A fact based explanation of the categories and classes:
Superfoods are far from being created equal. Just because you can grow it (in the desert or a flower-pot at home) doesn’t mean it has the same potency.
The most prominent aspects in creating the right superfoods are (micro) climates in combination with soil, total sun-hours, minimum and maximum temperatures, humidity / rain and intensity of UV radiation. As yields are key for growers, they often try to produce multiple harvests a year. However, harvesting in the wrong season usually means the plant was not exposed to the same conditions as described above and crops may be under-developed or bloated. As being some of the most intense plants, the nutrients they provide have to come from somewhere. The soil is stressed and requires rest. Land rotation every 1 to 2 years is essential.
Take a look at the superfood component chart
Superfoods (broad spectrum)
Are a class of health foods that go beyond what is expected plants to contain in terms of vitamins, amino acids and minerals. Therefore they are nicknamed “Powerhouse” plants / herbs. Technically they are the pinnacle of the health foods and have scientifically proven broad-spectrum benefits in aiding the human body and fighting ailments. Their contents mean you generally do not consume them in the same quantities you would do with normal food. Most superfoods are consumed as tablets or capsules and in sports and diets quite commonly as powders in smoothies and shakes.
Superfoods (medically applied)
Are a special class of health foods that due to their extreme potency and benefits meant that they have become part of medical treatments. They do go beyond what is expected the food to contain, however this group are generally in a more narrow spectrum. Famous examples include: the New Zealand untreated, unprocessed Manuka Honey which is applied (topically) to open wounds in hospitals around the world. Or the prescription of Maca (which is actually a broad spectrum superfood) to patients receiving cancer treatment to accelerate immune recovery and fight off inflammation.
A special category of plants are the “adaptogenic herbs”. We call them simply “Adaptogens” and the list is quite short.
Some new scientists who want to be heard, oppose this category. However the term has been well established and scientifically proven since the middle of the last century. In Traditional Asian Medicine, Adaptogens have been used effectively for the past 5000 years.
What defines an Adaptogen?
An Adaptogen stands out in that it adapts to your body’s needs, storing its active components for a limited time and providing what the body needs, when it needs it.
Visa-versa it adapts your body to be more resilient and stress resistant to your work and living environment.
What is the most powerful Adaptogen?
There are various Adaptogens and they have each their own benefits. But for general health and fitness, Maca stands out as the most powerful of superfoods. It is also one of the most versatile Adaptogen with proven benefits, having been used for over 3000 years in the high Andes Mountains.
Trivia 1: The IOC (Olympics), Tour de France, NHL, NFL, MLB and NBA, and even various space administrations and military permit and promote the use of Maca as a natural (health) booster.
Trivia 2: During the colonial times, Peru paid part of their taxes in the form of Maca to the Spanish Royal house and nobility who desired its health benefits.
Trivia 3: Maca plants were exported by Peru to China in the 1990’s.
As Maca plants are very hard to cultivate from seed, there was initially no commercial value other than providing an additional source of food and nutrients for the local population living in and around the Himalaya mountains. Only in 2010 when science and public interest caught up, was it commercialized once again. Today its commercial base has moved further south to Yunnan. The strive for quality and market competition pushed the growers to find the most ideal micro-climates in the LiJiang mountains and they have succeeded in getting on the same level with Peru’s product. And in some cases, even exceeding it.
Healthy foods (note the “y” at the end) are your daily consumption of nutrients and components aimed at living normally. Common healthy foods include vegetables, fruits, yogurt, nuts and berries.
Health foods are foods which usually have an excessive amount of certain vitamins, minerals and/or amino acids and combinations thereof that come with certain health benefits.
Although they have specific spikes of components, they are not across the board with what they contain and often have a more narrow focus with what they provide to your body. Health foods are common both as supplements as well as daily foods.