Demystifying Superfoods: Misconceptions of the Super-Nutrient
From kale to goji berries, acai and maca powder. These are some of the more exotic superfoods that have burst onto the health food scene and bandied about in nutrition circles in recent years. However, as the superfood trend has increased, so too has the confusion around what actually constitutes a superfood.
According to a recent health study1, nearly three-quarters of Australians (73%) don’t understand what superfoods are, despite their soaring popularity and quickly becoming one of the most hyped health food trends in recent years.
Resident dietitian Kate Save said that there is a common misconception that superfoods are limited to rare and exotic nutrients that are not widely accessible to the average grocery shopper.
“What many don’t know and are often surprised to find out, is that many superfoods are in fact everyday foods, readily available in supermarkets and are more than likely already staples on your weekly shopping lists.
What is a Superfood?
“Quite simply, a superfood is a nutrient-rich food considered especially beneficial for health and wellbeing. They are packed with antioxidants as well as key vitamins and minerals, and can be found across a broad range of everyday foods,” she adds.
“And contrary to popular belief, superfoods are surprisingly easy to incorporate into daily meals. For many, it’s simply a matter of knowing what superfoods are,” says Save.
“In fact, if you’re following a healthy, balanced diet, you’re likely already cooking up a superfood storm on a regular basis, you just don’t know it,” she says.
Want to supercharge your diet with everyday superfoods? Read on for the surprising superfoods you didn’t know about:
Fruit & vegetables:
- Mushrooms: in addition to high nutrient density, funghi have the unique ability to produce Vitamin D. Pop in the sun for an hour before consuming
- Red apples: skin pigment packs a punch with plenty of antioxidants and is known for its cancer fighting compounds
Super meats & seafood:
- Consider lean, white meats such as turkey (high in protein) and pork (known for its B vitamins)
- Salmon remains the seafood of choice with the highest levels of Omega 3
Eggs & dairy:
- Eggs are a protein powerhouse packed with plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are a rare source of lutein (a carotenoid that may reduce the risk of cataracts or blindness) and researchers continue to undercover new antioxidant properties in egg yolks
- Cottage cheese: super high in protein, this cultured dairy can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Substitute in place of cream, feta, ricotta or other binding products
Nuts, oils and super spices:
- Walnuts contain a high dose of Omega 3 fatty acid ALA which helps keep you feeling full for longer and may help lower cholesterol levels
- Opt for extra virgin olive oil (high in antioxidants) for cooking. Flaxseed oil is perfect for dressing salads
- Cinnamon is one of the most well-known super spices and may enhance or regulate blood sugar levels to help manage diabetes
- Spelt is one of the most versatile ancient grains and readily available in the supermarket. It’s highly soluble (meaning key nutrients can be absorbed into the body quickly) and a great substitute for rice in risotto, pasta, added to salad or even to make a light, highly nutritious loaf of bread
Kate Save is an accredited Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist. She has been engaged by Sanofi to provide regular expert commentary for Diabetes-Care. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the view of Sanofi.
1Research was conducted by the Online Research Unit on behalf of Sanofi between 12 – 16 September, 2014 and surveyed 1,000 Australians nationwide.