Superfoods – Just a Trend or Tried, Tested & True?
There is scientific evidence to support claims that certain foods can have positive effects on our health – such as slowing down the ageing process and reducing the risk of serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and of mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s and depression. The key issue with this evidence is that it is based on test results using extracted quantities of food which are far greater than the quantities that we would consume as part of a healthy diet – and so it becomes unclear as to exactly how beneficial to us their consumption actually is. What we cannot doubt, however, is that poor diet, sugar, alcohol and obesity are all commonly responsible for a variety of human health issues.
How much is a good amount?
So by definition, a Superfood can be clarified as being a food, which has great nutritional value and therefore is very beneficial to our health. Consuming foods which are good for our health is most beneficial to us if we focus on consuming a variety of high-nutrition foods in the right quantities. Superfoods are not only packed with vitamins and minerals, but they also contain other beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants, healthy fats, fibre and phytochemicals (plant-based nutrients. If we consider consuming some superfoods with every meal that we eat and leaving foods which have very little nutritional value as an occasional menu item, or as a very small segment of a plate of highly nutritional foods, then we are on a good path. We don’t need to be trendy with choices of superfoods for our diet – we don’t need to rush out and stock up on camel milk, quinoa, chia seeds and seaweed. Making simple superfoods a regular part of our everyday diet is surprisingly simple to do.
It’s certainly a cliché, but variety really is the spice of life. Unless we are eating a very varied diet with plenty of different foods, it is likely that we will end up feeling deprived and at some point feel drawn towards snacks and foods with low nutritional value for a little ‘feel good’ spike. It’s likely that many of us eat the same breakfast on a very regular basis and we may think that this is healthy – and if it something like porridge then that’s very true since oats ARE classed as a superfood and are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. However, when made with semi-skinned unpasteurized milk, a handful of blueberries and a teaspoon agave nectar or manuka honey the level of natural sugars in this Superfood breakfast will send your blood sugars sky high.
Some people will then try substituting a couple of morning bowls of porridge with fruit salad and low-fat natural yoghurt – apples, bananas, blueberries, grapes, blackberries, kiwi, oranges, pomegranate, strawberries, melon, and pineapple, are all readily available, and all considered ‘superfruits’. Yet again when adding a few of these into a nutritious smoothie, the natural sugars in this “healthy drink” is close to two slices of white toast.
Tomatoes and avocados are also considered to be superfoods, and mashed avocado on rye bread toast topped with sliced tomato and is another high-nutrition breakfast option. Eggs cause quite a bit of varied opinion on the subject of superfoods because they are packed with proteins, minerals, vitamins and healthy fats, and are therefore a healthy breakfast or snack of choice, but their “Fake News” headline is that they are high in saturated fats and therefore likely to increase your cholesterol levels.
The truth is that the bread your eggs are on is more likely to influence your cholesterol levels compared to the eggs, they are similar to the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in avocados, so you just need to be aware they are a high-calorie superfood and should be eaten in moderation.
It’s pretty common knowledge that all vegetables are on the superfood scale somewhere. Investing in a good quality soup maker is an excellent way to make fresh, superfood-rich soups for meals on the go. All that’s needed is a variety of chopped vegetables, stock and seasoning and in twenty minutes a superfood lunch is served.
Carrots or butternut squash with cauliflower or broccoli with a base of leeks and onions can all be used to make great soups. A cheese salad is a good lunch box filler, Cottage Cheese, Feta, Goat’s or Sheep’s cheese with Cos lettuce as your wrap and some crudities (vegetable sticks), and you could add a slice of rye sourdough if you really need bread. Chickpeas, like hummus, or guacamole can be great with some cucumber, peppers and raw carrot. These are high fat though so no need for bread with these.
Pick any protein and add various green leafy vegetables, such as asparagus, tender stem broccoli, spring greens, cabbages, you can stir-fry or stream them with a knob of butter melted over the top. Add in some butternut squash, turnip, celeriac or parsnips, as you can roast or mash them. Our best tip is to think of what you want to eat and make it superfood-rich by adding to it.
If you want rice, try cauliflower rice or pasta, try buckwheat, or spinach pasta. If you want a curry, make it from scratch using chicken, vegetables, tomatoes and all the delicious warm spices, make a sag bhaji, and it will feel like a takeaway treat! Try turkey meatballs or Quorn chilli-con-carne with a deep rich tomato sauce with courgette spaghetti or buckwheat soba noodles
It’s so easy
Eating superfoods is easier than most of us think, and once you get into the habit of making every meal nutritionally rich, then the occasional pizza shouldn’t make you feel guilty. Even PIZZA can contain superfoods – think tomato topping, spinach, egg, onions, mushrooms, green peppers – and if you include a little cheese and lean ham then that’s still not a bad compromise.