The term ‘superfood’ is tossed around a lot these days – but what are superfoods and can they make us healthy? We’ve looked at a few and given the lowdown.
This little berry has risen to celebrity status over recent years. It’s been found to be high in vitamins, fibre and flavonoids. Flavonoids in blueberries may help with circulation and reduce heart disease risk in some people, but so might other berries, so our verdict is, don’t just stop at blueberries.
Kale is loaded with nutrients vitamin A, C and K, calcium, zinc and folate, and also carotenoids, which are anti-inflammatory. Should we be eating lots of kale? Most dark leafy vegetables (like spinach) have similar benefits and are also believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. So, if you’re keen, keep it (dark) green.
Apart from being a great source of protein, salmon is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which can reduce risks of heart disease and stroke. Other fatty fish like sardines and mackerel offer benefits too. Fish may contain contaminants – like mercury – but the consensus is that the benefits of omega 3 outweigh the risks. If you’re worried, choose small fish over big fish as the higher up the food chain, the more likely fish is to be contaminated.
Of course. We love it and we love that it’s good for us. See Live well: Eat Chocolate! for all the reasons to indulge.
Protein: tick. Gut health and digestion: tick. Calcium for strong bones: tick. Vitamin D is also important to help absorb calcium so for added benefits look for yoghurt with Vitamin D. If you don’t do dairy, then coconut yoghurt is a good alternative. Throw some fruit in (some berries perhaps?) and you’re onto a winning recipe.
A source of another good fat – monounsaturated – extra virgin olive oil is claimed to fight heart disease and cancer, and to be good for our brains. It also contains oleocanthal, which is anti-inflammatory. Check the label – some oils that claim to be ‘extra virgin’ are diluted with other oils.
Full of high-quality protein and packed with nutrients like B vitamins, iron and selenium, eggs also contain antioxidants – zeaxanthin and lutein – which are good for our eyes. Historically eggs have been the cholesterol bad guys, but more recent research has been kinder to the humble old egg – eggs may even raise our ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. As with all food, eggs are best consumed in moderation.
Superfoods for Seniors
We chatted with Chorus RAS Assessor Frances Sheehan about nutrition for seniors (More than a meal podcast out 16 July) and her top nutritional tips were calcium and Vitamin D.
“Dairy, milk, cheese, yogurts, canned fish with soft bones are fantastic,” said Frances. “Salmon…tuna and dark green leafy veg, like your kale, your silver beet and your spinach are fantastic sources.”
Frances also recommends omega-3 fatty acids, particularly for their anti-inflammatory properties. “They’re great for reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis,” she added. “They also help with macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. So if people can aim for two serves of fish per week – oily fish like your salmon, your tuna and your sardines, that’s fantastic.”
Looks like superfoods are super for everyone.