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healthy bytes: superfoods

During a recent trip to the supermarket, I spent five minutes selecting a juice. The usual advertising remained on the bottles: “no added sugar” and “no concentrate”. But I noticed this time there were juices advertising “superfoods”. I know what sugar is and I know what concentrate is… But what are superfoods? And should we be eating them?

I have a few friends from Cairns who grew up with “raw food” parents, so I asked them about superfoods. Here’s what I learnt…

What makes a food a “superfood”?

A superfood is a food that is known to provide huge nutritional and/or medicinal benefits. For example, you might eat a spoonful of it and have consumed enough fibre, protein or vitamins for the entire day. “Superfood” is more of a marketing term than a scientific term – ask different people and you’ll be given different explanations.

What are some common superfoods?

Here are some of the foods that are widely regarded as superfoods:

Acai berries are a huge source of antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids. They also contain oleic acid, which combats premature ageing. They taste like berries. (Delicious!)

Kale is known as one of the healthiest vegetables and a huge source of fibre and vitamins. It’s an excellent “detox” vegetable – very kind to your digestive system. It tastes (and looks) like spinach.

Goji berries, among other nutrients, have more iron than steak, and more vitamin C than citrus fruits. They taste like raisins that have been dipped in salt.

Maca root powder is rich in amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. It tastes like malt.

Spirulina is extremely high in protein and antioxidants, and three grams of it supplies the nutritional equivalent of two servings of vegetables! Unfortunately, it smells and tastes like fish food. (It is an algae.)

Lentils combine fibre, lean protein, iron and B vitamins. They taste like, well… do lentils taste like anything?

Raw cacao has four times the antioxidants of green tea. It tastes like unsweetened chocolate.

Wild salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fats, vitamin D and selenium. It tastes like fish. (Obviously.)

Also: walnuts, eggs, lean meat, oysters and linseeds.

Should we be eating superfoods?

Google “superfood” and you’ll find 4,800,000 websites telling you about the “Ten Super Foods You Need Now”. Funnily enough, each website lists a different set of foods. While it’s definitely beneficial to eat foods that are rich in nutrients, there are no specific foods you have to eat to be healthy. A range of food, if anything, is the best approach and also the easiest one to maintain. Sure, warm up with a lentil soup in winter; try out a cacao smoothie next time you visit a gourmet café. But don’t feel you have to buy food you wouldn’t otherwise like to eat or spend your money on. For example, spirulina juice. No matter how “super” it claims to be, I promise you won’t like it unless you’re a goldfish.

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Are you a superfood fanatic?  Share your superfood experiences below.

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