Superfoods are foods that are very "nutritionally dense", and have added benefits to our health which come from "antioxidants" and "phytochemicals". We'll go over each of those terms in a bit more detail next.

When a food is "nutritionally dense", it means that the food has high concentrations of vitamins and dietary minerals that we recognise as being good for us. That includes vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K and so on, and dietary minerals such as Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and so on. But these things are found in many different foods already. All foods contain at least some of the vitamins and minerals in varying quantities, so what's so special about superfoods?

The key point is that superfoods contain very high amounts of vitamins and minerals compared to their size. For example, cucumbers are mostly (90% or so) made up of just water, so to benefit from any decent levels of nutrients from a cucumber you'd have to eat a whole one. Or two!

With superfoods you can eat a mouthful and it will deliver a powerful punch of nutrients like a heavyweight boxer, sometimes providing your entire recommended daily allowance (or more) for individual vitamins or minerals all in one go. Now that's super! There aren't many foods that are this rich in useful nutrients, so superfoods stand head and shoulders above the rest in this respect.

OK next up, antioxidants and phytochemicals. These may be new to you, so let's explain them both .

Let's start with antioxidants. These are natural chemicals which stop oxidation inside your body. Oxidation is basically damage caused to cells when they react with oxygen. Damage from oxidation is suggested to be the cause of various illnesses and diseases such as heart disease, cancers, premature ageging amongst others. Antioxidants soak up or stop the oxygen from damaging cells and in theory reduce the risk of any conditions related to that damage. Probably the most well known, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant which we need for various internal processes.

Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds found in plants and animals, which do not yet have recognised status as being an essential vitamin or dietary mineral. As humans we require some vitamins and dietary minerals for the various chemical processes inside our bodies to work properly - that's why they're called "essential" vitamins, but we're only just starting to really understand the real potential health benefits of these new phytochemicals. Much of the reported power of superfoods (such as anti-cancer, anti-heart disease, anti-ageing and so on) is thanks to the different phytochemicals found inside them.

So, not only do superfoods contain high levels of essential vitamins and dietary minerals, they also have all the bonus antioxidants and phytochemicals which come with some incredible potential benefits!

Let's sum everything up: as we're human, we have to have vitamins and minerals to survive. Without these essential nutrients, our bodies stop working and we become ill. Now we're uncovering incredible new nutrients which can help to boost our health and defend us from old age and disease. Superfoods are foods which combine a powerful mix of all this goodness at the same time, and they taste wonderful too - so there's no reason not to include superfoods as part of a healthy diet.

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Click here to check out a list of the world's most powerful superfoods list, all available from your local supermarket.