“The term ‘superfood’ has been tossed around for many years now, and used in a variety of contexts. The general and arguably the most popular definition of superfood that I always read about is that a superfood is deemed as such if it has high concentrations of essential nutrients with proven health benefits,” says, Imogene*, a 27-year-old copy editor who eats dark chocolate because of its high amount of antioxidants.
But Ina Teves, a journalist and lecturer, thinks otherwise: “Superfoods are supposed to protect you from disease, delay aging, and give you energy, but is there really such a thing that could do all these?” She adds that popular literature has a bias for Western food—listing blueberries or kale, but not ampalaya or malunggay, “which is touted locally as a Pinoy superfood although no one really uses the term in connection with these veggies.”
“There is really no such thing as a superfood. As a matter of fact, foods that are regarded as superfoods are ordinary foods you can grow in your backyard or find abundant in the market,” says Jo Ann Salamat, R.N.D., member of the board of directors of the Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines. She observes that superfoods are branded as such because they contain high amounts of certain nutrients and substances that may counteract a disease and be beneficial to our health.
“Superfoods are common foods that we eat every day. They give us nutrients to make our body strong and healthy,” adds Nini Ramos, R.N.D., of the Clinical Nutrition Services of St. Luke's Medical Center, Quezon City and part-time faculty at the Institute of Nursing in St. Joseph's College of Quezon City.
What’s inside these superfoods that help ward off diseases, combat cancer and maintain our overall health and well-being? Salamat and Ramos chalk up the vitamins, minerals, fiber and food substances such as antioxidants, phytochemicals and bioflavonoids.
Salamat and Ramos share the best superfoods—fruits, vegetables, grains and even a superdrink that are natural and readily available: