health

Decoding super foods: Things you must know

They are easily available, don’t cost a fortune and best of all, taste wonderful

17:00 July 22, 2017

1. Chia seeds

Packed with fibre and Omega 3 fatty acids, this little seed can help regulate appetite. 
How much: 1 tbsp a day is sufficient for most people. 
Best way to consume: Add to a large glass of water and leave for 2 hours for it to reach its hydrophilic potential. Can also be added to cereals and bakes.

2. Eggs

Quality protein and choline which the brain uses to improve memory and learning . 
How much: 6-8 a week is safe. Plenty of benefits without cholesterol worries. 
Best way: Boiled, scrambled, omelette with plenty of veggie topping.

3. Broccoli

Packed with calcium, protein, chlorophyll, magnesium, Vitamin C, fibre, and much more. Fiber and iron rich, this vegetable definitely punches above its weight. 
How much: 4 times a week, or 10 cups, is a good starting point. 
Best way: Stir fry, steam, bake — add to entrees.

4. Berries

Antioxidants, flavonoids to protect your body from free radical and oxidative damage. Prevents plaque build-up in heart and brain. Great for skin and an anti-ageing food. 
How much: 2 to 3 small cups of berries a week. 
Best way: Fresh or as puree, added to shakes or juices.

5. Turmeric

The curcumin in turmeric has shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. 
How much: 1 to 2 grams if using the root or 2 to 3gms if using high-quality turmeric powder. 
Best way: Raw grated turmeric can added to black tea. Most curries have a pinch of turmeric powder to enhance flavour and colour.

6. Avocados

Loaded with potassium and fibre, high content of B vitamins and Vitamin E. 
How much: 2-3 avocados per week, depending on body weight (excess can result in weight gain). 
Best way: Raw (check for ripeness). In guacomole, for instance.

7. Dark chocolate

Boosts mood due to presence of phenylethyamine and amino acid tryptophan, both of which release serotonin, the happy hormone. 
How much: 1 small square a day.

8. Salmon, mackerel, sardines

Rich in omega 3, heart healthy, bone healthy and skin healthy.
 How much: Twice a week, up to 300gms a week. 
Best way: Grill, poach, steam, bake.

9. Spinach and kale

High levels of folate, phytochemicals, niacin,zinc, vitamins A, C,E, K calcium and iron. Great for hair and skin. 
How much: 2 cups 3 times a week. Alternate the two.
 Best way: Have them raw in salads, smoothies, or lightly steamed or stir fried.

10. Green tea

Loaded with polyphenols, flavonoids, catechises which are all antioxidants and help fight diseases. Always chose good brand of green teas. The lower quality ones may not be as beneficial and may contain excessive fluoride. 
How much: 2 to 3 cups of green tea a day in between meals. Boosts metabolism, protects your brain and keeps you alert.

11. Almonds

High in Vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids , proteins and fibre. manganese strengthen bones and controls blood sugar dips. 
How much: 8-9 a day. 
Best way: Soaked overnight. Easier to digest.

12. Garlic

Contains allicin and selenium which helps in liver cleansing and reducing bad cholesterol.

How much: Raw cloves 2-3 a day. 
Best way: Raw in the morning. Cooked garlic has less healing potential as do garlic pills and powder.

13. Grapefruit

Vit C, pectin and glutathione which neutralise free radicals, keep liver clean. 
How much: 2 grapefruits a week.

14. Beetroot

High in flavonoids and beta carotene are natural blood purifiers and support liver function. 
How much: 200 gms a day, twice a week.
Best way: steam them, boil them, juice them.

15. Natural yoghurt

Good source of natural calcium and probiotics, for digestion and gut health. 
How much: 150-180gms per day.
 Best way: Straight from the pot.

16. Lemon

Vitamin C in lemons help liver produce enzymes that aids digestion. 
Best way: Drink hot water with lemon juice in the morning. Squeeze lemon over salads, soups and veggies for better iron absorption.

17. Oats

High in soluble fibre and low glycemic index carbs. 
How much: 30-40gms daily, upto 200 gms a week.
Best way: Slow cook them with cinnamon, top with fruits, seeds and yoghurt or even vegetables.

18. Pomegranate

Great source of iron, fibre, Vit A, C, E . 
How much: 1 cup of pomegranate pearls at least twice a week.

19. Goji berries

Excellent source of amino acids vitamin A and C and iron. Boosts immunity, anti-inflammatory. 
How much: up to 100 gms, 2-3 times a week. Best way: Add to salads or brew in water like tea. Drink the tea and chew the berries to get rid of pimples and pigmentation.

 

Is everything that's claimeda bout super foods true?

Dubai: Get up, close and personal with super foods - the myths surrounding them and the health benefits

Can foods still be categorised as super foods and regular foods?

Super foods is a relatively new term, often used for food items that are nutrient-dense and the specific nutrient composition has better bio-availability, which means that the body can utilise and absorb the nutrients easily.

When we talk about ‘regular foods’, that constitutes of almost all other food items that should be consumed in a complementary way.

Are some foods more equal than others?

Just as some individuals are naturally physically stronger or taller, certain food items have better density for particular nutrients. Nutrients’ usability for humans is not something nature sets priorities for, but our research enhances understanding and hence, some foods have been classified as super foods.


 The term ‘super foods’ is subjective. The benefits of certain food groups are more pronounced than others, and this too varies from individual to individual.”

