IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE, IT'S A SUPERFOOD! OR IS IT?
I MIGHT NEED SOME BETA-CAROTENE TO BE SURE
The reality is the term ‘superfood’ is not yet well defined. If you Google the term on the Internet you will see statements such as the following… superfoods:
While many of the above adequately describe many superfoods, some have trouble backing up their claim with science, a few may ‘cast their net too broadly’, and others fail to take into account individual circumstances and access.
At this stage, let’s define a superfood as:
Any food or beverage which contains concentrated amounts of nutrients that sets it apart from most other foods, and/or contains a wide array of nutrients beyond levels that most foods offer, and which appear to provide health benefits.
FOODS THAT HAVE A BIT OF A REP
We know you just want to know what to eat so you don't get sick and you live a long and healthy vital life. Ok, so let's first consider foods by antioxidant status as a criteria. We can define an antioxidant as compounds found within certain foods or can be produced in the body that protects us against damage to our cells and DNA. Antioxidants are believed to prevent some cancers, support a healthy immune system and heart, and slow the aging and degenerative processes in the body. What's not to love about them!
THE PICK OF THE BUNCH
What we do know for sure is that some foods pack more of a punch than others in terms of nutrient profile and beneficial compounds including antioxidants. When you pool the findings, there are some very definite superfood contenders.
ORAC RATING & ANTIOXIDANT STATUS
Take a look at the chart below, it's the ORAC rating of food groups. What's ORAC, you ask. Simple... the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity of a food. Just kidding, not so simple, essentially it's a measure of the antioxidant status of a food. However, it's really important to keep in mind that this measure is done in a lab and just how a food on its own, or in combination, acts when consumed by different individuals isn't easy to determine. Still, just as a snapshot we love the fact that herbs and spices, at least in a lab, completely blitz the field when it comes to ORAC level, with clove leading the way.
FOODS REPORTED TO BE HIGH IN VARIOUS ANTIOXIDANTS
If you follow us along you will have seen at least one of our posts about chai latte, now you know why!
THE FUNKY WORLD OF FUNCTIONAL FOODS
Before we sign off we wanted to touch on the topic of 'functional foods', given the huge and rapidly growing industry of 'food' it's worth considering this area. While there is no one agreed global definition of functional foods they are essentially foods that due to their inherent compounds have been scientifically shown to provide a positive health benefit, for example oats were recently shown to lower our risk of heart disease. Functional foods may prevent disease ranging from heart disease to inflammatory conditions and cancer, they may support immunity, protect cellular structures, improve cognitive functioning and support positive mental health.
It's suggested that we can group functional foods into five main groups:
FUNCTIONAL FOOD TRENDS
A 2011 UK (Sharma, 2010) report found that:
Clearly this is some dollars to be made in food production, so when you check out what's happen'en in the food industry, the major food trends appear to include:
So what indeed! What does all this mean? Well, if it's important to you to uncover the every hidden secret locked in food then rest assured the scientists are working hard. If you are like the rest of us and just want to know what you can eat that you can really, really enjoy, and that won't kill you, or even better will stop this happening, then the message is perhaps a little simpler.
Yep, eat lots of colourful, varied food that is close to its biological origin, sprinkle with a serving of love and laughter and make sure you jiggle about a bit. Deconstruct, reconstruct, it's all the same really, good ole fashion real food with lots of pretty colours, that taste super yummy and fill the tummy and soul.
Laugh hard, live long
Leanne and the Team at Cadence Health
02 9400 9759
We all have a role to play in community health, the only question is how do we play this role? Through intelligent, evidence-based inquiry we can understand how to health coach to support others in taking on positive behaviour change.