Super Foods with a Twist

Superfoods are foods — mostly plant-based, but also some fish and dairy — that are considered to be nutritionally rich and therefore safe. Blueberries, tuna, kale and acai are only a few examples of products with the “superfood” name. According to the American Heart Association, there are no fixed guidelines to decide what is and is not a superfood. “Superfoods don’t have their own food section,” said Despina Hyde, a licenced dietician at the Langone Medical Center at New York University. “As a dietician, I believe ‘superfood’ is a brand word for products with nutritional benefits.”

Superfoods contain a number of minerals, such as antioxidants, believed to combat cancer. They do have healthier fats, thought to prevent heart disease; starch, thought to prevent diabetes and stomach problems; and phytochemicals — chemicals in plants that are responsible for dark colours and odours that can have many health benefits. Eating nutrient-packed foods (as other so-called superfoods are) is definitely a smart thing, Hyde told Live Science. Yet the trick to a balanced diet is to eat a range of nutritious foods, she said.

Popular superfoods

Blueberries also top other superfood lists because they’re high in vitamins, soluble fibre, and phytochemicals. Yet several other plants, including strawberries and cranberries, do contain the same nutrients present in blueberries. A research published in Circulation in 2013 showed that a high intake of phytochemicals known as flavonoids — present in blueberries as well as other varieties of berries — that minimise the risk of some cardiac problems in young people. But the thin, vivid berry could only take the top spot because it’s been tested more regularly, experimental psychologist Barbara Shukitt-Hale told The Atlantic.

Kale lives up to the attention he ‘s received as a superfood, but so do most cool, leafy greens: Swiss chard, collars, mustards (including radish greens), spinach (including those in the amaranth family) and cod. Include broccoli on the page. It’s in the cabbage-mustard family; instead of buds, the modern variety is grown for its fruit. Such dark vegetables are filled with vitamins A , C, K, starch, calcium, and other minerals.

Usually, sweet potatoes and squash do make the superfood list, close to those listed for leafy greens. These diets are typically good sources of calcium, vitamin A, and more. We are also naturally sweet and do not add butter, milk or salt to potatoes.

Superfood lists also contain beans and whole grains. Beans have low-fat protein. Such dietary nuggets include insoluble fibre that reduces cholesterol; soluble fibre that offers a prolonged sense of fullness; and lots of vitamins and trace minerals often absent in the standard American diet, such as manganese. Whole grains — named as such because they are not deprived of their nutrient-containing bran and germinating component during processing unlike processed grains — have comparable benefits to those contained in beans, but they do not produce as much protein. Quinoa is not a food, but cooks like one, and is also a wonderful source of protein , vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.

Nuts and seeds contain high minerals and good fats. While these are common additions to superfood lists, the downside is high in calories. According to Hyde, a short few nuts could contain over 100 calories. Here, shelled nuts and seeds are best because they require longer to break free, which slows you down.

Salmon, sardines, mackerel and certain other fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, believed to minimise the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, eating fish that far outweigh the risk of harming your health from the mercury these fish contain. Unless you’re concerned about the toxins your fish dinner can contain, stop consuming high up food chain seafood. Many species, such as whales, swordfish , king mackerel and tilefish, carry more mercury than smaller fish, such as sardines, smelt and anchovies.

Any superfood list would certainly include a “exotic fruit of the year,” maybe acai berry, noni fruit, dragon fruit, rambutan or grenade. Such fruits can be safer, but experimental experiments do not prove that they are better, less wild (and thus less expensive) fruits, such as blueberries. Any of these fruits can be especially rich in other nutrients. For example, Pomegranate contains ellagitannins (ellagic acid), which may be anti-cancer. Yet red raspberries, probably as tasty as pomegranate seeds, also contain ellagic acid.