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Food & Nutrition

Is There Really Such A Thing As A Superfood?

We're told they’re anti-oxidant rich miracle foods that help stave off disease and infection, and keep us in good health. But do superfoods really exist??

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s a giant blueberry flying in to protect your body  against infection, disease and stress… Sounds a tad unbelievable huh? But these are the claims bandied about in relation to superfoods.

The common denominator is antioxidants, known to fight evil free radicals, that make us old and ill

The term was coined in the early 90s when Michael Van Straten, an alternative medicine practitioner, co-wrote a book called Superfoods. The book listed a number of foods and set them apart as ‘super’ due to their high nutritional content. While every food had its own specific benefits, the common denominator was antioxidants, known to fight evil free radicals, that make us old and ill.

But can these foods live up to the claims and is it worth paying a premium for them? Canadian researcher Wilhelmina Kalt warns to take claims with a pinch of salt. “The antioxidant story has been thoroughly redressed in the last five years or so,” she says. “Originally it was thought that the antioxidants in superfoods really boosted our ability to fight oxidative stress in the body. But we’ve now found out that our bodies already do a great job of this on their own.”

Gwyneth Paltrow has been chugging down charcoal drinks – apparently it gives you amazing skin

According to Wilhelmina,  Gwyneth Paltrow might be chugging down charcoal drinks (apparently it gives you amazing skin), but a ‘super’ diet is as simple as eating a healthy and varied range of foods including plenty of colourful fruit, veg and whole grains. Think of them as super if it helps, just don’t think of them as miracle workers.

6 Foods That Live Up To The Hype

1. Cinnamon

The bark of cinnamon contains active elements cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, all of which provide various health benefits. They’re known to prevent blood clots, reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, improve colon health, enhance memory and cognitive ability, and hinder the growth of bacteria.

2. Avocado

A great source of folate, avocado can boost your heart health as well as your body’s ability to repair cells, minimising the effects of ageing. The fruit’s potassium provides electrolytes to maintain hydration and increases energy by aiding in the transfer of nutrients to cells. Also a source of monounsaturated fat (the healthy kind), avocados decrease the cholesterol that is associated with stroke and heart attack.

3. Spinach

Spinach is the ultimate superfood with more than 20 nutrients including fibre, vitamins K and A, manganese, folate, magnesium, calcium, and protein. Its antioxidants contain cancer-fighting properties while vitamin C and beta-carotene improve heart health by preventing cholesterol oxidation.

4. Kale

Yep, it’s the hipster’s superfood, but for good reason. The vitamin A and C in kale is great for your skin and can slow down premature ageing. It also contains lutein, a nutrient that is extremely beneficial to your body, aiding your complexion and brightening the whites of the eyes. No, really, the whites of your eyes.

5. Eggs

It used to be thought that too many eggs were bad for your cholesterol, but in recent years this myth has been debunked and we’re free to have as many of the buggers in our omelette as we please. Full of high-quality proteins and essential vitamins and minerals, eggs are a compact package of nutrition that are cheap, tasty and convenient.

6. Blueberries 

In addition to containing little fat and very few calories, the fibre found in blueberries is able to efficiently curb hunger and thus promote digestion while the antioxidants defuse cancer-causing free radicals. It doesn’t end there. Oh no, vitamin C also helps to produce collagen to aid in the repair of damaged cells and anthocyanins that are believed to reduce inflammation and blood pressure. Yep, blueberries are pretty damn serious.

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