What Could be Lurking in your Favorite Café Snacks…
Hippocrates had it right around 300 BC when he advised, “Make thy food thy medicine, and thy medicine thy food.” (We’re slow learners as a race, aren’t we?) Let’s discuss 10 superfoods. Traditionally defined, these foods have exceptional properties. A grocery list will follow, featuring the foods most frequently rated as “super”.
In Europe, the word superfood lead to so much misleading hype that the European Union now permits the term only on products that provide credible scientific documentation to back up that claim. In the US, there are currently no legal standards for its use.
– From Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris, 2012
Please note that although there is currently an exciting trend toward vegetarian (no flesh foods), vegan (no foods sourced from animals), and raw food diets, we list foods from both dairy and meat categories.
10 Really Super Foods
These ten are the “pick of the litter” when it comes to uniquely nutritious foods. In alphabetical order, they are —
Açaí berries Green Grasses & Algae
Aloe vera Nutritional Yeast
Bee products Soybeans
Dark Chocolate Tea
Eggs Whey Protein
Açaí Berries: In 2012, Nutrition News named açaí berry the Most Super Berry with its antioxidant power (ORAC) of 102,700! This wonderful reddish purple berry comes from a palm tree native to South America (Euterpe oleracea). It has significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. It also contains fiber and heart-healthy fats. Let’s put that in perspective: The next highest fruit is the black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), which has a very high ORAC value of 16,062. (Blueberries’ ORAC is 4669.)
Aloe Vera: Known as an external applicant for burns and other skin conditions, taken internally aloe vera can heal the intestines, support cholesterol management, and enhance immunity. Amazingly, only one percent of aloe is substantive. The remainder is water! That solid material contains over 75 different compounds, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, lignins, salicylic acid, antioxidants, and more.
Bee Products: When we think of bees, most of us think of honey. There is amazing news about honey. A recent issue of Women’s Health Letter carried the following headline: “The Worse Your Diabetes, The More This Sweetener May Lower Your Blood Sugar”. Editor-author Nan Fuchs, PhD, reports that honey helps lower blood sugar.
Dark Chocolate: The big news about chocolate hit in 2003 with research published by two prestigious science journals: Nature and JAMA. The article in Nature distinguished that only dark chocolate – not milk or white chocolate – raises antioxidant levels in the body.
Eggs: Eggs are here because they are a perfect protein for humans. In fact, at one time, eggs were the standard for protein foods. Eggs are nutrient dense. One egg has 6-7 grams of protein, lots of vitamins and minerals, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin – all for 70 calories.
Algae: called a perfect food, one that could be used to end world hunger. We are talking about spirulina, chlorella, and Klamath blue-green algae. Research has shown that these foods can increase our energy and stamina, heighten mental clarity, improve our ability to handle stress, enhance immunity, and give us a greater sense of well-being.
Green Grasses: the foundational food for most land-based life. The grasses came to light as human nutrition with the curative work of the late Ann Wigmore who originally expelled wheat grass juice using a second hand meat grinder. In 1980, barley grass came on the market when Yoshihide Hagiwara, MD, pharmacist, and researcher discovered its health benefits. These two grasses have similar nutrients and benefits. However, only wheat grass is readily available as fresh juice.
Nutritional Yeast: This great old school superfood is enjoying a comeback. Nutritional yeast is a protein and vitamin B12 boon for vegetarians and vegans. A complete protein, just one ounce of yeast flakes (about 2T) has only 79 calories but 14 grams of protein! (Compare with two eggs for 140 calories.) Rich in B-complex vitamins, it is one of the few non-animal sources of vitamin B12, essential for red blood cell production and nervous system health.
Soybeans: Soybeans are so common that we don’t think of them as super. BUT, they are. This versatile bean is a complete protein and as such is the basis for many protein-rich foods. These include soy as beans, roasted soybean snacks, soy milk, soy protein, tofu, tempeh, and meat analogs (made from texturized soy protein).
Tea: What other beverage is so healthy – and inexpensive? Tea, especially green tea, has been highly praised for its health benefits, which are largely due to its high antioxidant content. Benefits for lovers of green, black, and oolong teas include a lowered risk for heart disease. These teas help block the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, increase HDL, and improve artery function. In addition, a Chinese study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46-65% reduction in high blood pressure risk compared with non-tea drinkers.
Whey Protein: Not just for body builders, whey protein is ranked #1 among protein substances for digestibility. That alone is enough to grant it superfood status. Of course whey protein comes from milk, but did you know that it is produced as a co-product of cheese making? Bon appetit.
Siri Khalsa, Editor Nutrition News www.NutritionNews.com