The Oxford Dictionary defines a ‘super food’ as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be espe-cially beneficial for health and well-being.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a super food as “a super nutrient-dense food, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, and/or phytonutrients.”
In other words? A super food is a food that is nutrient rich, and is shown to combat the devel-opment of some chronic diseases.
Are all ‘super foods’ actually super?
You’ve probably heard cocoa and pomegranate be labelled ‘super,’ and they really are. Here are some of the most common super foods and why they’re so great for you.
- Blueberries have a high concentration of anthocyanins which reportedly inhibit the growth of human colon cancer cells. They’re also rich in other antioxidants which have been shown to prevent and reverse age-related memory decline in rats.
- Pomegranate juice has been shown to lower blood pressure short-term. It’s also shown to reduce oxidative stress in healthy people which helps reduce heart disease.
- Cocoa has been shown to lower blood pressure and increases the elasticity of arter-ies thanks to flavonoids.
- Oranges have 40 times more folate (vitamin B that helps prevent birth defects) than an apple and can be an important part of prenatal nutrition.
What foods should we call ‘super’ that are just considered normal?
If we use the definitions above, we can consider plenty of foods to be ‘super’ even though they are not be marketed using the ‘super food’ term. In fact, many ordinary fruits, vegetables and seeds actually provide a ton of goodies to promote your health, making them just as ‘su-per’ as well-known ‘super-foods.’
- Beetroots are known as ‘super foods’ as they’re good for your arteries thanks to their ability to convert nitrate into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has been shown to minimise and even reverse arterial hardening. When your arteries harden, you’re risk of blood pressure, stroke and heart attack hugely increases.
However! Beetroot contains 146mg of nitrate per 100g. Rocket contains 260mg per 100g. So rocket is even more super than the ‘super food’ beetroot! Beetroot is easier to eat in large quantities though, as you need many handfuls of rocket to weigh in at 100g.
- Chia seeds are marketed as ‘super’ sources of Omega 3’s. Omega 3’s minimise your risk of heart disease, and also act as powerful anti-inflammatories to minimise the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and even degenerative osteoarthritis.
However! 100g of Chia seeds contain 1.8g of Omega 3’s vs. the same weight of farmed Atlantic salmon which contains 2.3g. It’s handy to note though, Chia seeds are powerful sources of soluble fibre which help manage cholesterol, weight gain and GI health. So chia seeds really are super, but not just because of their Omega-3 con-tents.
- Kale was one of the first foods known as a ‘super food’ thanks to its high levels of glucosinolates that are known to decrease your risk of cancer.
However! The humble brussell sprout contains 236mg of glucosinolates per 100g, while curly kale contains only 100mg. Brussell sprouts deserve the ‘super food’ title even more than kale!
Other ‘super foods’ that give you the highest quantities of vitamin C, folate, fibre and minerals without overloading your system are:
- Dark green lettuces (eg. baby spinach and rocket)
- Sweet potato
- Fresh garlic (as an antimicrobial)
So there you have it! Some of the most ‘super’ super foods are well-known thanks to clever marketing, while others are less famous. Whichever super foods you decide to add to your diet, do remember their nutrient content depends on where they’re grown. All the ingredients mentioned above are optimised in organic produce, so choose organic where you can. You’ll reap all the benefits listed above, without exposing yourself and your family to chemical nas-ties.
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