This is the one you'd take with you to a desert island to keep you healthy.
Out of all the hundreds or even thousands of recommendations made by health professionals, one stands above all others in "truthiness":
Eat fruits and vegetables. Lots of 'em.
You'd have trouble finding anyone to dispute this advice. There's no nutritional "Flat Earth Society" out there that disputes the health attributes of plant matter. What has been in dispute, though, is exactly why fruits and vegetables are so good for you.
In the early days of nutritional science, the "father" of vitamins, a guy with the unlikely name of Casimir Funk, along with his disciples, thought that fruits and vegetables were simply rich sources of various vitamins. The Funkians weren't wrong, but they were only looking at the small piece of the nutritional iceberg lettuce that was showing above ground.
Pick a Disease, I Dare Ya'
The true magic of fruits and vegetables can be found in the polyphenols they contain. Polyphenols are big, honkin' molecules that are hugely abundant in plant matter and play a pivotal role in human health.
Just for grins, think of a fruit or vegetable. Now think of a disease. Then Google the two-word combo. The chances are surprisingly good you'll find numerous studies or articles supporting the use of that fruit or vegetable you chose in combating the disease you chose.
And in almost all cases, the disease fighting properties of that fruit or vegetable (or for that matter, that cup of tea, glass of wine, nut, or grain) can be attributed to the polyphenols it contains – not the vitamins it contains.
Most of the beneficial effects of polyphenols were first attributed to their anti-oxidant effect back in the 1990's, but the reality is much more complex. Their biological effects involve detailed biochemical interactions that we've only just started to understand.
But regardless of the exact mechanism, polyphenols reduce inflammation. They prevent platelet aggregation (clotting). They lower blood pressure. They protect against exercise-induced oxidative stress. They increase insulin sensitivity. They reduce cholesterol. They prevent cancer, and they fight cancer.
The potential list of their beneficial effects is, in fact, exhaustive.
Where Can I Get Me Some Polyphenols?
The obvious answer is to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can. And whole grains. And spices. And teas. Coffee's good, too. So are nuts, seeds, and legumes. Don't forget wines and olive oil and red wine and cocoa.
The "trouble" is that there are a wide variety of polyphenol subclassifications found in different food groups, each with their own beneficial effects. Eating from all of them every day (as it's becoming increasingly clear that you should at least try to do) is a Herculean task – a fat Herculean task – because it would require eating a lot of food from diverse and even exotic food groups on a daily basis.
This is why Superfood is the best "under-the-radar" supplement there is. People use it for its antioxidant potential, which is considerable (one serving has roughly the antioxidant potential of 10 to 12 average servings of fruits or vegetables), but its real power lies in its polyphenol content.
Superfood consists of the freeze-dried extracts of 18 different plants, including fruits likes pomegranate, blueberries, and acai; vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli; and miscellaneous nutritional powerhouses like coffee berry and green tea.
One serving (two tiny scoops) contains a hugely diverse grouping of polyphenols, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid, sulforphanes, glucosinolates, and hundreds of other polyphenols, not to mention other phytochemicals in general and, yes, vitamins.
The Supplement You'd Take to a Desert Island
If I was forced to live on some Cast Away-type island, with or without a soccer ball companion, and I got to choose one supplement to take with me, it would undoubtedly be Superfood. (Granted, coconuts are themselves rich in polyphenols, but only a limited number of types of polyphenols.)
Superfood isn't technically a bodybuilding supplement, but there's probably nothing else you can take that does as much for your overall health, and a body that isn't healthy can't be a muscular body, no matter how much exercise you do or how much protein you eat.
- William, G. "The role of polyphenols in modern nutrition." Nutrition Bulletin 42, pp 226-235, 2017.