Unveiling the Magic of “Superfoods”


By, Erik Bastillo, MS, RD, FISSN, CISSN, CSC, CF-L2, CPT – O2X Nutrition Specialist


In the realm of nutrition and wellness, the term “superfood” has gained considerable popularity throughout the years. While it is a marketing buzzword, the essence behind the use of the catchy term lies in the nutritional richness these foods offer. “Superfoods” are not a panacea, but they do pack a punch when it comes to providing a plethora of essential nutrients beneficial for human health.


Blueberries– A Berry Bursting with Benefits

One stellar example of a “superfood” is the humble blueberry. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins C, and fiber, these little berries contribute to improved heart health, enhanced cognitive function, and a strengthened immune system. The rich pigments that give blueberries their vibrant color also contain anthocyanins, which have been linked to reducing inflammation and potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases. 


Quinoa– The Ancient Grain for Modern Health

Quinoa, often hailed as an ancient grain, is a food that stands out for its impressive nutrient profile. Loaded with protein, fiber, and essential minerals like iron and magnesium, quinoa is a complete protein source, making it an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans. Its benefits include supporting muscle development, aiding digestion, and regulating blood sugar levels. The versatility of quinoa makes it an easy addition to various dishes, offering a wholesome boost to your diet. 


Red Meat– The Largely Misunderstood Nutrient Dense Powerhouse

Red meat, often a subject of controversy, has been proven to offer numerous health benefits through recent research. The macronutrient profile of red meat underscores its significance as a high-quality protein source, delivering all essential amino acids crucial for the body’s growth, maintenance, and repair, with an average content of 20–24 g per 100 g (~3.5 ounces), establishing it as a substantial protein reservoir. While recognizing variations in fat content, the type of fat in red meat is pivotal, as red meat proves rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and also has some saturated fatty acids (SFA), both important for health, as long as we do not overconsume them, like with any other nutrient (continuous overconsumption is where the danger can lie in any food). Ongoing studies are dedicated to enhancing the fatty acid profile of red meat, with a focus on promoting cardiovascular health. Furthermore, red meat emerges as a source of bioavailable micronutrients essential for overall health, featuring efficiently absorbed heme-iron, contributing significantly to adult iron intake (21%). Addressing micronutrient deficiencies, red meat becomes a valuable dietary component, noteworthy for its contribution to magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc intake. It is particularly beneficial for population groups with identified deficiencies, as confirmed by recent dietary surveys that highlight the significant role of meat and meat products in daily essential micronutrient intake, reinforcing the importance of red meat in maintaining balanced nutrition. 


Kale– Eat those Leafy Greens

Some (not all) may refer to kale as the king of leafy greens, and for good reason. This cruciferous vegetable is a nutritional powerhouse, providing ample amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, along with minerals like calcium and potassium. Kale’s high fiber content supports digestive health, while its antioxidant properties contribute to a strong immune system. Incorporating kale into your diet can help promote bone health, reduce inflammation, and support overall well-being. 


Chia Seeds– Tiny Seeds, Massive Benefits

Despite their small size, chia seeds are filled with nutrients and that makes them a “superfood” worth considering. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids (not as much as salmon, but a decent option), fiber, and protein, chia seeds contribute to heart health, aid in weight management, and provide sustained energy. These tiny seeds also absorb liquid and can be used to create a gel-like substance, making them a versatile ingredient in smoothies, yogurt, or as a topping for salads. They are also helpful in managing blood pressure, cholesterol, and constipation.


Salmon– A Fatty Fish for a Healthy Heart

Salmon, a fish higher in fat content, is renowned for its high omega-3 fatty acid content, particularly EPA and DHA. These fatty acids are crucial for heart health, reducing inflammation, and supporting brain function. Additionally, salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein and essential vitamins like B12 and D (although vitamin D is not truly essential [which in the nutrition world means it must be consumed in the diet] because we can produce it from skin being exposed to sunlight). Including salmon in your diet can contribute to improved cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and performance. Omega 3s are also important for anyone at risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI) as well as the brain development of a fetus and baby.


Incorporating these nutrient-dense “superfoods” into your daily/almost daily (think 80/20 rule) diet can be a simple yet powerful way to enhance recovery from training and overall health. Whether you choose to sprinkle chia seeds on your morning yogurt, enjoy a kale salad with red meat for lunch, or savor a serving of blueberries as an afternoon snack, the benefits are abundant. By making mindful choices and incorporating these foods, you not only nourish your body with essential nutrients, but also embark on a journey towards a healthier lifestyle and improved performance. 




