In the effort to eat a healthful, balanced diet, people often gravitate towards those foods designated as a “superfood.” And, why not? Eating superfoods may reduce the risk of chronic disease and prolong life.
Superfoods appear to offer health benefits beyond simple nutrition. Superfoods are nutrient dense packages with a combination of the following attributes:
- May contain substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids or monounsaturated fatty acids.
- Often high in fiber.
- Contain phytochemicals that have been found to have the potential to prevent disease.
- Rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Low in unhealthy substances such as saturated fats, trans-fats, or refined sugars.
While superfoods are mostly plant-based, they do not belong to any actual food groups. Superfoods span categories such as berries, leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, and fish. It is important to remember – no single food – regardless of how “super” it may be, can take the place of an important combination of nutrients from all major food groups.
Before delving into the “superfood bandwagon,” consider the following:
- Do you enjoy the food? No food is worth eating if you don’t like the flavor or texture.
- Will this food add variety to my diet? Studies show that individuals who consume a wide variety of foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, are more likely to enjoy good health.
- Are you willing to tweak your diet? Experiment with a new food or simply increase the intake of familiar foods. Even a slight change in flavors, such as different spices or oils, can wake up the taste buds and add more health benefits.
- Where was it sourced? Local products are likely to taste fresher and require less packaging.
- What is the cost? Many superfoods may come in juice form and claim to contain a “concentrated” source of antioxidants. However, eating the actual fruit or vegetable also offers nutritional benefits
- Is there research to back nutritional claims? There is no legal or medical definition for a superfood. As a result, the term superfood can be used as a marketing tool in order to boost profit. Use caution when selecting new and unfamiliar foods.
In all honesty, we are surrounded by superfoods. Simply walk into the produce department and appreciate all the colors of the rainbow. Each fruit and vegetable has a specific nutrition profile. Aim to include dark green leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach. Enjoy dark orange and red vegetables, like tomatoes and red peppers. Incorporate different varieties of berries into salads, snacks, and desserts. Appreciate each and every variety of apple, melon, and squash. It is easy to consume superfoods, without breaking the bank or ordering food from obscure places on the Internet. Boost fiber intake with whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice. Plan plant-based meals that contain beans and lentils. Add omega 3 fatty acids, such as cold-water fish like salmon and tuna, flaxseed, and walnuts. And don’t forget about sources of calcium from dairy foods or fortified plant milk. Begin your day with this Berry Smoothie Bowl. The berries, loaded with antioxidants, pack a powerful punch. This Mediterranean Chopped Salad is a meal itself, loaded with fresh vegetables and bold spices. Try these delicious, low-calorie, light and satisfying Salmon Cakes. Serve along with Garlic Roasted Broccoli and Ginger Brown Rice for a super meal.
To learn more about superfoods, don’t miss the upcoming, free nutrition event at McCaffrey’s. Click here to learn more and RSVP.