Are superfood powders good for you?
- A dummy-to-graduate's guide -
By Moses Rosenberg
May 6 2022
You know you need food, but what is a superfood? Don’t look this up on Wiki unless you want this academically correct answer: “The term is not commonly used by experts ….”
If you really want to know what a superfood is and what it can do for your health, read this article.
- What is a superfood?
- Examples of micronutrients
- Examples of the best everyday superfoods
- Ancestral staple foods that are so super
- Are superfood powders worth it?
What is a superfood?
While there’s no academically accepted definition for “superfood,” legitimate nutrient-density characteristics are used to classify a superfood in the real world.
First, understand that you’ll hear different definitions of “superfood,” even among the alternative community. But this is what makes a superfood in our eyes: the ratio of micronutrients to macronutrients.
To explain this better, the body needs three macronutrients (sources of calories) to function and cannot live without them: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The body uses these nutrients for fuel to survive. The exact amounts and ratios of macronutrients needed differ from person to person and are also the topic of the toughest discussions among dietitians and the medical community. But one thing is clear: We don’t have macronutrient deficiencies in the Western world. If anything, we have over-nourishment.
What’s missing for most of us are micronutrients. There are thousands of compounds that benefit your health, and we can barely get enough of them. The body uses these nutrients to maintain good health and homeostasis (balance).
Produce grown in a commercialized setting commonly lacks micronutrients due to soil depletion. Furthermore, research has confirmed that organic fruits and vegetables contain up to 69% more phytochemicals and antioxidants than their non-organic equivalents do.
- Trace minerals.
- Amino acids—specifically, the ones not commonly found in primary protein foods, e.g., L-theanine.
- Fatty acids—specifically, the ones not commonly found in primary fat sources, e.g., GLA.
- And many more.
Micronutrients also influence the way the body handles macronutrients. For example, the trace mineral chromium and the polyphenols in cinnamon influence how you process carbohydrates and help keep your blood sugar under control.
An ideal diet should always focus on not just macronutrients but also micronutrients. Here’s where superfoods come into the picture. A superfood has fewer calories—something most of you likely aren’t looking to increase—but a higher micronutrient density to improve your health from whatever ails you.
What you’ve learned so far
- Macronutrients are geared more toward survival, and most of us in the Western world have no deficiencies here.
- Micronutrients improve your health, and we have a widespread deficiency in these.
- Superfoods are rich in micronutrients compared to macronutrients. Empty food, or junk food, contains only macronutrients.
Examples of micronutrients
When you think about micronutrients, vitamins and minerals likely come to mind first. But there are also trace minerals, enzymes, and the exciting phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals not only give plants their vibrant color and taste but also form the core of the many benefits ascribed to eating fruits and vegetables.
There are hundreds of phytochemicals and micronutrients in plant foods. Many of these substances have been extensively studied to determine their effect on human health. And there are likely thousands more yet to be discovered.
There are phytochemicals and micronutrients unique to each plant food. For example, beta-carotene is found in abundance in carrots; lycopene, in tomatoes; polyphenols, in berries; and glucosinolates, in cruciferous vegetables.
Scientists have yet to figure out the best classification scheme for all the phytochemicals found in foods, as there are so many of them—some of which can fall into more than one category. The infographic below shows the best-known phytochemicals to humankind.
The rainbow consists of all colored fruits and vegetables throughout the entire spectrum. Regardless of their background, health experts agree that incorporating the rainbow into your diet keeps you ahead of illnesses.
What are phytochemicals?
- Phytochemicals not only give plants their vibrant color and taste but also form the core of the many benefits ascribed to eating fruits and vegetables.
- There are phytochemicals and micronutrients unique to each plant food. This is why you need to eat the rainbow.
Examples of the best everyday superfoods
In a sense, every unprocessed natural food grown under ideal conditions is a superfood, even if it does contain a significant amount of calories, given that it contains 100s of micronutrients and phytochemicals.
Let’s take, for example, one medium apple; the “nutrition facts” are as follows:
- Calories: 95
- Fat: 0.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 25 g
- Fiber: 4.4 g
- Sugar: 19 g
- Protein: 0.5 g
- Potassium: 195 mg
- Vitamin C: 8.4 mg
But if you look at the real profile of an apple, more than 300 compounds have been identified, many of which are known to have powerful health benefits. These compounds include flavonoids, polyphenols, and much more. An organic apple has 69% more of those goodies than a standard apple does! 
And this applies to all fruits, veggies, berries, spices, and other whole plant foods found at your farmers market or in the produce aisle—the aisle where you want to spend most of your shopping time.
