Ranking the best superfoods of 2020

Ranking the best superfoods of 2020

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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.

Rankings

1. Athletic Greens Ultimate Daily

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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. Battle Ready Fuel Super Greens

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BRF Super Greens is an awesome superfood option for those looking to boost athletic performance on a daily basis.

This formula is made from top-quality greens, giving you a ton of nutritional value with zero prep-time or extra-expensive food shopping.

There are over a dozen different ingredients included in it, including Apple Fiber Powder, Barley Grass Juice Powder, Beetroot Powder, etc.

Everything you need to get your daily dose of greens and a TON of nutritional value!

3. Humann BeetElite

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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.

4. Amazing Grass Green Superfood

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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.

5. Superfood Vital Reds

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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.

6. Nested Naturals Super Greens

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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.

7. Texas Superfood Capsules

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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.

8. Garden of Life Perfect Food

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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.

9. Dr. Schulze’s Superfood Plus

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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.

10. Terrasoul Superfoods Acai Berry Powder

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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.

11. LIVfit Superfood Blend

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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.

Who Should buy Superfoods?

Superfoods are great for everyone looking to bolster their health and support a health body. They are especially great for persons looking to improve immunity and who have vitamin or mineral deficiencies – either from their diet or a particular condition.

Pregnant women should not consume superfoods unless otherwise directed by a healthcare professional. Superfoods with blue-green algae should not be consumed due to potential contamination issues.

How We Ranked

Terrasoul superfoods made our list for providing a high-quality organic açai berry powder, which is proven to fight oxidative stress. However, due to its single ingredient, this product was ranked near the bottom. Dr. Schulze’s superfood product made the list for providing a superfood that included unique ingredients such as orange peel and non-fermentable yeast. However, it’s lack of vitamins and minerals that people generally are deficient in, lead it to be ranked near the bottom. 

Nested Naturals Super Greens provides a balanced, antioxidant-rich powder that helps cover your bases. It’s inclusion of prebiotic fiber to promote gut health gave it a better ranking. Superfood Vital Reds provided some of the healthiest antioxidant-rich superfoods according to studies, including cherries, raspberries, and cranberries. Most people don’t consume enough of these red superfoods, which is why it ranked in our top 5. 

Humann BeetElite provides a non-GMO beetroot powder that helps to enhance nitric oxide levels, improving athletic performance. It only uses natural sweetness and flavoring, which is why it earned a ranking near the top. BRF Super Greens is made of top superfoods like barley grass and beetroot powder to enhance athletic performance. It’s lack of fillers and nutrient-dense superfoods is why it made #2 of our list. 

Athletic Greens Ultimate Daily is our top pick and provides a superfood powder with 75 different ingredients, including spirulina, beetroot powder, and cocoa bean polyphenol extract. It contains massive doses of vitamins and minerals, making it the ultimate nutritional insurance policy. It includes no artificial sweeteners or fillers and tastes delicious. 

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.

Benefits

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.

Side effects

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.

FAQ

What are some superfoods? Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods that often provide several benefits. Some superfoods include flaxseed, garlic, cocoa, blueberries, spirulina, strawberries, and goji berries (12).

What are the best superfoods for weight loss? The best superfoods for weight loss are rich in both antioxidants and fiber. Antioxidants help rid the body of harmful toxins and prevent the development of diseases. Fiber helps food to move more consistently through the digestive tract and prevent conditions like constipation. When combined, antioxidants and fiber can help regulate your digestive system and improve your overall health. Superfoods that are rich in these components are green tea, flaxseed, leafy greens, and avocado.

Are superfoods real? The term “superfood” is nothing other than an advertising strategy to boost sales and build hype around healthy products. While superfoods tend to be nutrient-dense and help with disease, no food in itself is super-effective. 

Is cacao a superfood? Cacao is considered a superfood for its high density of flavanoids, which mimic antioxidants. 

Can special populations consume raw cacao? Special populations like children and pregnant women should be cautious before consuming cacao as it can cause certain side effects. In children, it may cause hyperactivity. Raw cacao consumed during pregnancy causes blood restrictions to the fetus, possibly damaging it. This can also cause birth defects, so it’s important to speak to an OBGYN before taking any cacao superfood supplements. 

What are the unique characteristics of superfoods? Superfoods tend to have two main characteristics: good nutrient density and research proving its ability to fight and prevent disease. Popular superfoods are also usually low-calorie, helping to prevent weight gain and obesity. Most superfoods also include antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits for the body. Including more superfoods in your diet can help prevent the development of diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

What are the best superfoods for supporting overall health? The best superfoods to support your health are the ones that provide nutrients that are both powerful, but also less common. For example, spinach, raspberries, and almond milk can all be labeled as superfoods since they are all low in calories, nutrient-dense, and can fight off major diseases. However, they tend to contain common nutrients that humans aren’t deficient in. Vitamins like vitamins K are found in other less popular superfoods like spirulina – which would be more benefical to your diet. 

Is spirulina considered a superfood? Yes, spirulina is considered a superfood because of its nutrient density. It contains a high amount of various nutrients, including calcium, iron, magnesium, niacin, and essential amino acids. It is also 60% protein by weight, making it one of the most protein-dense superfoods available. 

Are superfood powders as good for you as fresh superfoods? Superfood powders are essentially freeze-dried superfoods that have been ground up. Each powder contains several ingredients, including vegetables, seaweed, and other plants. Superfood powders tend to be easier to consume and very nutrient-dense for their serving size. Unfortunately, it’s unknown it the nutrients are still absorbable in their freeze-dried form and if the body can even process it well. Your best bet would be to consume fresh superfoods and consider taking the powder as a bonus. 

