Superfoods don’t come cheap, nor are they an instant fix. They are true gifts from nature, and if you choose right, patience and wisdom will reward you. But, with so many superfood fads coming and going, how do you know which to go with?
We’ve chosen just 5 of the best superfoods that support the core of your health and well being. Superfoods that improve your metabolism, boost your nutrition, repair your gut health, scavenge free radicals, and strengthen your immunity.
Table of Contents
What are Superfoods?
As the name would imply, superfoods have something more that not-so-super foods don’t. So what makes them so special, if at all? Essentially, a superfood is any single foodstuff that is particularly rich, or dense, in one or more nutrients or compounds. Usually, they are backed up by research proving their above average beneficial properties.
In the EU, foods cannot display ‘superfood’ on their label, nor can the manufacturer promote them as such. In Japan and the US, there are no regulations concerning ‘superfooding’.
Who Decides the Super Rankings?
Superfoods come in all varieties from fresh to dried produce and processed powders, to liquids, purees, and oils. Some superfoods are popular staples like umeboshi or natto. Others are unsuspecting heroes, but quite often exotic foreigners swoop the rankings.
Popular trends and influencers in media, often geared on by key research studies, may propel a humble food into the super limelight. Popular blogs, websites, and google trends offer anything from the best 10 to the best 50 or more superfoods. A popular local popular search term is スーパーフード ランキング .
What Are the Best Superfoods?
Recently, the superfood phenomena has become a lot more grounded or centered on two key cornerstones of good health and well being. One is the relationship between a healthy gut and overall well being, and consequently, foods that can also promote healthy immunity.
As such, the best superfoods are fermented foods, foods rich in fiber, and foods with an abundance of antioxidants and beneficial enzymes.
Kombucha, and fermented teas like pu’er, are often on people’s lists. Whole grains, ancient grains, and low glycemic pulses trend too. Other foods that always make the list are various types of seeds, berries, roots, and especially colorful exotic fruits.
The Best Superfoods Worth Trying in Japan
White Tea －百茶
Most people are familiar with the much touted benefits for green tea, specifically for cardiovascular health, blood pressure, mental cognition, and diabetes management. White tea, however, is less familiar.
White tea consists of tea plant buds picked before they open and when the buds still have hairy white filaments. It’s then dried quickly with very low oxidation. White tea has the lowest caffeine levels of all teas with a mild, fruity like flavor which is much more appetizing than green tea.
Studies into white tea show that it can actively kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi the body including pathogens that cause pneumonia. Polyphenols, abundant in in white tea, also lower cholesterol and blood pressure. This tea is an additional rich source of fluoride and catechins for improved oral hygiene. Best of all, white tea is most effective in stress and fatigue reduction.
Best White Tea in Japan
To reap the full benefit of this ‘super tea’ we made sure to pick a top quality product. Yan Hou is an international brand shipping to over 30 countries. It carries both FDA and global SGS certification for quality and health safety standards.
They always box and package the tea very carefully, and people are impressed with the product care. It ships from abroad so may take a few extra days or up to a week to arrive. There are cheaper brands, but not with the same quality and assurance. To waylay some cost, it might be a good idea to purchase a couple or more at a time.
The tea comes as silver colored leaf and not in a tea bag. Steep in water between 70ºC to 85 ºC for 3 to 5 minutes before drinking. You can brew longer for a stronger taste, or drink it cold.
Fermented White Papaya – 青パパイヤ 発酵食品
White papaya isn’t any different from the ripened yellow or orange papaya. Before the fruit ripens, the juice is extracted and fermentation is used to harvest the formidable papain enzyme.
This fermented papaya powder is fairly well studied. It’s a powerful free radical scavenger and extremely rich in antioxidant properties.
It has shown positive results in reducing oxidative damage in Alzheimers, and may assist in Cancer recovery and inflammation related ailments. It’s also favored for its anti aging potential, skin health, digestive support for constipation, and combats stress and chronic fatigue.
Best Fermented White Papaya in Japan
Noguchi Medical Research branded products are quite well known. The raw fruit for this high quality papaya enzyme (酵素) product is from either Okinawa or Kyushu. The papaya are GMO free, chemical fertilizer free, and the final product has no added preservatives or colorants.
The papaya extract is fermented with yeast and grape sugar dextrose, and combined with resveratrol extract from red grapes under low temperatures. The end product is independently tested and certified by the JFRL.
Papaya is often called the kind of fruits for its abundance of healthy enzymes. This combination with resveratrol produces 7.5 times more antioxidant polyphenols than red wine, twice the amount of lycopene (red antioxidant pigment) found in tomatoes, and 100 times more SOD (superoxide dismutase) than black garlic.