With that being said, some not-so-common plant foods really stand out when it comes to micronutrients. Let’s take spirulina, for example.
The health benefits of spirulina are enormous. If you ever were to try spirulina and feel the energy and vibrancy it can give your body, you’d know in your gut that superfoods do exist.
Now, you might read that spirulina contains more protein per gram than any other food, but this isn’t spirulina’s primary benefit, as you’re not going to eat 20 grams of it. The main power of spirulina lies in its micronutrient content. Even a small amount of spirulina powder delivers lots of micronutrients not found in any other plant food.
When grown in clean, ideal conditions with lots of sunshine, spirulina is believed to have every nutrient needed by mankind to survive. Below is a quick glimpse of the key micronutrients in spirulina. Just google each of these nutrients to see what they can do for you in tiny amounts, and you’ll see what a real superfood is!
Here's a quick glimpse into the nutritional values of spirulina.
Nutrients: 18 amino acids, 6 essential fatty acids, 14 vitamins, 11 essential minerals
Micronutrients: Trace minerals, enzymes, polysaccharides, muco-polysaccharides, sulfolipids, calcium spirulan, phycobiliproteins
Phytochemicals: Chlorophylls (chlorophyll A and B), carotenoids (beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, and more), phycocyanins (C-phycocyanin and allophycocyanin), xanthophylls (echinenone, myxoxanthophyll, canthaxanthin, diatoxanthin, 3'-hydroxyechinenone), and hundreds more.
Just google each of those and see the powers of the color of nature.
What you’ve learned so far
- All unprocessed plant foods can be considered superfoods as they contain hundreds of micronutrients.
- An example of a rare food that stands out as a real superfood is spirulina. It’s believed to have every nutrient needed by mankind to survive, but more importantly, it contains hundreds of powerful phytochemicals.
Ancestral staple foods that are so super
It’s a well-known fact that people of the Mediterranean and Asian regions live healthier and longer. We also know that their original ancestral diet is the main contributor to their state of health.
Ancient cultures from around the world have relied on unique staple foods and methods of preservation and preparation. In ancient times, people would eat what they had naturally available in abundance in their region; this had a good effect on their health. The Mediterranean people would use olive oil and wine; the Japanese would drink green tea; the people of India used spices; and so on.
The high quality of such diets isn’t about calories or macronutrients. Rather, it’s about micronutrient intake. These staple foods have something in common: One of their main components is unique health-promoting and anti-aging phytochemicals, such as resveratrol from wine in the Mediterranean and EGCG from green tea in Asia.
Sadly, the standard American diet (SAD) is completely stripped of these antioxidants. Still, today, we’re lucky to be able to get our hands on all of these foods pretty much anywhere in the world.
- The secret of long-living cultures is partly due to the unique phytochemicals they consume on a daily basis.
- The standard American diet is stripped of phytochemicals, but luckily, simple and nutritious foods are accessible to almost everyone.
Are superfood powders worth it?
In an age when life-enhancing superfoods are needed most, people are still hardly getting a minimal number of fruits and vegetables—let alone eating a variety of them. Although our modern, hurried lifestyle is probably the biggest factor, many other factors play a role.
First, research has confirmed that organic fruits and vegetables contain up to 69% more phytochemicals and antioxidants than their non-organic equivalents do. Second, some diet approaches restrict the consumption of fruits and sometimes vegetables in order to lower carbohydrate intake. No synthetic multivitamin pill can make up for this loss.
Are fresh fruits and veggies a better option than vitamins are? Absolutely! But suppose you don’t or won’t eat five to nine servings of fruits and veggies. In that case, superfood powders are a great alternative.
If you’re looking to boost your health against a specific ailment, you might want to add even more servings of produce to your diet. A high-quality superfood powder can easily accomplish this.
The Rainbow Trio was designed to deliver a variety of phytochemicals in three yummy, easy-to-use drinks. The obvious benefits are fewer cravings and greater energy and vibrancy. If you have a specific, nagging health issue, we can customize the program for you. Feel free to reach out and start a conversation.
Interested in getting started on the Rainbow Trio? We’re rewarding you for reading this article with a discount offer. Use the code SUPERFOOD at checkout for 35% off your first set of the Rainbow Trio.
Subscribe to our future posts to learn more about individual superfoods and their health benefits. You’ll also get the inside scoop on superfoods: the good, the bad, the ugly … and the super, I should say.
 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. (2019). FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov
 Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center. Corvallis. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic