Superfoods Going Mainstream

An article in the print edition of USA Weekend caught my attention. Key to Your Shopping List: Superfoods.

As I said in the comment for the short article most people would question lentils or dates as qualifying for superfood status. Compare to spirulina or bee pollen, for example. Or quinoa.

Maybe it’s in what is the comparison. Eat a Twinkie or a few dates and walnuts. Hmmm?
Okay. Dates and walnuts are superfoods by comparison.

Another way to enhance your nutrition from your veggies is to grow them yourself.
Or, know someone who does and can share them.

A growing phenomenon of “market gardening” is bringing higher quality food to market.
You just have to find it. Try looking for gardening coops and food coops in your area.

In my area it’s Dunedin Harvest and New Port Richey who are active in this.

Quinoa the Super Grain of the Andes

The first time I cooked quinoa I was amazed at how the little rounds grain unfurled into a spiral. Then, the nut-like flavor way surpassed my expectations.

Still, I was a little impatient with the need to rinse the grains to avoid bitterness. You don’t have to do that with rice.

Now we have the updated info from a real expert, Carolyn Hemming.

Açai and the Dangers of the Monodiet

We all want the nutritional silver bullet. We want that one supplement that will solve all our nutritional concerns.

I believe that accounts for the emerging popularity of single foods to take care of a health problem. The most widespread [pun warning] concern is overweight. That one problem attracts more one food solutions than any other.

The most extreme form of this obsession is the monodiet. This means you eat only one food for a short period of time. And short is the governing principle here.

The grapefruit diet, the watermelon diet, the grape cure…any of these sound familiar?

No one expects to be on one food for a long period of time. It’s just a temporary expedient to achieve a short term goal.

That’s why I question the philosophy of one superfood to take care of everything. Or even to handle a particular problem on an ongoing basis.

I believe there is a saturation effect. Sure, you may get a boost in the short term. but, after a while, the inherent imbalance in your diet and metabolism will catch up with you.

The Açai Berry

This açai berry is one of the marvels discovered in the Amazon rainforest. Having a featured role on Oprah has launched it into orbit.

Marketed as a weight loss product, it has more to offer.

Some of the benefits associated with the  açai berry are:

  • increased energy
  • improved digestion
  • antioxident effect
  • improved skin appearance
  • reduced cholesterol
  • improved sexual experience
  • better sleep

It’s possible that the last benefit follows naturally from the next to last.

The ideal processing of the berries uses the same low temperature drying that other superfoods have in preparing them for market. Liquifying it means some form of pasturization. And that means goodby enzymes.

There are supplements like Nuriche that have açai in them along with other beneficial superfoods. That makes sense to me. A balanced supplement of an array of superfoods will not throw you off balance and set up a dangerous situation.

Common sense, for me, means adopting a program that you can live with.

Define “Superfoods”

I’ve always thought of superfoods as those whole foods that are very high in bioavailable nutrients.

Another way to say it is, you can live on superfoods.

Here’s what Wikipedia says:
Superfood is a term sometimes used to describe food with high phytonutrient content that some may believe confers health benefits as a result. For example, blueberries are often considered a superfood (or superfruit) because they contain significant amounts of antioxidants, anthocyanins, vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber. [1] However, the term is not in common currency amongst dieticians and nutritional scientists, many of whom dispute the claims made that consuming particular foodstuffs can have a health benefit[2] There is no legal definition of the term and it has been alleged that this has led to it being over-used as a marketing tool.[3]

That’s what I call faint praise indeed. I suspect that the definition was shaped by Big Ag and the Pharmaceutical Industry.

The purpose of their definition is to invalidate or cast doubt. I don’t know if that is really a fair approach.

Here is what Graci and Diamond say:
Superfood the most nutrient-rich and completely absorbable food in any classification of protein, carbohydrates, fat or fiber;

contains powerful antioxidants, disease-preventing phytochemicals, and a wide range of colors;

allows the body a supply of balanced energy and supports accellerated healing;

examples are …spirulina, phosphatidyl choline, alfalfa, barley, and wheat grasses, milk thistle, and …green tea.

I don’t know about phosphatidyl choline, but I’ve eaten all the other items.