So called ‘Superfoods’ offer more than just sustenance to those who consume them. This is a group of foods, collectively named for their high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and particularly antioxidants.
Whilst the various vitamins and minerals have individual functionality for health, antioxidants are those which specifically help to prevent and repair oxidative stress in the body, a process which damages cells and causes ageing. Oxidative stress is an inevitable occurrence, but the risk of associated onset of age-related diseases like cancer and heart disease can be reduced by avoiding habits that intensify oxidative stress, (excessive alcohol intake & smoking), and choosing a diet rich in antioxidants.
Blueberries are probably the most commonly referenced ‘Superfood’, however, for the sake of dietary variety, (and excitement!) Caryn Davies, Registered Dietician, recommends that a wide array of Superfoods be included in the diet. This is not only more nutritionally valuable, but a more practical approach to balanced, healthy eating. In order to obtain any realistic benefit from Superfoods, they have to be consumed regularly. Further, due to the fact that much of the scientific research on antioxidants has used food quantities not typically attainable in the context of a normal diet, the best way to ensure a meaningful antioxidant intake is to include lots of different Superfoods on a daily basis.
Other commonly quoted Superfoods include beans & legumes, assorted seeds, quinoa, soya, dark chocolate, various spices and the highly pigmented fruits & vegetables.
Fry’s favourite Superfoods include black beans, quinoa and chia, which have been cleverly combined into a scrumptious healthy bite and anti-ageing delight! The convenience of this will be especially appreciated by health fans and foodies who have discovered along their quest towards Super Health, that some Superfoods are hard to find and others, when eaten alone, can be decidedly bland and boring!
- Black beans are rich in antioxidants and provide a great vegetarian source of protein that is low in fat, high in fibre and cholesterol free.
- Quinoa, has similar properties and as a grain is considered to have superior nutritional value to traditional cereals, as it contains all of the essential amino acids found in animal proteins.
- Chia, which was a major food source of Aztec and Mayan diets, is a rediscovered grain, which now offers an ancient twist to the modern day healthy diet. The Chia plant is a member of the Mint family, and its seeds have been valued through centuries for food, medicine and oil.
Chia is not only a good source of antioxidants, but also has the highest concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids known to plants, followed by flaxseed, (the latter of which is better known, as it is more easily accessible.) Although less research has been conducted on the plant, as opposed to animal sources of omega 3s, emerging evidence suggests that consumption of plant based essential fatty acids may similarly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which makes chia a heart healthy choice for vegetarians who do not consume oily fish, (animal sources of omega 3 fatty acids.)
Unlike black beans and quinoa, chia is more difficult and expensive to obtain. However, with recent reflection and focus on the diet of hunter-gatherers, (who ate an enormous variety of plants and seeds), it is becoming an increasingly popular item on the ‘must-have’ pantry list!
At Fry’s, our thoughts on hunting are quite clear, but we will gladly continue to gather the good stuff from Nature for our Superfood Healthy Bites!
Reference: Caryn Davies (Independent Consultant Dietician) PR0840000250546