SUPER FOODS are many foods…
In RFD, we encounter curious people always asking intriguing questions. One that comes up a lot is do you serve SuperFoods?
In the last few years, exotic or rare super foods have made it into our marketplace and gained a great deal of popular attention from nutritionists and the media alike. I too, jumped on the bandwagon with interest and desire to eat the exotic super foods such as acai berries, raw cacao, coconut, and goji berries. These foods are very popular with people prescribing a raw or living food diet for optimum health and wellness, and advocates proclaim that they perform nutritional miracles such as increasing longevity and healing disease. While I am fortunate to have a large independent natural foods store in my community, which allows me to purchase most of these super foods in bulk, it always seemed a shame to me that the nutritional benefits of super foods might be limited to niche markets and specialty stores.
Fortunately, in recent years increased recognition has been given to commonplace Super Foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and teas—all of which are also rich sources of phytonutrients. These pantry-staples are jam packed with vital nutrients, vitamins, minerals and other things scientists probably haven’t even named yet. If everyone would just eat more of these foods everyday, there might never be a need for vitamin supplements!
What is a Super Food?
Super food is a term sometimes used to describe food with high phytonutrient content that may bestow health benefits as a result. One of the most important things you want to understand about super foods are they contain an exceptionally high nutrient content when compared to the amount of calories per serving. So that means a food such as spinach which is especially dense in iron is a super food. When eating spinach it means you’re getting the most out of every calorie you consume.
What is a phytonutrient?
The term “phyto” originated from a Greek word meaning plant. Phytonutrients are certain organic components of plants, and these components are thought to promote human health. Unlike the traditional nutrients (protein, fat, vitamins, minerals), phytonutrients are not “essential” for life, so some people prefer the term “phytochemical.”
How to Build A Super Food Pantry
Every specialist seems to have his or her top dozen super foods list. On my list, I’ve chosen to include the most common super foods that not only are accessible at your local grocery or natural food stores, but those that are affordable as well.
Avocados are a truly nutrient-dense food rich in monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Beans and legumes are low-fat plant proteins that are filled with fiber, B vitamins, minerals and phyto nutrients.
Blueberries have a synergy of multiple nutrients and phtyonutrients along with vitamins C and E and lots of minerals.
Crucifers such as kale and cabbage and especially broccoli are excellent sources of vegetarian iron.
Dark Chocolate contains flavonols, which are potent antioxidants.
Nuts and seeds contain a host of nutrients and mineral including protein, fiber and vitamin E. The fat in most nuts comes from heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Oranges are rich in vitamin C, a very potent antioxidant, which maintains the health of cells.
Pumpkin contains one of the richest supplies of carotenoids, which are deep orange-yellow, or red-colored, fat-soluble health- promoting compounds that occur in a variety of plants.
Soy has gotten a bad rap in the press. Whole soy, grown organically and free of GMOs is
perfectly find to eat within moderation. Soybeans are part of the legume family, but unlike other beans, soy has a complete protein profile, as well as a rich source of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants and is considered to be a rich source of iron.
Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and millet help stabilize blood sugar and insulin and may protect against heart disease. Whole grain foods are made with all three parts of a grain kernel: the bran, germ and endosperm unlike processed flours that do not have these three parts intact.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant shown to help stimulate the immune system and protect from disease. Lycopene is more highly concentrated in cooked tomato products than in fresh tomatoes.
You can see from this list that superfoods don’t have to be raw or live or just grown in the rainforest. These foods are available where ever you live or shop. This simple list is available to all. Enjoy cooking!
Ann Gentry, Founder and CEO (chief eating officer) @ RFD