Mother earth provides us with a glorious selection of healthy foods, but research has yet to prove any of them magical. Help erase those fantastical ideas about superfoods by exploring the new but by relying on the tried, tested and true!
Superfoods are foods with supposed magical and extra special health-related benefits. They are marketed as magical ingredients that can help with fighting stress, losing weight, fighting cancer and a host of other ailments. Almost daily, we are bombarded with hundreds of Superfoods and even the wariest consumers are enticed by their health claims (better energy levels, smoother skin, longer life etc.) as well as the fact that these foods are seen to be placed somewhere between food and medicine.
Many Superfoods are very expensive and majority of families cannot afford to include them into their diets. We need to remember at the end of the day that Superfoods are ‘’real agricultural products that are produced, transformed, and consumed’’ and that not one food contains all the nutrients your body needs. As dietitians our mantra is balance, balance, balance. Continue to follow those nutrition messages you’re always hearing from us – eat a wide variety foods. Include a variety of vegetables, fruits and legumes to help you get on track with a super diet that contains all the nutrients you will need.
Below are some of the common Superfoods we see in health shops. We have researched these and provided you with more everyday alternatives that also pack a nutrition punch and won’t empty your bank account.
i.e. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Rocket, Cabbage and Bok Choy, Collards, Watercress, Radish
|Rich in folate and Vitamin K
Dark Green Cruciferous: excellent source and Vitamin A and C, your antioxidants
Rich in phytonutrients — plant-based compounds that help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer
Rich in fiber which help reduce cholesterol and helps to keep you fuller for longer and thus also preventing overeating
To get the benefits add 2 ½ cups of these vegetables in your daily eating
|ACAI||BLUBERRIES, STRAWBERRIES, RASBERRIES, CRANBERRIES||Know as nutritional powerhouses, rich in anitoxidants, vitamin C, folate, fiber and potassium
Blueberries are rich in anitoxidants and phytochemicals: research has shown that these are linked to heart and brain health and cancer and diabetes prevention
Add ½ cup a day which equals to one serving of fruit
Cranberries – contain proanthocyanidinst that have a special structure giving them anti-adhesion properties preventing dangerous bacteria from adhering to human cells. This is why cranberries are related to helping with urinary tract infections (UTIs) – as they have been shown to inhibit the adhesion of the E.Coli strains that cause UTIs
Add a handful to your smoothie or include as part of a snack
|Goji is related to the tomato, potato, and eggplant and they contain some of the same nutritional value – including beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lycopene, these play a role in eye health and cancer prevention
An alternative substitute would be blueberries or cranberries – see Acai alternatives for more detail
|MANGOSTEENS||ANY OTHER FRESH FRUIT||MANGOSTEEN
Not enough studies have been done to confirm the benefits in humans
Most benefits seen come from chemicals in the peel which are not consumed
No nutritional analysis done on the fruit only on the juice/syrup and vitamin content was moderate
You could choose any fruit of your choice and get just as much benefits as eating a Mangosteen
|KEFIR||FERMENTED DAIRY PRODUCTS such as yoghurt (choose a plain, unsweetened option)
Non dairy foods which also have beneficial cultures include kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and soy beverages
|A source of probiotics.
Probiotics are the ‘good’ bacteria/live cultures. These help to change or repopulate the bacteria found in our guts to help balance gut flora. Probiotics and the balancing of gut flora may help boost the immune system and gastrointestinal health.
|BLACK GARLIC||FRESH GARLIC – in larger quantities||Good source of antioxidants.
Antioxidants help to protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. If healthy cells are weakened they become more susceptible to cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
Black garlic and fresh garlic have the same nutritional properties, but black garlic seems to be a more concentrated form of antioxidant. A good tip would be to opt for more fresh garlic.
|SEAWEED||SALMON/FATTY FISH WITH FLAXSEEDS AND A KELP SUPPLEMET/SOURCE OF DAIRY
(e.g. salmon encrusted in flaxseed powder)
|Seaweed provides a substantial amount of lignan (a type of fibre), EPA and DHA long chain omega 3 fatty acids. It is also a source of most B vitamins, calcium, iodine, magnesium, potassium and zinc as well as vitamins A, C and K.
To provide a substitute we included a variety of items: Fatty fish provides omega 3 fatty acids, while falxseeds provide omega 3’s as well as lignin. To ensure iodine intake you could include a kelp supplement (also high in B vitamins), fish or dairy into your diet.
Ground flaxseeds are more digestible but have a shorter shorter shelf life (+6-16 weeks in the fridge). You can always buy whole flaxseeds and grind as needed.
|An excellent source of lignans, fibre and omega 3 fatty acids.
Lignans are classified as a fibre and a type of phytoestrogen. They exert powerful antioxidant effects which has shown to have an effect in decreasing LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and potentially lowering the risk for certain types of cancers.
Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that have been shown to provide health benefits such as lowering the risk for coronary heart disease, lowering cholesterol levels as well as curbing stiffness and joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis.
|HEMP SEEDS||FLAXSEEDS||See above|
|MACA POWDER||CACAO OR CAROB POWDER||Maca is a root vegetable that was originally grown in Peru. It has a higher fat content than other root vegetables.
A great source of antioxidants (vitamin A, C, E), loaded with magnesium, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium.
Munchwize Dietitians Cape Town are based in Claremont.