What Puts The ‘Super’ in Superfoods?

You may have heard of micro and macronutrients, but what exactly are mesonutrients? These chemical compounds are what give many superfoods their edge. They are the ingredient that puts the ‘super’ into superfoods like turmeric, blueberries and green tea. It’s the active compounds within these superfoods i.e. mesonutrients that really give them their, well, superpowers.


With help from AXA PPP healthcare’s Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr) Georgina Camfield, we’re diving into this little-known aspect of nutrition to explore more…

What exactly are mesonutrients?

We’ve known for some time that nutrients found in certain foods and drinks – like turmeric, blueberries and green tea – have earned them the title of ‘superfoods’, a term first coined by health food marketers that’s since made its way into our everyday vocab. Rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats and fibre, superfoods are nutritional powerhouses. They’re not micronutrients (like vitamins and minerals) and they’re not macronutrients (like carbohydrates or protein) – instead they sit somewhere in between. In fact, ‘meso’ comes from the Greek word for ‘middle’.


1. Turmeric


Turmeric is having a real moment. It’s hard to miss the recent turmeric craze, with turmeric lattes, turmeric sprays, and turmeric shots popping up all over the place. But it’s the active compound, curcumin, that actually does all the hard work. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory, which is why turmeric is so often used to ease arthritis, improve digestive problems and to boost metabolism.

2. Green Tea


It’s quite a mouthful, but ‘epigallocatechin gallate’, or EGCG, is the mesonutrient that has earned green tea its reputation as a healthy alternative to regular brews. As an antioxidant it packs a real punch, and it’s also said to support metabolism. EGCG is also found in matcha – a powdered form of green tea that’s often added to hot milk to create a matcha latte.

3. Blueberries (and other red and purple fruits)


Blueberries are one of the most talked about superfoods, and now we know that a group of active compounds known as anthocyanins are the reason why. They’re powerful antioxidants, and, according to studies, they’re thought to support heart health, help regulate blood sugar levels and could even prevent insulin resistance. Anthocyanins are actually found in loads of purple and red fruits, including blackcurrants, blackberries, cherries, pomegranates, and cranberries, so if blueberries aren’t your thing you can still benefit from including other berries in your diet.

4. Tomatoes (plus some citrus and tropical fruits)


The humble tomato might not seem that special, but they actually contain the mesonutrient lycopene, a mighty antioxidant that’s thought to promote better heart health, support a healthier balance of cholesterol and help prevent high blood pressure. Lycopene is also found in a range of fruits, including watermelon, papaya, blood oranges, apricots, pink grapefruit, and guava.


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