The Truth About Superfoods
When you think about the word ‘superfood’, what comes to mind? A carrot in a cape? Spinach with super-strength? Perhaps seeds that are faster than a speeding bullet?However entertaining that sounds, there is really no such thing as ‘superfoods’ (by scientific standards). This well coined buzzword is simply a marketing tool to encourage people to sit up and take notice that not all foods are created equal. That said, some foods are definitely more beneficial to our bodies than others.
It all started back in the 1920’s when The United Food Company ran a series of colourful ads, drawing attention to the health benefits of eating bananas. Research was published substantiating their claims and thus, the banana became the first food to be recognised as a ‘superfood’.
Since then, further research has been conducted on various fruits and vegetables to ascertain whether they deserve the ‘superfood’ status. In order to achieve this, certain criteria had to be met.
What makes food, super?
Even though there is no finite criteria, in order to be classified as a superfood, the food in question needs to have high nutritional value as well as be high in antioxidants.
The food must also have been proven to have actual health benefits. For example; dark fruits like blackberries and red cabbage are thought to protect against health disease, whilst lighter coloured fruits like tomatoes and carrots may reduce the risk of certain cancers. And plants are generally high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
If you have incorporated these into your diet on a regular basis, you can rest assured that you are supercharging your eating plan. Plants are less likely to contain saturated fats, found in animal products so they are more likely to give you more nutritional value.
Do not fear however, some animal-products are also considered superfoods, so remember to consider the balance in your diet and keep it as varied as possible.
The key is in the colour!
Always try to emulate a rainbow on your plate! The brighter the better. Here are 3 options to get you started.
Spinach: Popeye wasn’t lying when he ate his spinach helping his guns to pop. This dark leafy green is jam packed with so many beneficial nutrients, such as iron, potassium, and fibre. Use it as a bed for a colorful salad, or sauté it in butter or oil with garlic for a tasty side.
Watermelon: Water is one of the most important parts of our diet, so by eating watermelon, you have a delicious way to make sure you’re staying hydrated. Try it in a salad, a smoothie or simply as a summer snack.
Fun fact: Watermelon gets its pretty colour from the antioxidant lycopene that helps protect cells in your body from damage.
Avocados: Not just the staple breakfast of millennials everywhere, but also super healthy, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), ½ an avocado provides 29 milligrams (mg) of magnesium, or about 7 percent of the DV. Magnesium plays a role in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar.
Why not try out this delicious breakfast recipe, which includes TWO superfoods!
What about the protein?
Whilst the general consensus is that a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest you can follow, balance is paramount and many animal-based foods have gotten the ‘superfood’ nod.
- Fish: Unlike many animal products high in saturated fats, such as red meat and processed meats, that can raise the risk of heart disease, fish is full of protein and rich in healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids — namely the type you get from seafood including fish — are particularly beneficial to our bodies.
- Eggs: Even though they get a bad rap due to their high cholesterol content, eggs are still one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Whole eggs include multiple nutrients including Vitamin A and B as well as iron and phosphorus. They also contain two very healthy antioxidants that are known to protect eye health
Variety is the spice of life.
Taylor Wolfram, RD, who runs a private practice based in Chicago, Illinois, says the healthiest diets are diverse and balanced — not ones based on "superfoods” alone.
“There are tons of different kinds of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables,” she says. “The varieties in color indicate different nutrients that confer some sort of health benefit — the more diverse your diet, the better.”
Do not be drawn into the media hype around superfoods. Many people have unrealistic expectations, thinking that by simply incorporating superfoods into their diets, they will be protected from chronic diseases and health problems.
This is not the case. Whilst superfoods are a natural boost for your body and certainly the healthier way to eat, a holistic health journey is always the best way forward to living your best life!
And so, to help you digest and put all of this information to good use, Body20 Members get access to Nutrition Doctors and Wellness Coaches who are on call to assist with your personal health journey.
Find out more about how to kickstart your holistic health by booking a free demo at your nearest Body20 Studio.