Superfoods are natural sources of densely-concentrated vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
While “superfood” is a broad category, one commonality across superfoods ranging from kale to blueberries to broccoli is high doses of phytonutrients and a strong potential to defend against oxidative damage and inflammation.
Looking for an easy way to add some superfoods to your diet? We’ve ranked the ten best premium-quality superfood sources available, plus taken a look at the science behind why superfoods are so healthy. Read on for more.
1. Athletic Greens Ultimate Daily
Athletic Greens Ultimate Daily has an eye-popping 75 different ingredients, all of which are naturally sourced.
Some of the highlights include spirulina, beet root powder, green tea extract, and cocoa bean polyphenol extract, but there are literally dozens more ingredients that deliver potent anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants.
Many vitamins and minerals are delivered at doses high enough to completely meet your recommended daily intake, which only adds to the list of reasons that this superfood source is our top pick.
2. Humann BeetElite
Humann BeetElite is a great superfood for those focused on athletic performance.
The non-GMO beetroot powder in this superfood supplement helps increase nitric oxide levels inside your muscles, which directly contributes to superior aerobic endurance.
There are plenty of different sources of beetroot on the market, but Humann BeetElite is the best thanks to its purity reliance on only natural sweeteners like stevia for flavoring.
3. Amazing Grass Green Superfood
Amazing Grass Green Superfood is a powdered superfood that focuses on delivering lots of nutrients from “greens” like wheat grass, chlorella, green tea, and broccoli, to name just a few.
If you find yourself short of these kinds of nutrients in your normal diet, Amazing Grass Green Superfood is a great way to make up the difference.
4. Superfood Vital Reds
Superfood Vital Reds takes a different tack from many other superfood supplements. This supplement focuses explicitly on deep red and purple sources of antioxidants, like cherries, cranberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
These are some of the healthiest nutrients identified in epidemiological studies on the benefits of fruits, so it’s very smart not to neglect these unique sources of antioxidants.
5. Nested Naturals Super Greens
Nested Naturals Super Greens takes a balanced approach to its superfood ingredients.
This powder has greens for antioxidant power, fruits and berries for vitamins, nutrients, and more antioxidant activity, and probiotics plus fiber to improve your gut bacteria and gastrointestinal health. Nested Naturals Super Greens is great if you want to cover all your bases.
6. Texas Superfood Capsules
If mixing powders into liquids, smoothies, or shakes is too much trouble for you, Texas Superfoods is a good alternative.
This supplement packs superfoods into easy to use capsules. The ingredients list isn’t quite as impressive as powder-based superfood supplements, but these capsules still feature mainstays like blueberry, spinach, beetroot, and kale.
7. Garden of Life Perfect Food
Garden of Life Perfect Food is a capsule-based supplement that’s well-suited for complimenting and enhancing your gastrointestinal health.
The focus in this supplement is less on overall antioxidant power, and more on ingredients like barley grass, oat grass, and a ten-ingredient probiotic blend that’s intended to enhance your gut flora and improve digestion of nutrients.
8. Dr. Schulze’s Superfood Plus
Dr. Schulze’s Superfood Plus has a more exotic and eclectic mix of herbal and wild-harvested ingredients.
This superfood uses ingredients like lemon and orange peel, chlorella, seaweed, and non-fermentable yeast, so if you feel like your diet is already pretty solid, and would like to extend your health with less-common ingredients, Dr. Schulze’s Superfood Plus might be a good option, though for just covering the basics, other superfoods do a better job.
9. Terrasoul Superfoods Acai Berry Powder
If there’s one superfood that stands above the rest, it might be acai berries. These berries have incredibly potent antioxidant activity, so if you want to keep things simple while still fighting oxidative damage and inflammation in your body, acai powder is a good way to go.
Terrasoul Superfoods Acai Berry Powder uses organically grown freeze-dried acai berries to produce this deep purple powder that comes in a resealable four-ounce bag, which is perfect for mixing into protein shakes and smoothies.
10. LIVfit Superfood Blend
LIVfit Superfood Blend is a superfood powder that borders on being a full meal replacement. It includes vegan sources of protein like pea powder and chia seeds, as well as superfoods like green tea, beet, spinach, and broccoli.
However, because of its broad focus, its ingredient list is a lot shorter, and it doesn’t have quite the range of superfood ingredients you’ll find in other brands.
