Your Guide to Ayurvedic Superfoods
In this article:
- What Are Superfoods?
- The Benefits of Superfoods
- Greens and Superfoods
- The Science of Superfoods
- An Ayurvedic List of Superfoods
Anyone and everyone who has an interest in living a healthy lifestyle has probably come across the phrase “superfood.” Most likely, you already have an idea of what this catchy buzzword means.
A superfood is often described as a nutritious food that offers exceptional health benefits, a plant-based substance that gives a superhuman burst of energy, or a greens supplement that fosters robust immune health.
While all of these descriptions are appropriate, you may be surprised to learn that there’s actually no official or legal definition of “superfood.” In fact, the term was originally coined as a marketing tool, and a good one!1
Considering this phrase has taken the wellness world by storm, it’s worth taking a look at what it means and how herbal superfoods and boosts may greatly support your personal health journey.
While specific definitions of “superfoods” differ, let’s start with the general agreement that they refer to nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, and herbs that confer exceptional health benefits.2
While keeping this in mind, it’s important to remember that many common, everyday functional foods offer exceptional health benefits.
Take this famous Ayurvedic proverb, which illustrates the importance of food as medicine:
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
From an Ayurvedic perspective, the concept of a superfood would most likely not be reserved for a select few plant species, but rather apply to the foods, herbs, and spices that would best serve an individual and their specific health needs at any given time.
With that said, we’ve decided to take the liberty of creating our own definition of superfoods, according to ancient Ayurvedic principles and modern scientific research.
Based on several common characteristics of the foods and herbs that are recognized as superfoods, Banyan has landed on the following definition:
An herbal superfood is rejuvenating, nutrient-dense, and offers health benefits above and beyond other foods.
When we look at many of the foods and herbs that are recognized as superfoods, there are several common characteristics from an Ayurvedic lens. Aside from the specific uses and actions of each, here are a few of their shared benefits:
- Nutrient-Dense: Herbal superfoods tend to be nutrient-rich and provide a high quantity of essential vitamins and minerals. Many also boast high levels of antioxidants, fiber, and essential amino acids.3
- Multiple Benefits: A superfoods supplement typically offers several distinct benefits and supports the body in numerous ways. Often, herbal superfoods have an affinity for more than one organ or system.
- Rejuvenating: In general, superfoods are nourishing and rejuvenating. In Ayurvedic terms, they act as rasayanas, or substances that renew and regenerate the tissues.4 Often, they also help to cultivate healthy ojas, the body’s reserve of vigor and strength.
- Support Immune Function: Superfoods share the trait of helping to build robust immune function. Some directly benefit the immune system, while others indirectly support immunity by cultivating a foundation of overall health.
- Energizing and Vitalizing: Many superfoods have an energizing effect on the body, contributing to a sense of vitality and well-being. Rather than a quick burst of activation, they provide long-lasting, sustainable, and balanced energy.
Along with these impressive shared characteristics, different herbal superfoods have an affinity for different parts of the body, supporting a wide range of more targeted actions and benefits.
While our focus here is mainly on herbal superfoods, particularly those herbs that fall within the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia, superfoods can refer to a wide range of foods and substances. For instance, people commonly use the term superfood to refer to eggs, salmon, olive oil, quinoa, oats, cocoa, and even green tea.5
Think blueberries, broccoli, potatoes, kale, sprouts, and seaweed. Ideally, we should be incorporating these health-promoting foods into our daily meals.
If you need help getting your daily dose of greens, Banyan offers Everyday Greens, a high-quality greens supplement that is easy and convenient to add to your daily routine to ensure you are getting your daily dose of vitamins, minerals, and superfoods.
While there’s no official scientific definition of a superfood, many studies have been conducted to provide scientific evidence of the properties of specific foods and herbs that are commonly given superfood status. Here are a few studies that look at some top Ayurvedic superfoods.
- “The Prebiotic Potential of Nervines and Nootropic Herbs.” Banyan Botanicals. 2022. 6
- “Exploring Ayurvedic Knowledge on Food and Health for Providing Innovative Solutions to Contemporary Healthcare.” PubMed Abstract. 2016. 7
- “Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials.” PubMed Abstract. 2020. 8
- “An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.” PubMed Abstract. 2011. 9
- “Biological, nutritional, and therapeutic significance of Moringa oleifera Lam.” PubMed Abstract. 2019. 10
Ayurveda recognizes that many common everyday foods and herbs carry exceptional beneficial properties. As mentioned above, the right “superfood” for an individual is simply the substance that will most support their health in the present moment.
With that understanding, here are some of our favorite herbal superfoods from Ayurveda’s botanical pharmacopeia.
Amalaki. Also known as amla, or Emblica officinalis, this small sour fruit is well renowned for having many benefits in the body. It supports the immune system, rejuvenates the tissues, and promotes healthy digestion and elimination. Amalaki is famous for having an extremely high quantity of vitamin C, as well as other essential nutrients like iron and calcium.11
Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is one of Ayurveda’s most popular herbal superfoods and adaptogens. It has a rejuvenating quality and adapts to the body’s needs, supporting everything from energy to sound sleep to reproductive health to a calm nervous system.12
Ginger. Ginger is one of the most widely-used spices in the world.13 Its powerful medicinal properties extend throughout the body, supporting healthy digestion, strong immune function, and relief from physical discomfort.14
Moringa. Moringa powder is gaining impressive popularity and renown as a superfood, thanks to its many beneficial properties and essential vitamins and minerals. Not only that, but every part of the plant is edible and protein-rich, making moringa an ideal nutritional source for our growing population.15
Turmeric. Another well-loved herbal superstar, turmeric supports the body in multiple ways. It may be best known for bringing relief to the joints, but also supports the immune system, the heart, the brain, digestion, and more.16
Formulas Packed with Superfoods and Boosts
In addition to these single herbs, Banyan carries a selection of health-promoting superfood blends. The following products provide an excellent source of herbal nutrition to support your body and mind in the cultivation of optimal wellness.
Elevated Adaptogens. This superfoods powder features a carefully selected blend of herbal superfoods—including ashwagandha, moringa, turmeric, and more—to support the entire body and replenish all seven tissue layers, or dhatus. It supports balanced energy levels, promotes a healthy stress response, and builds a foundation of health throughout the body.
Chyavanprash. Inspired by a traditional recipe, this Ayurvedic herbal jam is made with a high concentration of amalaki, alongside honey, ghee, and several other powerful herbs. Chyavanprash is renowned for supporting strong immune function, nourishing ojas, and rejuvenating the body’s tissues.
Everyday Greens. In the midst of our busy modern lives, it can feel like a nearly impossible task to eat a sufficient quantity of green, leafy vegetables each day. For those seeking a vitamin and mineral-rich greens supplement, this is the formula for you. Everyday Greens is made with a variety of greens—including spirulina, barley grass, wheatgrass, and more—to provide your essential daily nutrients.
Immune Health NOW. Featuring turmeric, ginger, amalaki, and more, Immune Health NOW provides support to the respiratory system and bolsters a healthy immune response.
Shilajit. Shilajit is a natural mineral substance made from the decomposition of ancient plant materials. It is harvested from mountainous regions when it exudes from the rocks as a sticky substance. Carrying a high content of health-supporting and rejuvenating properties, Shilajit promotes energy and vitality, nourishes the reproductive system, and supports healthy aging.