What is a superfood?
A superfood is a term used to describe a food with the most potent nutrient rich properties. Superfoods are a major focal point of nutrition due to their claimed health benefits. It’s suggested that superfoods, help lower cholesterol, reducing risk of heart disease and cancer, and improve mood. But is this all a myth or are superfoods really super? The term superfood has been used in the media for a number of years and with no legal definition of the term it has led to it being overused as a marketing term.
Many of these “super” foods are good for your heart and overall health when incorporated into a healthy balanced diet containing protein, whole grains, fruits, low fat milk and dairy products. Some people can be unrealistic about their food choices, thinking that by including one or two of these foods into a poor diet that they will be protected from chronic diseases. There is no one food you should be consuming to help prevent you from a specific ailment; all “superfoods” should be eaten and together with a balanced diet can help protect the body.
Antioxidants in superfoods
Our bodies can become susceptible to a number of different infections and diseases. Substances called free radicals (free roaming oxygen’s) are produced in our body during metabolism. These free radicals can be formed in the body to neutralise a virus or bacteria, environmental factors like pollution, alcohol, and smoking can also lead to the formation of free radicals. Our bodies can handle free radicals by means of antioxidants provided in our food; but if antioxidants are unavailable, free radicals can cause cell damage. This can lead to an individual being more susceptible to cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancers, and premature aging. Antioxidants are the main molecule that gives superfoods their name, protecting cells from harmful free radicals by blocking their activity. The best known antioxidants are Vitamin C and E and Carotenoids; these are all present in “superfoods”.
Evidence that superfoods are beneficial
There is evidence from laboratory experiments that superfoods are beneficial but the quantities which need to be ingested are not realistic in everyday life. For example garlic is said to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol; however this theory is biased on an experiment were a dose of 28 cloves of garlic a day was consumed. This is just not achievable by the average person.
- Green Tea
Next week I will look more in-depth into the foods which claim to be super foods and what makes them so beneficial.
Whelehans Nutrition Service
Whelehans nutritional service is a private one to one advice service with our nutritionist Aisling Murray. Aisling’s areas of interest include weight loss management, nutrition education and food intolerance. Our nutrition service offers you the chance to change your life in a positive way by focusing on your overall wellbeing as well as the chance to follow up on your progress.
Aisling Murray has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and offers a one to one specialist nutrition service at Whelehans Pharmacy. Call Whelehans at 04493 34591 for an appointment. Aisling’s Nutriton Clinic costs only €10 per week.
This article is shortened to fit within newspaper space limits. More detailed information and leaflets are available in Whelehans.