There is increasing interest in superfoods that provide an abundance of nutrients if consumed all by themselves and as such have attracted the name superfoods. A super food is simply a food, however, some substances that are manufactured, processed and even created in a food chemist’s laboratory are incorrectly called food and people erroneously think that some of these things are safe to consume. So from a marketing perspective in order to get the attention of the consuming public for the sake of their health, simply using the term food cannot compete with the likes of.....well, I’m not even going to mention names here, but you know, any fast food corporate giant that has simply hijacked the term food and blankets us all with intense advertising and marketing campaigns.
From a health and wellness perspective it is good news that Superfoods... a descriptive term is gaining wide use and acceptance especially among those people that are becoming increasingly concerned about their health and those of their children and loved ones.
As far as relevance to your heart health is concerned, this does not occur in isolation, independent of what you eat nor is it totally reliant on your genetic make-up, disease is not inevitable. All nutritious food and its various components becomes a powerful disease fighting, blood thinning, cell energizing ,gene modulating powerhouse in your body that can change your life and save your life.
So how do foods get ‘elevated’ in status to become superfoods? This is all to do with their nutritional content. Some superfoods have a high naturally occurring...and yes the emphasis here is on naturally occurring vitamin profile while others will have a very strong presence of minerals derived of course from the soil or water they were growing in, not ground up rocks made into a pill and marketed as a mineral supplement. Can you really digest rocks?
The label superfood is all about placing nutritional emphasis on plants and the nutrition that has been absorbed into the plant or synthesized within the plant as a result of its growing conditions. When you consume the edible part of the plant, you directly ingest the nutrition exactly as nature intended. Other super foods will have a high concentration of phytonutrients or phytochemicals that that plant produces in significant quanties. For example, in the case of broccoli, it is the phytonutrient content that makes this plant such a powerful cancer fighting food.
Some superfoods such as Quinoa (keen-wha) , chia seeds, kale and broccoli you would simply add to your diet as a regular part of your normal eating routine. These are highly nutritious foods and in the case of Kale and broccoli you might even be able to grow these yourself for a truly ‘Organic’ or pesticide free product. Quinoa is a fanastic rice substitute which I use frequently myself. Originally native to South America it was revered as a sustaining, health giving food and was even used in religious ceremonies such was the esteem it was held in by the indigenous people.
Other super foods are marketed as products in powder form derived from the nutritious part of the plant such as the berry, nut, root, seed, leaf or stem. This enables you to add these without any fuss to your healthy smoothe or juice every day.
Some of my favourite superfoods include;
Chia seeds, from the South American continent. Chia has a high antioxidant profile and is full of naturally occurring vegetarian based healthy omega fats. Chia seeds are very small and look a bit like sesame seeds but they are not the same thing. Chia has a sustaining, energy preserving quality and can help prevent you from feeling hungry between meals.
Chlorella and Spirulina are microscopic plants that grow in fresh water and are really micro algae. These superfoods contain no refined carbohydrates and contain high levels of readily digestible protein, healthy fats (fatty acids) and chlorophyll, not to mention a vast array of other nutrients including vitamins, macrominerals and trace minerals. You can consume this green superfood as a green drink, sometimes called supergreens. It doesn’t taste as bad as what you might be thinking either ...I really enjoy it...and the health benefits? Well...simply amazing.
Acai or the Acai berry is harvested from palm trees in the Amazon and has been used as a staple food and medicinal food by the indigenous population for a very long time. It contains an array of phytochemicals, omega healthy fats, vitamins minerals and other plant synthesized compounds that will help to maintain your health.
Goji or Goji berries come from the Asian continent and have a very long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. This superfood contains long chain polysaccharides or glyconutrients, an array of amino acids, antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Goji can assist support of your immune and cardiovascular systems.
Mangosteen is another Asian based superfood coming from the southeast regions. It is currently being studied at Flinders University in South Australia for its potential in healthcare. Mangosteen is a type of fruit that grows in trees not too different from the appearance of an apple tree. This fruits bioactive substances are thought to contain antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties among others. It can be purchased in powder form for adding to smoothes to boost nutritional value.
Maqui or Maqui Berries take us back again to the South American continent to the area known as Patagonia. These berries have been used traditionally by the Mapuche people indigenous to this area for the promotion of health and vitality including such biological markers as strength and endurance. Modern science has shown the berries to have a very high ORAC score and as such may be beneficial for immune support, cardiovascular health and skin health.
Sacha Inchi. I use Sacha inchi powder every day. It is a fantastic light, nutty vegetarian protein source...again from South America. It contains a vast array of essential and non essential amino acids and has an extremely high digestibility along with a very nice balance of vegetarian based omegas. If you’re trying to cut back on your animal based protein then include this in your daily diet. Sacha inchi is a product of nature’s medicine cabinet – the Peruvian Amazon Rain forest and is actually a nut. The powder form is actually a by product of the nut with nothing added – pure nutrition.
Cacao Nibs. Do you like chocolate? Silly question right. Cacao is actually the source of all chocolate products and cocoa. The nibs themselves are small portions of cacao beans or seeds which come out of the large fruit pod from the cacao tree. They are a good source of magnesium and potassium, have a very high ORAC score and contain polyphenols. Evidence for the role of polyphenols in the prevention of such degenerative diseases as cancer and cardiovascular disease continues to emerge.
If you want to vastly improve your chances of maintaining your overall health and your cardiovascular health, then the quality of your nutrition, followed by quantity and frequency of your nutrition is where you stand or fall. Adding superfoods to your daily diet can help the complex systems working "under the hood" to get all the raw materials they need to keep you in peak condition in a toxic world.