Superfoods – so what’s really in the name?

Every year we are bombarded with the so called new “superfood” of the year. Ranging from pomegranate, blue berries, goji berries … and we can continue to add more. These come with many claims for cures to many diseases – the question is

– How true is this?
– Is it worth the price I pay for the so called “superfood”
– What entitles them to this title and do they really have additional nutrients that make them superior to other foods?

Let’s focus on Fruit & Veggies.

Definitions That You Need To Know

Free Radical
Any chemical that has an un-natural charge on it. The abnormal charge makes the chemical react when it isn’t supposed to in your body. The removal of the free radical is done by an antioxidant.

Antioxidant
This is any chemical that can offer or take an extra electron from any free radical. The more stable the chemical is after reducing a free radical relates to how powerful of an antioxidant is. The stronger antioxidants also have to do with their strength on exchanging electrons with the free radicals.
Some powerful antioxidants like Vitamin E, are large molecules and can break down several free radicals and also be recharged to provide this ability again and again.

Antioxidant Facts
 The effects of long-term use and high concentrations of antioxidants have not been proven scientifically.
 Using natural sources for your antioxidants is better than taking a pill.
 Your body will absorb the natural vitamin much faster and more complete than the pill.
 Eating foods in their most raw and natural state is the best way to retain the maximum absorption of antioxidants.
 Water is necessary to allow the antioxidants the ability to work.

Nature’s Colour Wheel

Here is a breakdown of nature’s colour wheel and the benefits that each colour might provide, according to the National Cancer Institute.
 Reds
 Tomatoes, raspberries, red bell peppers, red grapes, beets and pomegranates are packed with antioxidants that may help fight cancer and protect memory.
 Oranges / Yellows
 Cantaloupes, carrots, mango, sweet potatoes and winter squashes contain beta carotenes that enhance the immune system. Many also contain components that can lower the risk of heart attacks.
 Greens
 Spinach, green grapes, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli and Brussels sprouts packed with lutein might play a critical role in maintaining eye health. Green fruits and vegetables also might reduce the risk for some types of cancers.
 Blues / Purples
 Blueberries, blackberries, raisins, eggplants and plums. Red wine is also a good source of anthocyanins. Wine contains resveratrol, which can prevent heart disease by increasing levels of good cholesterol and protecting against arterial damage. However make sure you drink in moderation.

Cooking by Colour – some top tips

 With red foods, such as tomatoes, heat is important for optimal lycopene absorption because it breaks down the cell wall to unleash potency.
 Overcooking kills nutrients in green foods, such as broccoli. If you do cook it, lightly sauté or steam. Never microwave broccoli because the intense heat drains all of the nutrients. The same goes for boiling; you’ll notice your water turns green. The colour is where all the nutrients are. Chop florets in half or quarters to get the healthful enzymes to emerge. Artichokes are one of the only foods that stand up to the cooking process and maintain nutrients if cooked.
 It’s best to cook carrots whole; cutting them allows more nutrients to escape. When making sweet potatoes, bake, broil and/or steam. Further, the nutrients are contained when the potato is cooked in its own skin, so resist the urge to peel!

So it is quite simple to see that eating a variety of fruit and veggies in your diet will provide you with antioxidants and a balance of nutrients you may need. Keep it colourful and avoid overcooking veggies as you decrease the nutritional value.

If you have any disease condition eg diabetes, gout, heart disease etc it is highly recommended that you get a dietitian to work out a tailor made plan to meet your requirements. At Easy Health Wellness in Moreleta Park our dietitian can assist you with a plan to get you on the road to great health. Our clinic is located on Rubenstein Street and our contact no is 012 997 2783.