What Makes Something a Superfood?

Fresh collard greens lying on a striped dish towel.

It seems like every week we hear about a new superfood, but what does that really mean? There is no strict definition of what exactly makes a superfood, but it is generally considered to be a food with particularly high nutritional content and health benefits. 1 Because of the non-specific definition, sometimes the title of ‘superfood’ is applied to foods that are not necessarily worthy of it. 2 Here are a few examples of nutrient dense foods that deserve the name.

 

Foods that Live Up to the Title of ‘Superfood

Salmon

Wild salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, as well as calcium, iron, and a number of vitamins, including vitamin A, B12, and D. Research has shown this nutrition-packed fish to improve cardiovascular health, and brain function, and can reduce the risk of glaucoma. 3 When buying salmon, remember to always choose wild caught. Farmed salmon does not have as high an omega-3 fatty acid content, contains pesticide residue and may be injected with dyes to improve color.

More Info on Salmon

Collard Greens

Collard greens are often associated with comfort food and not as much as health food, but they should be – especially when prepared in a healthy manner. Collard greens contain vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, as well as iron, protein, magnesium, and manganese. 4 Collard greens, like other members of the cabbage family, also contain glucosinolates, compounds that boost immunity and reduce inflammation. 5

Flaxseed

Flaxseed (also known as linseed) contains antioxidants, thiamine, manganese, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and is a good source of both protein and fiber. 6 Studies show that flaxseed can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 7 Flaxseed can be ground or added whole to salads, soups, wraps, or baking. Once ground, the oils can become rancid – refrigeration can improve shelf-life.

 

Collard Green Salmon Wraps

This recipe includes both wild salmon and collard greens. For an extra superfood boost, add flaxseed to the wrap filling or serve with a salad sprinkled with flaxseed.

Recipe courtesy of Bastyr University.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. wild-caught salmon filet
  • 1⁄2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2  carrots, shredded
  • 1 orange, zested and then peeled and diced
  • 1  avocado, chopped
  • 4  large collard leaves
  • 1⁄3 cup almond butter
  • 1 tbsp. tamari
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 clove garlic, minced
  • Hot water, to thin
  • Salt, to taste

 

Instructions

Make the Salmon

Preheat oven to 375° F. Rub salmon filet with salt and place in the refrigerator to cure for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and transfer to a baking sheet; top with cherry tomatoes and bake for 12-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once salmon has cooled, gently break apart into flakes.

Prep the Collard Greens

Rinse the collard greens and remove the thick stalk at the bottom. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat and place greens in a strainer and set over the pot of simmering water. Cover strainer with a lid and steam for 2-3 minutes or until color turns a lively green. Remove from the steam basket and pat dry with a towel.

Make the Wrap Filling

Combine carrots, zest of orange, diced orange, and avocado. Set aside.

Make the Dipping Sauce

Combine almond butter, tamari, honey, lemon juice, and garlic. Adjust flavor to taste, adding more tamari for saltiness, honey for sweetness, and lemon juice for tanginess. Thin sauce by slowly whisking in hot water as needed until the desired consistency is reached.

Assemble the Wraps

Fill a steamed collard leaf with flaked salmon and cherry tomatoes and the carrot-orange-avocado medley. Fold the ends of the leaf and roll the wrap tightly around the filling. Drizzle with almond sauce or serve with dipping sauce on the side.

If you are interested in superfoods and promoting health through nutrition, a career in naturopathic medicine may be for you.

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