There’s so much talk of the so-called superfoods I had to ask myself, what are superfoods? There’s no official definition of a superfood. The term superfood is avoided by most dietitians who prefer to coin it a super diet…A super diet! Well, so what’s a super diet? A dietitian will tell you a super diet is a balanced, well-varied diet full of fruits and veg.
But what about the disease-fighting, antioxidant-packed superfoods, is there such a thing? The supermarkets like us to think so. Food sellers seem to be always telling us of the amazing healing powers of the nutrients in their products, it’s almost as if they are finding antioxidants in every type of food.
“It’s a word that can bring on the ‘health-halo’ effect, tricking people into buying a product because it is perceived to be healthy – regardless of whether it is or not. Similar to when a product is labelled organic. Anything with the word superfood on it can sway a consumer and even convince them to pay more for something.” says Gemma Simpson MA, Dietitian.
There are many foods that contain antioxidants, but not much research suggesting any of the superfoods will single-handedly fight the horrible free radicals that make us ill. In 2007 the EU actually banned the word superfood on packaged food unless there’s sufficient evidence to prove this.
The British NHS believes it is much more important for all of us to eat a well-balanced diet and to avoid relying on a single superfood to help battle a disease or repair our bodies from years of neglect and eating unhealthily.
- Our bodies are more than capable of fighting oxidative stress on their own with a varied healthy diet that includes your 5 a day.
- When it comes to keeping healthy, it’s best not to concentrate on any one food in the hope it will work miracles.
- All unprocessed food from the major food groups could be considered ‘super’. All these foods are useful as part of a balanced diet. ( NHS Choices)
For the most part, we are all eating superfoods if we are buying plenty of veg and low-fat unprocessed meats. Try to vary your diet, avoid too much alcohol and exercise regularly and your body will thank you for it. I’ve been guilty of buying some products that imply certain miracle effects, especially some of the health drinks, that can be sold for up to £4 each here in the UK. You don’t have to spend a fortune to eat healthily. Below is a list I compiled for your “super diet” that won’t break the bank.
All of your regular fruits and veg (apples, pears, bananas, carrots, peas, beans, ) are great for your super diet maybe there’s a few here you haven’t tried or forgotten about that are cheap and full of nutrients.
- Eggs – Studies show that eggs, in fact, only mildly increase our cholesterol levels…The good news, they increase the HDL good Cholesterol. Besides helping our good cholesterol, eggs are loaded with antioxidants. Researchers at the University of Alberta found the yolks contained two amino acids, tryptophan, and tyrosine, which have high antioxidant properties “twice as many antioxidant properties as an apple and about the same as half a serving (25 grams) of cranberries.” Eggs are also full of protein, vitamins A, B12, B2 and B5 and iron.
- Let’s not forget the Bell pepper, cousin of the chilli pepper, packed full of Vitamin C ( reds contain the most) and a host of other nutrients including antioxidants, Vitamin E and B6.
- Broccoli – Excellent source of dietary fibre, vitamin b6, vitamin E, Manganese, and a good source of omega 3 fatty acids
- Seaweed – Not one of my fav’s but worth a try if you fancy something different! high levels of vitamin A, C and calcium, low in calories.
- Onions – Yellow, red or white onions pack a nutritional punch,” Onions are particularly rich sources of sulphur compounds, which protects us against cell damage” Guardian. I don’t know about you, but I love my onions fried, try and fry in an olive oil if you can you do not need much oil just a little- super tasty and still healthy.
- Nuts – Excellent source of dietary fibre, rich in polyunsaturated fats, promotes good heart health. Full of vitamins and minerals, Vitamin E, Potassium and foliate. Although full of the good fats, fats = calories, watch out for portion size.
- Spinach – It’s not for me, but I’m sure many love the stuff…”Spinach belonging to the Chenopodiaceae family, a family of nutritional authority, including beets, chard and quinoa, comes in three different varieties, including savoy semi-savoy and smooth leaf. ” Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid as well as being a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone health and it is difficult to find vegetables richer in vitamin K than spinach. Others include kale, broccoli, and green cabbage.” says Jo Lewin, dietitian for BBC Good Food.
- Garlic – The smell of roasted garlic is almost irresistible, taken out of the oven and spread on freshly baked baguettes, I can’t think of anything much better, maybe a little melted cheese too! Garlic is a powerhouse of nutrition containing vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium and other antioxidants. Many research studies suggest garlic may help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and be effective against colds and some cancers.
- Strawberries – One of the yummiest seasonal fruits. Rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and minerals.
- Green Tea – Whilst there is no evidence drinking green tea will protect us all from certain cancers it is still recommended for its naturally occurring folic acid, B vitamins, and other nutrients such as manganese, potassium, magnesium.
- Greek Yogurt – Nutrient-packed creamy rich yoghurt, lactose intolerant sufferers may find Greek yoghurt easier to digest, mainly due to the breakdown of bacteria by sugars in the milk. A good source of protein if you need to avoid meat. It’s rich in Calcium and great for your digestive system thanks to the probiotics found in the yoghurt.