Explore the delicious recipes provided below to enhance your consumption of nutrient-rich superfoods and reap their numerous health advantages.


Blueberries – Berrylicious Smoothie Bowl:


1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 banana

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup granola

A handful of almonds (optional)



Blend the blueberries, banana, and Greek yogurt until smooth.

Pour the smoothie into a bowl.

Top with granola and a drizzle of honey.

Garnish with fresh blueberries and almonds.

Enjoy a refreshing and nutrient-packed breakfast or snack!


Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables:


1 cup cooked quinoa

Mixed vegetables (e.g., cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini)

Olive oil

Lemon juice

Feta cheese (optional)

Fresh herbs (e.g., parsley or basil)



Toss mixed vegetables with olive oil and roast until tender.

Mix the cooked quinoa with the roasted vegetables.

Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice for flavor.

Add crumbled feta cheese and fresh herbs.

Serve as a delicious and nutrient-rich lunch or side dish.


Kale and Berry Salad:


Kale leaves, stems removed and chopped

Mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)

Feta cheese

Walnuts, chopped

Balsamic vinaigrette dressing



Massage kale leaves to soften them.

Toss kale with mixed berries, feta cheese, and chopped walnuts.

Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Enjoy a refreshing and nutrient-packed salad with a burst of flavors.


Chia Seed Pudding:


3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 cup almond milk (or any milk of your choice)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh fruit for topping (e.g., berries or mango)



Mix chia seeds, almond milk, and vanilla extract in a jar.

Stir well and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, give it a good stir and top with fresh fruit.

Enjoy a delightful chia seed pudding as a nutritious breakfast or dessert.


Grilled Salmon with Lemon and Herbs:


Salmon fillets

Olive oil

Lemon slices

Fresh herbs (such as dill or parsley)

Salt and pepper to taste



Brush salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place lemon slices and fresh herbs on top of the fillets.

Grill until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily.

Serve with a side of steamed vegetables or quinoa for a complete and nutritious meal.


Grilled Rosemary Balsamic Steak with Roasted Vegetables:


1 pound (450g) sirloin or ribeye steak

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


For Roasted Vegetables:

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 zucchini, sliced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 red onion, cut into wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh herbs (thyme or rosemary) for garnish



Marinate the Steak

In a bowl, mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper to create the marinade.

 Place the steak in a resealable plastic bag or shallow dish and pour half of the marinade over it. Ensure the steak is well-coated. Marinate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors infuse.


Prepare the Roasted Vegetables

Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).

In a large bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes, zucchini slices, diced bell pepper, and red onion wedges with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and slightly caramelized. Stir halfway through the cooking time.


Grill the Steak

 Preheat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.

 Remove the steak from the marinade and let excess marinade drip off.

Grill the steak for about 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare, adjusting the time according to your desired doneness.

Let the steak rest for a few minutes before slicing.



 Arrange the sliced steak on a plate and surround it with the roasted vegetables.

Drizzle the remaining marinade over the steak and vegetables.

Garnish with fresh herbs, and serve your Grilled Rosemary Balsamic Steak with Roasted Vegetables immediately.



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About O2X Specialist Erik Bastillo:

Erik Bustillo is an O2X Nutrition Specialist. He is a Registered Dietitian and former Vice President, ambassador and fellow of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). Erik is also a Certified Sports Nutritionist through the ISSN, a Certified Strength Coach through the National Council on Strength & Fitness- NCSF, and a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association – NSCA. He also specializes in reading and understanding blood/lab values that have a direct effect on human physiology and one’s ability to perform. Several fields of expertise are energy improvement, performance recovery, weight loss, working with professional/elite athletes, stress management, inspirational communication, mindset, and habit change. 


About O2X Human Performance:


O2X Human Performance provides comprehensive, science-backed programs to hundreds of public safety departments, federal agencies, and the military. O2X works with clients to elevate culture, improve mental and physical wellbeing, support healthy lifestyles, and reduce healthcare costs associated with injuries and illnesses. Driven by results and cutting edge research, O2X programs are designed and delivered by a team of Special Operations veterans, high level athletes, and hundreds of leading experts in their respective fields of human performance.