What Makes Superfoods "Super" ?
Nov 10, 2015
What Makes Superfoods “Super” ?
Can a food really be “Super” and will Superfoods really prevent certain diseases like heart disease or cancer?
A “Superfood” is a term for any food that contains multiple health-promoting nutrients compared to another food in the same category.
- For example Salmon is a superfood that contains many more health-promoting nutrients compared to a white fish like catfish.
The truth is….While Superfoods may be high in essential vitamins, minerals, nutrients, antioxidants, and/or phytochemicals - If you have a poor diet then eating 1 cup of blueberries and a piece of salmon for dinner each day aren’t necessarily going to prevent you from getting heart disease.
These Superfoods must be consumed along with an overall balanced & healthy diet in order to work as a team and have the greatest protective benefit against some of these diseases.
We still have genetics, our age, and other factors that can play a role in the development of some diseases that we just cannot change.
Here’s what we CAN do:
- Balance your plate with a small portion of lean protein at your meals (3-4oz)
- Eat a small portion of grains (choosing whole grains over processed ones more often) or starches (like sweet potatoes or corn) at your meal
- Examples: 1 cup of whole grain pasta or 1 cup of brown rice
- Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies – eat as many colors as possible every day!
- Choose plain low-fat or non-fat dairy products
- Consume a variety of these Superfoods listed below and some of them should be done so in moderation (example: dark chocolate, wine, nuts)
Photo Courtesy of healthination.com
Here are some of the Most Popular Superfoods:
- Salmon is a fatty fish that’s low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, reduce triglycerides (the chemical form of fats in most foods and in your body) and slow the growth of plaque in the arteries. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3.5 ounce servings of fish a week.
- Fermented Foods contain healthy gut bacteria that help return your gastrointestinal tract to a normal & healthy balance of bacteria. A few benefits include boosting your body’s ability to fight infections/your immune system and decreased inflammation in the body. Some examples include Kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurts that specific that they contain “Live and Active Cultures,” and other cultured dairy products.
- Berries like Blueberries and Strawberries have high levels of phytochemicals called flavonoids. One study showed that women who consumed more blueberries and strawberries had a lower risk of heart attack. The American Heart Association recommends nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, about 4.5 cups.
- Quinoa & Amaranth – which are “pseudo grains” (aren’t true grains) that are full of fiber, nutrients, and are both relatively high in protein!
- Flaxseed & Chia Seed are packed full of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, fiber, full of antioxidants and more!
- Pumpkin is low in calories, high in fiber and high in vitamin A.
- Kale provides vitamins A and C, potassium and phytochemicals.
- Nuts & Legumes are good sources of protein and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats when eaten in moderation. Choices include unsalted almonds, peanuts, pistachios and walnuts. The American Heart Association recommends getting four servings a week. Stick to 1/4 to 1/3 cup for a serving.
- Plain Low-fat or nonfat yogurt, which provides calcium, vitamin D and protein, can be a good substitute for sour cream in recipes.
- Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, but fat and calories too! Treat yourself in moderation to avoid weight gain. Make sure you choose at least 70% or higher to ensure the most flavonoids and less sugar.
- Red wine in moderation may have some health benefits, but that doesn’t mean more is more. In fact, high alcohol consumption can have negative effects on health, such as increased triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and liver damage.
Information in part courtesy of American Heart Association (Heart.org)
Melanie Kluzek, Registered Dietitian for County Market