The recommended dosage is 1 to 2 sticks per adult per day, or the same dosage when needed. One stick is good for elementary aged children, and half for kids. You should suck out the contents a little at a time and mix well with saliva before swallowing.
There are 30 sticks per box. The taste is very pleasant, and most people report feelings of improved wellness, especially stress release, headache relief, and much better sleeping patterns.
Quinoa – キヌア
If there’s one thing you should add to your food menu, it’s definitely quinoa. It’s a pseudo whole grain and the seeds are eaten unprocessed. Quinoa was the sacred food of the Inca Empire, and is extremely easy to cook and incorporate into any diet.
It has a formidable nutritional profile, and 1 cup contains 8g of protein with all essential amino acids in sufficient amounts. One cup also contains a quarter to a third RDA of magnesium, zinc, folate, iron, zinc as well as over 10% RDA for vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
Additionally, Quinoa is gluten free with a low glycemic index of only 53. The antioxidant content of quercetin is even higher than that of cranberries. Although its also high in fiber, the fiber is mostly insoluble, so therefore doesn’t contain the additional nutrition benefits of soluble fiber.
Best Organic Quinoa in Japan
There’s some fancy quinoa out there that costs a lot of money. In all likelihood, this is a repackage brand of bulk imported quinoa. The assurances are the quinoa is inspected and packaged in Japan. It’s also certified by JAS Ecocert for organic authenticity and Japanese market health standards. The origin is Peru.
There are a number of similar products, but not all of them carry certification. The price is about as reasonable as it gets, and you shouldn’t have to pay more the ￥2 per gram.
Coconut MTC Oil – MCTオイル ココナッツ
MTC stands for medium-chain triglyceride which simply means that this oil has fewer carbon chain links. As a result, it’s processed faster and easier than other types of healthy oils, and interacts with the body in a different way. MTC oil is a concentrate derived from usually coconut or palm oils.
As an essential fat and oil, MTC is fairly well researched. It contains up to 10% less calories than long-chain avocado, olive, and nut oils. Furthermore, it has a stronger satiating effect while also improving general metabolism.
MTC oil taken in the morning, or before a workout, can provide a quick energy boost because it breaks down quickly. It can also dull mid morning hunger pangs. Additional research shows that MTC oil improves the intestinal ecosystem. There are many other promising benefits still being researched in relationship to cognitive diseases such as Alzheimers.
Best Coconut MTC Oil in Japan
Compared to other MTC oils, this Coco brand is fairly reasonably priced. You can also buy the oil in smaller 175 g sizes and get cheaper deals if you buy a set of two or three.
The coconuts are grown in Singapore, and the oil is processed and package there in a JAS certified facility. There is no added glycerol to dilute the product, and no chemical processing. For the health gurus, this oil contains 57.2% of C8, 42.5% of C10, and 0.3％ of C12.
What people love the most is how odorless and tasteless this oil is. It therefore blends with almost anything – especially coffee, yogurt, and as a light salad dressing. Some people report better concentration, it helps with the chronically overweight, but the number one reported result was better morning movements.
Sea Berry Juice – シーベリー [サジー] ジュース
These bright orange berries come from a hardy shrub called the sea-buckthorn. They are native to cold temperate regions from the Baltic through to Germany, into the Himalayas and also China. China, followed by Mongolia, are the biggest mass produces of sea berries.
They are a rich source of vitamins A, B1, B12, C, E, K, flavonoids, folic acid, and plant phytosterols that help in cholesterol reduction. Traditionally, they have long been used in Ayurveda and Chinese herbal medicine.
Sea-berry oil is commonly used for many ailments, and the sea berry is the only fruit that contains all of the healthy omega oils. The abundance of oil in these berries allows them to survive temperatures of ‒40℃. Oil derivatives include α-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acids), linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acids), and oleic acid (omega-9 fatty acids).
Best Sea Berry Juice in Japan
Guamaral is the white deer of Mongolian legend. The Guamaral sea berry company is a cooperative venture with Mongolia. Only berries certified by the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce to be pesticide free are used in this juice.
The juice is processed under strict supervision and shipped in small quantities to Japan. Research, development , and production of their oil, proteins, and cosmetics are done in Sapporo.
The plain juice has a somewhat sour and acidic taste. Although a unique taste, most people find it quite okay to drink straight, while others prefer to mix it with carrot or some other juice. The product mixed with yuzu is a lot more tastier.
The recommended serving is 50 to 100 ml for one day, so the standard 720 ml bottle can easy last a week. Many people feel positively energetic even after drinking for the first time. Others reportedly improved conditions with difficult menstruation as well ass prostate health.