 - Mitun De Sarkar, Clinical dietitian


Super foods rating keeps changing after every few years. Why?

In the field of nutrition, many proponents jump the gun, that is, they have limited research done to back their claims. After further research, in a few cases, it is found that the earlier claims were possibly exaggerated and hence the list is amended..

Hype surrounding super food can be confusing. Example, chia seeds. What exactly are they good for?

It is true that some nutrient-dense foods get a lot of coverage for their purported health benefits. As mentioned, there are nutrient-rich foods that can provide health benefits when consumed as a part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

For example, the fibre content and hydrophilic properties of chia seeds make it an excellent addition to water for individuals who want to add more fibre to their diets and it also helps to regulate appetite.

What’s the truth about quinoa?

Quinoa is a fantastic grain with [great] health benefits. It is an excellent alternative to individuals with gluten intolerance. It has higher protein content than rice or barley; it is also a very good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese. It also possesses good levels of several B vitamins, vitamin E and dietary fibre. It has a great nutrition profile.

If I do not always include super foods, will my health suffer?

The term ‘super foods’ is subjective. The benefits of certain food groups are more pronounced than others, and this too varies from individual to individual. For example, even though broccoli is a super food — due to its nutrient-dense properties — it is not suitable for individuals with thyroid disorders or high levels of uric acid.

The best way to figure out what super foods you can consume is to seek a professional’s advice based on your requirements.

Can eating super foods alone make you healthy?

No food group can be sufficient on its own to ensure good health and well-being. A balanced approach is necessary and exercise and good lifestyle are the basic building blocks of good health. Super foods are definitely not a magical way of reaching optimum health and fitness levels, although they can be used effectively to help you get there.

If I eat super foods and junk food, will the two cancel each other out?

Definitely not. Junk food is classified as junk not only due to empty calories and almost no nutritional value, [ but] in some cases, the methods of preparation and the ingredients used can be downright detrimental to health.

Do super foods have to be organic?

Organic ensures that there are low levels of additives. However, a better indicator is if the level of pesticide used is low. It’s harder to determine that, hence it is imperative that any raw nutrient-rich food should be washed properly before consumption.

How can children be made to eat super foods?

Make them a part of everyday diet. Introduce these foods in small portions for their palates to adjust. Sneak them in by adding small quantities to their favourite foods. For example, add chia seeds to a homemade cake.

 

My favourite super foods

Corine Hallett, Mauritius

“What I know is that super foods are considered better than other foods. I don’t know all the super foods, but to my knowledge, kale, broccoli spinach, and blueberries are high in nutrients. I try to strike a balance when planning meals. They will contain carbs, protein, fibre and of course vitamins. We love to eat kale, broccoli, spinach and green beans. There is always a side dish accompanying our steak which would include mashed potatoes and anything with fibre. I like to steam broccoli, carrot and beans and eat it with my carbs. It’s important to consume something that cleanses the body.”

Sanya Z, 35, Eastern Europe

“I’m not familiar with the term super foods. Usually, I try to include nutrient-rich foods five times a week in my meal planning. Some of my favourites include: salmon, quinoa, different kinds of vegetables, gluten-free cereal, low- fat yogurt and fresh fruit juices. I don’t think we can classify which vegetable or fruit is better than the other because it depends on the person and what the person needs or prefers. People who have low iron in the body need to have certain vegetables that are rich in iron. So, I don’t believe there should be a list. Nuts cannot be a super food for people who have allergy and the same with other foods.”

Sara Boriyawala, Indian

“I know that super foods are foods that are high in antioxidants and keep you away from cancer or other diseases. All kinds of berries are popular super foods as are avocado and nuts. I try to have a wide range of foods as part of my family’s diet. Berries are always used in smoothies for breakfast. Oats, banana, nuts soaked overnight and eaten the next day, avocado at least thrice a week as guacamole or sliced in sandwiches... I would say dark chocolate, nuts and berries are my favourite super foods.”

Rania Farah, doctor from Jordan

“I ate many super foods to lose weight about three years ago. Since then, I have made sure to include foods that pack nutrients. For instance, my husband and I eat avocadoes every day, and also yoghurt, eggs and lentils. I eat dark chocolate for a treat. We also enjoy quinoa, use garlic for cooking, and plenty of nuts like almond in our dishes. Fruits like pomegranate and apples are also part of our Iftar.

A few super foods I have never eaten are acai, goji berries, kale and grapefruit.

Kimberley Rabideau, mother-of-one from US

“We try to keep our food healthy in Ramadan, and not go overboard with the eating. So super foods, even less commonly eaten ones like chia seeds and flax, are quite common in our meals. We also have a lot of fruits in Ramadan, including all kinds of berries, apples and avocadoes. Lentil soup is always part of iftar, and I use coconut oil to cook with. We also include yoghurt in our meals, and garlic. Though, I don’t fancy grapefruit, and haven’t tried goji berries.

Reem Sabry, media specialist from Egypt

“We regularly include many ‘super foods’ in our Ramadan diet, especially as I am trying to encourage healthy eating habits in my three-year-old.

Lately, I’ve started including quinoa in salads. We also have avocados and other greens. I’m trying to incorporate coconut oil in my cooking.

Salmon and lentils are also a part of our meal plans, and we snack on almonds and fruits, including apple. And lemons are a staple in Egyptian cuisine.”