It’s fact. And it’s fiction. And it’s also sat somewhere in the middle.
Let me explain.
All unprocessed foods are valuable to your body’s health. That’s the somewhere in the middle bit. Some foods however, are so packed with the essential vitamins or the fats and proteins we need to absorb easier them that they perform much higher than other foods that don’t. Super.
The fiction element of the argument is that by eating just these superfoods, merely labelled as such by cunning marketeers, is that they’ll have incredible properties and offer amazing results. It’s purely a marketing tactic to encourage you to buy those products producers want to sell.
There is no single food that will fly into a burning building and rescue victims trapped in the fire, and by the same standards there is no single food that will prevent cancer, reduce your blood pressure, or soak up the free radicals that damage our cells.
So what’s the answer?
The answer clear and simple is the same as it always has been.
Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, don’t put your body under too much strain but put it under just enough to keep it performing at the rate it requires to keep it performing at its best.
Back to the foods
So what does your balanced diet look like?
If you want to remember that none of the so-called superfoods will remove the risk or damage done by eating the foods that aren’t part of your healthy diet then that’s a good place to start. It’s a cruel world that the foods we crave the most, the ones that seem the most unhealthy, (go on, think about it, the high in fat chocolate, the sugar rich creams and alcohol laden wines, beers and whiskey, ice cream, donuts, burgers and chips…) then those are the ones you should try to avoid or eat in moderation. Nobody expects you to be live like a monk, but if you want to be healthy and look after your body, then you need to really limit your intake of fuels that aren’t very good for you.
Below are a few examples of the so-called superfoods. They’re not magical, but they’re pretty super all the same. The reason being is that they perform above and beyond a normal food type. Every food will contain an amount of some vitamin or mineral that your body needs to function. Some have tiny amounts of those ingredients and some, our so-called superfoods, have them in abundance. Putting together your balanced diet then, it would make sense to choose foods that not only provide you a full range of everything your body needs to function to it’s peak performance but to do it efficiently we should choose the ingredients where we hit our daily recommendations without having to overdo the eating.
This phrase has been banded about forever and for good reason. Five different types of fruit or vegetables will pretty much go a long way to providing the nutrients we need. It’s a good start. To make our job of deciding which we should eat a little easier here’s are a few suggestions not limited to fruit and vegetables but are in the list of ‘superfoods’ and why they’re such key players.
Ok, nuts are full of fat. Bad right? Not necessarily. Almonds provide the richest source of calcium of all nuts and have an incredibly high level of Vitamin E. They’re full of protein and vegan friendly. Just keep an eye on how many you eat. Fat is still fat and those calories need a limit too.
Full of monounsaturated fats (a good fat – one to help your body absorb Vitamins A, D, E and K) that helps protect your cardiovascular system. But be careful, one avocado contains as many calories as a Mars bar, and we know what too many Mars bars will do to your figure…
What? Broccoli isn’t super? It’s just, well, broccoli! As we’ve said, the superfood marketing boom concentrated on the things that the producers wanted to sell to you at hiked up prices. Our superfoods are ones that perform above and beyond other foods. Broccoli is one of the most nutrient heavy vegetables (or even foods) you’re likely to find. Full of potassium, iron, calcium and fibre and topped off with good doses of Vitamins A, C and K then if you’re not including this hero in your meals already, you really should be. The combination of such elements help to combat aging, strengthen your bones, lower your blood pressure and can help reduce swelling. The antioxidant lutein, also found in broccoli, is known to protect your retina. Another little bonus right there.
The old school thought that eggs weren’t healthy, that they were bad for your cholesterol levels, has been overtaken by the fact that we know now that they’re full of protein, essential minerals and vitamins. Eggs provide a source of EVERY vitamin apart from Vitamin C. They are especially high in B12 and K, providing a third of the RDA of K for women.
Back to one of those foods featured on the hipster friendly marketeers list. Kale is rich in fibre, packed with minerals and vitamins. High in Vitamin A, B6 and C kale is great for your skin, and like its green brother broccoli it also contains that lutein that’s so good for your eyes.
Having said that, don’t buy in too heavy on kale being an extraordinary vegetable. Many of your less glamorous and regular supermarket buys will provide just as many of the benefits and often in larger quantities. Carrots will provide you with more Vitamin A, spinach will provide bigger doses of iron, magnesium and potassium, and good old brussels sprouts will supply more fibre. As we’ve said already, it’s about variety. And balance.
Our body’s sweeter friends
Looking for a way to feel like you’re eating a treat but still promoting good health to your system?
Pomegranate seeds are rich in antioxidants, Vitamins B, C and K, fibre and potassium. Drinking its juice will promote blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Similarly blueberries also contain antioxidants known to absorb free radicals that will damage healthy cells.
Goji berries have been utilised in Chinese medicine for thousands of years and contain Vitamin A (an antioxidant), Vitamin C (also an antioxidant that builds collagen to promote healthy skin), and also iron (aiding the manufacture of blood cells).
And so many more…
The list goes on and on. Beetroot, seaweed, salmon, sweet potato, seeds, cinnamon and pumpkin; all brimming with the things our bodies need. And there are more and more, it’s what makes nutrition such an endless and complicated topic, yet you don’t have to be an expert to make what you eat count for you. We gave you the golden rule right at the beginning. Variety. Eat a good balance of fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds and you’re half way there. Keep an eye on those calories and you’re really on it.
For those of you not sure how to mix them into your daily diet? Don’t despair! Our marketing friends are onto that too. You can find hundreds of recipes in books and online that will guide you through every step of the process; suggesting recipes, food diaries and more to keep you superfood fit. So what are you waiting for? Go eat yourself healthy, but in between those runs in the countryside and long walks by the sea of course!