Superfood benefits and side effects
Broadly speaking, superfoods tend to be fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains that offer particularly dense concentrations of minerals, vitamins, or antioxidants. However, this definition is sufficiently broad that many different types of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes (to name just a few major food categories) have been christened “superfoods,” with some even vying for the title of the “best” superfood. In truth, no one superfood is “better” in all respects than the others. Rather, different superfoods compliment each other with their variety of different antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
A healthy lifestyle full of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of chronic disease. In other words, what you eat is important not only for maintaining a healthy weight, but also for avoiding diseases like cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Superfoods are those which help you along these lines. They’re good for you on more than just one level and consumed for their disease-preventing properties. Many of these claims are indeed backed by science. Superfood supplements like green superfood drinks act to concentrate the beneficial phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and healthy whole grains.
The top superfood ingredients are all rich sources of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. While it’ not the ultimate source, WebMD does carry some cache when it comes to healthy living and diet. We’ll use their list to explore the most talked-about superfoods and to separate the hyped products from the true superfoods.
Their list of top superfoods (1) includes foods like beans, blueberries, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, green tea, and soy. Several items on their list, including beans, are there because they are rich in fiber.
Fiber is a superfood because it helps you feel full, helping with weight loss. It also maintains healthy blood sugar levels and cholesterol as well (2). Beans and vegetables or fruit are good sources of fiber, which explains a number of items on the WebMD superfoods list.
Soy is on most superfood lists because it’s long been believed to lower cholesterol. However, this may not be true (3), and it may even raise the risk of breast cancer in women (4). The jury is still out on that one. Therefore, some do not consider soy to be a superfood.
Salmon and walnuts are considered superfoods partly because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids (the same stuff found in fish oil). Omega-3s impart a wide variety of health benefits in the human body, not the least of which include possibly helping a little in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (5) like joint tenderness and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease (6).
Antioxidants are key for superfood efficacy. Tea (both black and green) (7) contains incredibly high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants soak up free radicals in the cells, acting like a sponge. Free radicals are associated with cancerous cell growth so it’s important to have as few of them as possible.
Plus, if you substitute tea for sugary sodas, you’ll be cutting calories, lowering your glycemic load, and possibly losing weight as a result. Beyond just substitution, green tea also has direct thermogenic effects, so it’s even better for weight loss.
Many superfood supplements include broccoli for their strong antioxidant effects. There is growing evidence that broccoli may actually fight cancer. It’s the isothiocyanates in broccoli that work to destroy cancer cells and to suppress tumor development, according to work published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry (9). These compounds act as potent free radical scavengers, in addition to their anti-inflammation effects
Supplement forms of superfoods appear to be effective at achieving at least some of the same benefits as whole foods. For people with busy lives, getting ten or so servings of fruits and vegetables every day might not be realistic. Hence the desire to supplement your actual superfood intake with a superfood supplement. Does this work? The scientific evidence suggests that you can get at least some of the benefits from a supplement version.
One study, published in 2009 in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, tested the effects of a superfood supplement on 40 study participants with hypertension (high blood pressure) over the course of a 90 day treatment period (10).
Compared to a control group that received no supplement, the subject who received the superfood supplement experienced a decrease in blood pressure, though not a decrease in weight.
Another study published in 2006 that used a tomato concentrate extract found similar results (11).
This study involved splitting 31 subjects with high blood pressure into a placebo group and an experimental group which received a tomato supplement—tomato being one commonly cited superfood thanks to its lycopene content.
Again, the researchers found that the superfood supplement was effective at reducing the blood pressure of the patients in the experimental group compared to the placebo group.
One of the primary benefits of superfoods is that they are essentially free of side effects.
There are a few minor exceptions in rare cases—a few types of fruits and vegetables, like spinach, are discouraged in people with kidney disease because they tend to form oxalates, which in turn crystallize and turn into kidney stones.
Usually, though, the cause of kidney stones is not a diet that has too many fruits and vegetables, so unless you already have a history of kidney stones, you don’t really have to worry about this potential adverse effect.
While it would be silly to believe you can prevent chronic disease with just one food, or even one type of food, the scientific evidence is clear that diets which are higher in “superfoods” like green leafy vegetables, fruits, berries, and sources of omega 3 fatty acids are profoundly healthier than diets that are deficient in all of these key ingredients.
Superfoods and their supplement versions are easy to fit into just about any diet.
The full range of benefits of a superfood like blueberries or broccoli might be intrinsic to the food itself, but the scientific literature suggests that supplement versions can achieve many, if not all, of the same benefits when it comes to boosting antioxidant levels in the body.