Do you include superfoods in your diet? Superfoods are the essential building blocks that bring us optimum health and well being. They are foods packed with lots of vitamins, fiber and protein and are of course good for you. There is not one food group superfoods belong to, but you can spot them easily by there beautiful colours and textures.
The term superfoods has become a buzz word in recent years. I first became aware of the term about twelve years ago soon after I adopted a fish diet. During my lunch break, for a couple of years at work, I would only eat mackerel or sardines accompanied by slices of avocado and tomato. Of course my work colleagues were not too happy and would complain about the ‘fishy’ smell, but I was determined to get the benefits of omega 3.
My new interest in omega 3 was due to the popular research that was surfacing around 2006- 2007 that asserted fatty fish was great for the brain and body. So for a few years I stuck to my fish diet at lunch time, and my husband and I munched on Acai berries, dried banana chips and many other exotic foods that were appearing in our local natural food store. Fast forward 12 years and with the rise of plant based eating and living – superfoods have become a booming industry.
So what is a superfood? There are no set criteria for determining what is and what is not a superfood, according to research from the American Heart Association. “Superfoods don’t have their own food group,” said Despina Hyde, a registered dietician with the weight management program at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “As a dietician, I think ‘superfood’ is more of a marketing term for foods that have health benefits.”
Surprisingly, the term superfood was not derived from people who actually study food such as nutrition scientists and dietitians – but part of a marketing strategy devised by the United Food Company to sell bananas around the time of World War I.
Today the term superfoods is quite popular due to its frequent use in many marketing strategies. It is assumed that superfoods are plant-based in nature but this is not an entire truth.
Although many popular superfoods such as berries, kale, nuts and sweet potatoes are plant based, superfoods such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, are fatty fish rich in omega 3. These foods are packed with antioxidants, which are thought to ward off cancer and are rich in fiber that helps with digestion and diabetes. They also have healthy fats which is thought to prevent heart disease.
Superfoods for your diet
Experimentation is the name of the game and by simply adding a few superfoods to your diet regularly you will look and feel better. Here are a few I like to eat:
Blueberries – I haven’t always liked berries but as I get older I appreciate them more and more. Blueberries are great when you use them in smoothies. They also work well as a light quick snack.
Strawberries – Sitting and eating a bowl of strawberries on a warm day is like heaven. I love these as a snack especially if we go out on a day trip. They are great brain food and will give you energy.
Spinach leaves – I began integrating raw and steamed spinach leaves into my diet about 3 years ago. Like kale, broccoli and cabbage it is loaded with minerals, vitamins and calcium. When making salads these days I often opt to use spinach leaves over lettuce.
Beans – I love using beans in my cooking and often use them in place of rice or potatoes. Beans are a source of low-fat protein and helps to lower cholesterol. They can create a feeling of satiety without feeling bloated which you can get from eating rice or potatoes.
Avocado – Although it’s technically a fruit, the mild-flavoured avocado is used as a vegetable. Packed with loads of vitamins and minerals their nutritious value is priceless. Integrating these into a meal is easy and can be used as a side or main dish.
Sweet potatoes – more sophisticated than their cousin the regular potato, they are full of fiber, vitamin A and much more. These natural gems are also naturally sweet and great to eat in a variety of ways.
Nowadays, the list of what is considered a superfood continues to grow and foods such as quinoa and couscous have also been added. Either way there are so many options to choose from so if you are not using superfoods I highly recommend adding a few here or there. You will feel and look better and your body will thank you for it.