What are superfoods? Superfoods are types of foods that include high levels of nutrients that may prevent the development or spread of certain chronic diseases. However, superfoods don’t really exist and are just a way to market healthy foods to appeal to new consumers. 

The term “superfoods” is used purely to increase sales of healthy products by claiming these products are essentially magic cures for improving health and reducing the risk of illness. It’s impossible to deny that superfoods are healthy for you, but there is actually no such thing as a superfood.

Can superfoods cure cancer? Superfoods can’t cure cancer but may help prevent it due to the high density of antioxidants they contain. Antioxidants are capable of slowing down cell damage and ridding the body of harmful toxins, which can help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases. The best superfoods that contain high levels of antioxidants include most types of berries, green leafy vegetables, and beans. 

Are there any protein-rich superfoods? Superfoods like nuts and beans tend to have a good amount of protein per serving. On average, nuts contain anywhere from 3 grams to 8 grams of protein per serving, while beans contain as much as 15 grams of protein per serving. There are also protein superfood powders available on the market. Protein superfood powders combine the major nutritional benefits of the average superfood with protein powder, providing an excellent source of protein and nutrients.

Are acai berries considered a superfood? Acai berries are considered a superfood for its nutrient density, immune-boosting powers, disease prevention, and brain enhancement. It has a long and rich history, being used for hundreds of years by indigenous populatons to cure many diseases and promote general health. It’s mainly grown in the Amazon rainforest, but also appears in other parts of South America.

What are the cheapest superfoods? The cheapest superfoods are foods that aren’t directly labeled as superfoods by manufacturers, but still include remarkable levels of nutrients and antioxidants. This includes foods like eggs, banana’s, and peanut butter. Superfood specific foods that are less expensive include quinoa, nuts, and in-season berries.

Are both turmeric and curcumin the same superfood? Curcumin is the molecule present in raw turmeric and is the main beneficial component that provides all the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. 

What are some superfoods you can easily add to your meals? The easiest way to add superfoods to your diet would be by consuming superfood powders. Products like flaxseed, green leafy vegetables, and quinoa are relatively easy to add to a variety of different meals to enhance the flavor and nutrition content. 

Can you live off of superfood powders? Though superfood powders include high levels of certain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other healthy ingredients, there aren’t enough nutrients and calories to help you sustain a healthy body. 

Your body requires a certain amount of calories, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals to function optimally. Furthermore, your digestive system requires solid food to continue working properly. 

If you’re looking to include superfood powders into your diet, it can greatly improve the status of your health. But, the last thing you should do is attempt to replace your entire diet with superfood powders. 

Why is everyone obsessed with superfoods? Combined with a popular television appearance on Doctor Oz, and the general lifestyle shift to more healthy, superfoods have become a fad everyone is trying to capitalize on. 

Why are superfoods important? Superfoods are important because they help support and improve overall health. They’re incredibly healthy because they’re all-natural, contain high levels of the desired nutrients, and can even help fight diseases naturally. Superfoods are one of the best ways to consume your nutrients without a ton of calories or sodium.

What is the best superfood? One of the most notable superfoods is dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and collard greens. These foods aren’t only nutrient-dense, but also help fight off some chronic diseases. They also provide a good amount of fiber to keep you regular. 

What is ORAC, and is it important in superfoods? ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and demonstrates how well a nutrient can fight oxidative stress. Unfortunately, it lacks real-world data since testing it’s often studied in a controlled, laboratory setting (13). 

Is turmeric a superfood? Yes, turmeric is considered a superfood for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Turmeric is a native Asian herb that’s been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy. It has been shown to help non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), thwart the development of atherosclerosis, improve blood flow, and improve sleep by reducing stress. Turmeric can also enhance your immune system to fight off colds and disease.

Does Bioperine enhance the absorption of superfoods? Bioperine is a patented black pepper extract that helps improve the bioavailability of certain superfoods. It’s been shown to increase absorption by up to 2000% in some cases. Bioperine and piperine are the same thing and are used interchangeably on supplement labels. 

Are cacao and cocoa the same superfood? No, cacao and cocoa are not the same thign – with only one of them being a superfood. Cocoa powder is roasted raw cacao powder. Raw cacao is cold-pressed, allowing for all the beneficial enzymes and nutrients to stay intact, which is what makes it a superfood.

Are superfoods safe for pets? In general, most superfoods are safe to consume for pets. However, some superfoods like raw cacao are dangerous since they contain ingredients like theobromine, which can’t be metabolized by their bodies. This can lead to a toxic build up in their bodies and be fatal. Natural fruit superfoods like blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are considered safe for pets.

Can superfood supplements improve brain function? Yes, certain superfood supplements, like blueberry, may improve brain function by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines. Blueberries may also lower the risk of suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and improve cognitive function.

Can superfoods delay aging? Superfoods may be able to delay again and keep you young by combatting oxidative stress in the body. Its anti-inflammatory effects may also help prevent wrinkles.

Can superfoods help detox the liver? Superfoods contain a lot of beneficial ingredients that can help support liver function and help to detox the liver. This is especially beneficial for people with NAFLD or persons who consume a lot of alcohol and other liver toxic ingredients.

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Recap

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.

For Body Nutrition’s #1 superfood recommendation, click here.

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