It seems like everyone is super pumped about superfoods these days, so it can be difficult to determine which have been proven to be effective and which are just a fad. According to the experts at Healthline Media, the term "superfood" was created as a branding tool to sell certain products. However, it's since found its way into mainstream vernacular -- and doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. While this terminology is new, and the labeling varies, the benefits of these 12 superfoods have been well-documented -- sometimes for centuries.
--Cacao. Cacao nibs are filled with antioxidants that can help protect you from illness and heart disease. And if you're not a big fan of bananas or spinach, you can incorporate this into your diet to add some potassium. Cacao is also high in iron, which can be especially helpful if you're vegan or considering cutting down on your red meat consumption. Not in the greatest mood? Cacao nibs are also known for their mood-enhancing benefits; they trigger your brain to release neurotransmitters that help ease anxiety and produce a euphoric, love-infused feeling.
--Turmeric. Nutritionist Dr. Josh Axe says that the health benefits of turmeric are well researched. In fact, turmeric tops ginger, cinnamon, garlic and ginseng as perhaps the most-studied medicinal herb. Turmeric is naturally anti-inflammatory, which helps with joint pain and digestive problems such as bloating. It's also linked to helping prevent psoriasis flare-ups and healing wounds and other skin ailments at a much faster rate.
--Dark leafy greens. Kale, spinach, broccoli, collard greens and bok choy are all high in vitamins A, B, C, E and K. It's widely recommended that people consume these leafy greens multiple times a week to prevent different forms of cancer and protect cells. High in iron and fiber, dark leafy greens assist in regulating energy levels and digestion; they can help eaters maintain healthy weights and colon health.
--Berries. Berries -- specifically blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries -- are high in antioxidants, which can reduce stress and protect collagen from sun damage. There are also some studies that reflect berries' ability to preserve memory and heart health.
--Quinoa. Packed with amino acids, this gluten-free substitute for traditional grains is full of iron, protein and lysine, which can help repair tissues in the body. Quinoa is also high in magnesium, which can alleviate migraines by relaxing blood vessels and balancing sugar levels. Magnesium's benefits also include enriching teeth and gums, building stronger bones and helping regulate body temperatures.
--Chia seeds Mayans and Aztecs have depended on this superfood for centuries because of the high protein and fiber content. Chia seeds slow the absorption of nutrition from your meals. In addition to being high in protein, chia seeds also high in calcium, so for people who are prone to osteoporosis, this is an incredible supplement to add to your diet.
--Kefir (yogurt). Moving on to gut health, kefir is a probiotic that has many antibacterial properties. As this is a milk-derived probiotic, there are now dairy-free alternatives; coconut milk being one of them, however some research shows that these aren't as effective as kefir options made from cow's milk. Kefir can help balance digestion and bowel movements, as well as suppress allergy or asthma symptoms.
Again, this is not an exhaustive list. These are just some of the superfoods that have scientific evidence -- and generational usage --to validate their benefits. You may also want to browse the health foods section of your local bookstore to point you in the right direction. However, before radically changing your diet, consult your doctor and a nutritionist to find out more about which superfoods may be beneficial for you.
After speaking with your doctor, consider adding different combinations of superfoods to your diet to discover what works best with your system while journaling the process along the way.