to their rich nutritional profile and the bounty of health benefits they promote.
On any list of superfoods, you’ll typically find salmon. Why is salmon so much better for you than other fish? It’s loaded with protein, healthy fats, essential B vitamins, selenium and potassium. It’s also one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids you can find. While salmon is considered a superfood, it’s not something you want to eat every day due to possible heavy metal contamination. Experts recommend limiting salmon to 2-3 servings per week.
Not just good for guacamole and spreading on toast, avocados are considered one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods. They contain 20 vitamins and minerals and are loaded with good-for-you fats. They’re also high in vitamin K, have more potassium than bananas, are full of fiber and have shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Avocados are high in carotenoids and zeaxanthin, both of which are beneficial for eye health.
Almonds are another of nature’s nutrient-rich foods. A one-ounce serving contains an impressive nutritional profile of fiber, protein and healthy fat. Almonds also contain high levels of vitamin E, manganese and magnesium. They’re a great source of antioxidants, which are mostly contained in their skins.
7. Dark Chocolate
You’ve heard that dark chocolate is good for you, but did you know it was a superfood? It’s true! Dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonoids. The superfood benefits of dark chocolate are due to the presence of cacao, which isn’t just loaded with antioxidants but is also high in nutrients like zinc and magnesium.
Cacao contains 40x the antioxidant power of blueberries. It is also the highest plant-based source of iron and contains mood-boosting chemicals like serotonin, tryptophan and phenylethylamine.
Keep in mind that we’re talking about cacao and not traditional cocoa. The cocoa and chocolate many of us are accustomed to is sourced from cacao but has gone through a great deal of processing, which causes it to lose a significant amount of its nutritional profile. Look for dark chocolate that contains at least 60% cacao, and you can feel good that you’re putting something beneficial into your body. Dark chocolate-covered blueberries might be your new favorite superfood snack.
Something you can’t help but notice in many superfoods is the presence of flavonoids, another type of compound celebrated for the ways it can support the body.
What other plant source contains a significant amount of flavonoids? Hemp!
It’s not just the flavonoid content that could make hemp a superfood. Hemp has an outstanding nutritional profile, one that many contend is super enough to make it a superfood.
Is Hemp a Superfood?
Hemp has gained a lot of attention over the last few years, partly because CBD has become one of the hottest wellness products on the market. The wellness benefits of hemp go much further than the cannabinoid that’s taken the world by storm.
Some of the most beneficial parts of the hemp plant are its seeds, where much of hemp’s nutritional value can be found. Here we’ll take a look at the power packed into hemp seeds and answer the question “is hemp a superfood?” once and for all.
It All Starts with the Seeds…
Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are the base of hemp flour and hemp protein powder. Cereal, granola, power bars and the like can all contain the almighty hemp seed.
Hemp seeds contain several nutrients that help maintain human health. Some say hemp seeds are the most nutritionally complete food source on earth. These tiny seeds contain almost a perfect balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. They’re full of amino acids and packed with protein. Some call hemp seeds the “perfect protein” because they contain every one of the nine essential amino acids that can’t be produced by the body.
According to the USDA, 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds (30g) contains the following nutritional profile:
- 166 calories
- 9.47g protein
- 1.2g fiber
- 21mg calcium
- 2.38mg iron
- 210mg magnesium
- 495mg phosphorus
- 360mg potassium
- 2.28mg manganese
- 2.97mg zinc
Hemp seeds are nutritionally similar to chia seeds. The amazing nutritional profile of hemp seeds, combined with the rich CBD content found in hemp’s flowers, gives us overwhelming evidence that hemp is indeed a superfood. Is there any other plant on the planet that holds such varied potential for health and wellness?
Hemp, Hemp Hooray, Hemp Is a Superfood and Here to Stay!
When it comes to incorporating superfoods into your diet, remember to take a well-rounded approach. You’re not going to attain the health benefits associated with superfoods by eating one or two superfoods here and there. By incorporating several different superfoods into your daily diet, you’ll benefit from optimal nutritional benefits.
The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill has changed hemp history forever. Hemp food products are expected to explode onto the food scene. It seems like hemp is a superfood that’s here to stay.
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Joy Smith is Joy Organics Co-founder and visionary. After her own life-changing experience with CBD, Joy started Joy Organics to create a line of sustainable and premium CBD products consumers could trust. Before founding Joy Organics, Joy worked as an itinerant speaker, traveling to over four continents to empower women across the globe.