A healthy diet usually requires eating healthy foods. Within this group of healthy foods certain foods have been classified as “super-foods”. Some foods seem to offer more benefits than others, but are they better for us and can they be classified as a “super-food”?
The term super food has been used fairly liberally. In general, a food to be classified as a super-food needs to be packed with fibre, heathy fats ,nutrients and have the potent disease fighting compounds. Many of these claims about super-foods have been made without any supporting scientific evidence and in 2007, The European Union banned the use of such terms on any food labels unless there was scientific evidence to support it.
Irrespective of what the European Union has said about the labelling of foods, there is clear evidence to suggest that different antioxidants can be found in a balanced diet that not only contains fresh fruit and vegetables but also nuts and berries too.
The following foods are a great source of fibre, nutrition and antioxidants etc, but do they have to be a super-food to supply that??
High in fibre, naturally sweet and their rich colour means they are high in Antioxidants. When not available fresh, frozen berries are just as good on cereal and in a smoothy.
Nuts and seeds.
Nuts contain high levels of natural plant protein as well as monounsaturated fats which may be a factor in reducing heart disease. Brazil, hazel, walnuts, almond ,cashews and pecan are all highly recommended. On the seed front flax, chia and hemp seeds are all packed with vitamins and minerals.
Nuts and seeds have also been recommended as a great sacking food as they provide all the benefits from above as well as helping to fill the stomach, thereby reducing the need to snack on less nutritious foods.
Are all high in fibre, folates and plant based protein, vitamins and low in saturated fats which are all good for reducing heart disease. The board category of the thousands of beans include kidney, red and garbanzo, soya, peas, chickpeas and edamame. Peanuts are also in the legume family making them a great low carb snack, minus the salt!
They provide both soluble and insoluble fibre as the grains contain, several of the B vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins. They have been shown to help lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease and diabetes 2. Oatmeal, bulgur wheat , quinoa, farro wheat , brown rice and wheat berries. Substitute white or brown bread for “100% whole wheat flour” bread.
Dark leaf vegetables are a great source of both vitamin A, C and calcium as well as adding fibre to your diet. If any leafy green deserves the title of super-food the simple Spinach leaf would certainly be up for nomination. Spinach provides protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and magnesium. The health benefits are: Reduces blood sugar, hypertension, helps reduce anaemia, heart attacks, atherosclerosis, weight loss, has anti- inflammatory properties, aides in bone strength, good for the eyes, boosts immunity to mention just a few of the benefits from eating spinach.
Excellent source of fibre, vitamins and photochemical (including thiocyanates, indoles and nitrates.) Generally well known vegetables, but often the ones most disliked: Brussel sprouts, broccoli cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, radishes and turnips. Once again great both fresh and frozen when when both lightly steamed or stir fried as well as in soups and casseroles or a pasta dish.
These vegetable have been the staple of human diets for many years and with all their benefits will continue to do so. Sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, beets, parsnips and potatoes will appear on the table most weekends in some form or another. They are packed with healthy carbs and starches that provide energy and hold great amounts of anti inflammatory , anti-oxidative and anti microbial properties.
Tomatoes are very high in vitamin C and lycopene which have been shown to be active against prostate cancer. Tomatoes are both tasty in their natural state but are more potent when slightly heated where the active lycopene become more active.
Great source of both protein and omega-3 fatty acids to prevent heart disease, strokes and alleviating depression . The fish with the highest levels of omega-3 acids are, Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout and sardines. great both rowena fresh.
Olives, both their natural form and as an oil are high in vitamin E, polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids, great for fighting heart disease. The quality of the oil, indicated by the number of presses (Extra virgin oil, being the product of the 1st pressing of the olive) will usually have the highest benefits and quality. Great for salads and in place of butter or margarine.
A great source of calcium and protein that also contain probiotics bacteria, get for fighting the bad bacteria. Look for yoghurt that have “live active cultures” such as Lactobacillus , L. acidophilus , L.bulgaricus and S.thermophilus. Use instead of mayonnaise or sour cream in dips and sauces. Other sources of probiotic bacteria are: Kimchi, kombucha, kefir, miso and sauerkraut.
Whether all the foods mentioned above are super or not, a healthy diet should be based around a variety of different food groups and sources to provide the daily fibre, protein and nutrition that we need each day.
Having gone through the list of foods above, it seems tougher to avoid them than to consume them. I must admit, one of my favourite super-foods would be the potato, sadly I don’t think it counts in the chip form, no mater how many tomatoes I have with it.
I must admit I prefer plain meals and enjoy a plate full of vegetables, in the recent months I have been adding raspberries and blueberries to my cereals, both of them have good antioxidant properties. I didn't know that tomatoes were shown to be active against prostate cancer.