Superfoods are what we call foods that are nutrient dense. Scroll down to learn all about why these foods are so healthy for your body, how to spot a superfood, and what types of superfoods you can buy at the supermarket!
Remember, a superfood is a name for foods that are nutrient dense. What are nutrients?
Nutrients are substances in food that are so small that you cannot see them! We eat our food to get these substances in our body, so our body can turn them into energy we can use to grow, develop, and function! This means our body needs this energy to be healthy.
There are two different types of nutrients.
- Macronutrients– these are nutrients we need a LOT of in order to get enough energy to function and grow each day. The different macronutrients are called carbohydrates, proteins, fats, water, and fiber.
- Micronutrients– these are chemical substances we need to put into our body in smaller amounts in order to be healthy. The different micronutrients are vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, iron, calcium, and more!
There are MANY different types of macronutrients and micronutrients.
Watch the video below to learn about the main macronutrients and micronutrients that foods of each color of the rainbow have and how these different nutrients help our bodies!
If you have a printer, click the button below to find a coloring page you can print and use while watching. If not, grab a rainbow of crayons and blank paper and draw along.
NUTRIENT DENSE FOODS
Superfoods are foods packed with many nutrients. This means, every bite you take has plenty of nutrients (macro and micro!) How do you know if a food is a superfood? Can you guess whether each of the pictures below is a superfood?
A granola bar is nutrient poor, meaning there are very little nutrients per bite.
An apple is a superfood, with many nutrients per bite. You would have to eat a very large number of granola bars for your body to get the same nutrients it does when you eat one apple!
Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: Often, food that grows naturally, like fruit and vegetables, are superfoods. Foods that come in pre-made packages or are processed are often less nutrient dense.
Eat superfoods because they…
- Give your body the same amount of nutrients for a lower number of calories
- Have fewer bad ingredients that are processed and more naturally occurring ingredients
- Help your body stay healthy instead of sick
WHICH SUPERFOODS CAN YOU BUY AT THE SUPERMARKET?
There are so many fun superfoods to choose from! Which ones can you ask your parents to buy at the supermarket so that you can eat them? Even though they’re super healthy, they’re not super expensive. Let’s look at some examples of superfoods and explore the nutrients in each of them to find out why they are good for you. Click the buttons to find easy recipes you can try at home!
Why are they good for you?
Carrots contain a type of Vitamin A called beta carotene. This vitamin is a micronutrient that helps to make bones stronger and makes your immune system (the part of your body that helps you fight away sickness) work well. Most importantly, vitamin A helps your vision better so you can see better!
Why are they good for you?
Eggs are PACKED with protein, one of the macronutrients that gives your body the energy it needs to be active from day to day. Eggs also have the micronutrient Vitamin D, a critical ingredient to building strong bones and protecting our skin from the sun’s strong heat! While eggs have a lot of Vitamin D, they also have a LOT of other micronutrients. These include vitamins A, E, K, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper- all important for your body. Eggs may be small in size, but they are POWERFUL!
Why is it good for you?
Peanut butter is full of, you guessed it, peanuts! Peanuts are made up of macronutrients, like healthy fats and micronutrients like Vitamin E and a substance called zinc. Healthy fats are needed to keep up your energy levels on a daily basis. Vitamin E is also known as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help protect the cells from illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and cataracts (which can make it hard to see). Zinc also helps your immune system by fighting off bacteria and viruses and helps your body grow and develop!
Why are they good for you?
Oats are a great source of a macronutrient called fiber. Fiber helps make our body full and helps our body digest and process all the foods we’ve eaten! Soluble fiber is the type found in oats and especially helps keep the blood sugar and cholesterol low! Your body needs cholesterol, but too much can be bad for the heart, and blood sugar that’s too high can ultimately be bad for your heart, kidneys, or vision!
Now that you’ve learned about superfoods and where to find the nutrients your body needs, put your knowledge to the test. Click the button below for a fun printout you can use to track all the colors of the rainbow you get from foods you eat this week!
Remember, there are many different superfoods, not just those included on the worksheet. Look for foods that grow naturally and try to eat 2-4 different colors of the rainbow per day!
SUPERFOODS IN ACTION
Watch this video to see how antioxidants can help save an apple from browning and can also help your body!
Meet Graham Scholar Meryl Schaffer!
I’m currently a senior at the University of Michigan pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration with a minor in the environment. I’m originally from northern New Jersey and will be moving to the DC area post graduation to work in management for Capital One. I’m passionate about the intersection between the environment, public health, and business. In particular equitable food access and how the influence of a reputable business can drive solutions. I love spending my free time hiking or on the beach at home.
The Graham Scholars Program supports 50 undergraduate juniors and seniors at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus annually. The co-curricular program complements many academic programs. Scholars work with organizations through summer internships and sustainability projects that provide an opportunity to refine project management, collaboration, and other skills applicable to all career paths. The Scholars Program is open to all schools and colleges and is supported by the University of Michigan Graham Sustainability Institute, see graham.umich.edu/scholars.