The diet avengers
With everyone making New Year's resolutions around their diet, the word "superfoods" is one that you'll hear often.
EAT RIGHT. Highly pigmented fruit and vegetables are a healthy choice. Picture: www.sxc.hu.
Superfoods refers to a group of foods, collectively named for their high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and, particularly, antioxidants.
While various vitamins and minerals have individual functionality for health, antioxidants specifically help to prevent and repair oxidative stress in the body, a process that 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 and smoking) and choosing a diet rich in anti-oxidants.
Blueberries are the most commonly referenced superfood – but for the sake of dietary variety, dietician Caryn Davies recommends a wide array of such foods be included in your diet. “It is a more nutritionally valuable and practical approach to balanced, healthy eating,” she says.
To benefit from superfoods, they have to be consumed regularly. Most scientific research on antioxidants has used food quantities not typically attainable in a normal diet.”
Other superfoods include beans, assorted seeds, quinoa, soya, dark chocolate and highly pigmented fruit and vegetables. Getting hold of it can be tricky, but Fry’s Family Foods has brought out black bean, quinoa and chia bites.
Black beans are rich in antioxidants and provide a great vegetarian source of protein that is low in fat, fibre and is 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.
Chia is a heart healthy choice for vegetarians who do not consume oily fish.
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.