“Superfoods”: Why Are They Better Than the Others?
Curcuma, broccoli, acai berries – every year the list of products that are recognized for their special properties is growing. Is the prefix “super” a guarantee of longevity and health or is it just a marketing move?
Today this term is often used by those who speak and write about health, nutrition, and beauty. “The very word superfoods has been used in English-Speaking countries since the late 1990s,” says nutritionist Lidia Ionova, head of the medical nutrition center Dr. Ionova’s Clinic. – However, it sounded mainly in advertising or press, often – in support of some other sensation, and because of not always conscientious use has been compromised in many ways. For example, in the European Union countries, it has been prohibited to write “superproduct” on packages since 2007, unless such naming is confirmed by serious scientific research.
What are we actually talking about? We know that “ordinary” fruits and vegetables are healthy, but some of them can also protect us from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, oncology… All plant foods are rich in valuable nutrients – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants. Plants have a lot of fiber, and it absorbs and removes toxins from the body like a sponge,” says nutritionist Anna Belousova. – In addition, plant fibers are the food for the “good” bacteria that live in the intestines and on which 70% of our immunity depends.
A distinctive feature of the “superproduct” or “superfoods” is the incredible amount of bioflavonoids. Behind this name are several hundred substances with different properties, but they all have one thing in common: they are all powerful antioxidants that help our body to combat oxidative stress that causes premature aging and cellular mutation. The more intense the color of the fetus, the more bioflavonoids it contains.
We sometimes want to believe that a wonderful fruit from the other side of the earth can solve all our health problems or make us 10 years younger … but it does not happen! Nutritionists insist that there is no reason to rely on exotic berries, fruits or biologically active additives based on them. Goji or acai berries are really useful, they have a lot of vitamins and antioxidants, but we know cranberries are not different from them – not to mention the fact that the fresh seasonal berry is certainly more useful than dried powder or industrially produced extract.
Indeed, spinach, peppers, beetroot, blackcurrant, garlic, and blackcurrant grow well in our region! It is only important to remember that no vegetable or fruit, even the most useful one, will become a magic potion for us. “Consumption of such products is not a cure-all, but a part of the healthy eating system,” says Anna Belousova. – Having seasoned the steak with turmeric once, we will get only a delicious dish. And only with daily use of this seasoning does it become a “superfood product”. In addition, the one whose menu is not balanced and monotonous, who has a lot of bad habits or lacks movement will not get a good effect. Thus, green tea really helps to reduce weight, but if you drink it with cakes and pastries, it is unlikely it will help to build up. Don’t wait for our food to have an instant effect – it accumulates gradually. If the first changes, perhaps, we feel in a few days, then steady results should be expected no sooner than in 3-4 months.
In the Amazon countries, this berry, rich in antioxidants and calcium, is considered to be an anti-aging agent and is also called the “Viagra of the Amazonian forests”, hoping that it can awaken male libido.
This Peruvian vegetable has a beneficial effect on the body during menopause and andropause: the alkaloids it contains contribute to the normalization of the hormonal background. The problem, however, is that only in the prepared poppy these alkaloids are harmless to the body (and this is the case with potatoes). It is not possible to determine whether the imported product is made from raw poppy or boiled foodstuffs as part of the bioadditives.
The juice of this growing fruit in Tahiti has many therapeutic properties that explain its main advantage – noni maintains immunity.
Acerola, or Barbados cherry
contains almost 30 times more vitamin C than orange, which helps to fight fatigue and stress, as well as tones without strain on the nervous system.
These caffeine-rich Amazonian berries give vigour, speed up the processing of lipids in the body… but they can also cause palpitations.
This red Asian berry (most often grown in China) is attributed all sorts of advantages. It also tones and prevents the appearance of neoplasms in the body, useful for the heart, liver, brain … But all this is not proved by anybody!
The Superheroes I Know
Shiitake – this tree fungus contains a substance that fights against cancer and degenerative cells. It also stimulates the reproduction and activity of immune cells, reduces cholesterol levels and regulates both male and female hormones. There is a reason to believe that oysters and more familiar to us forest mushrooms have similar properties – just shiitake much better studied.
Soybean – its protein composition is as close to the animal as possible. Soybeans contain phytoestrogens that help to maintain the hormonal background in women over 35 years of age, as well as reduce the risk of developing cancer of the uterus and breast.
It can be used little by little, but every day: add germinated beans or tofu soy curd to the salad, use soy sauce, milk or yogurt.
Curcuma is a yellow condiment in curry and contains curcumin, the most powerful anti-inflammatory agent known to science today. This natural antibiotic stimulates the immune system, improves digestion and intestinal microflora, prevents the formation of cancer cells. Ayurvedic medicine actively uses turmeric to eliminate any intestinal diseases. In India, it is considered an aphrodisiac for both men and women.
Every day at lunch and dinner you can add a pinch of turmeric powder to rice or potatoes, vegetable stew, salads, soups, season with it fish or meat. Its useful properties appear only when consumed for a long time every day – the Indians have it in use all their lives. Mix a pinch of turmeric with a pinch of ground black pepper and a teaspoon of olive oil to help your body understand turmeric.
Garlic contains the most powerful natural antiseptic allicin, which kills most viruses and bacteria, including influenza and acute viral infections. Garlic strengthens the walls of blood vessels, improves blood circulation, restores potency, reduces any inflammation in the body and helps control blood sugar levels. We need at least a slice of fresh garlic a day – preferably in the evening. Active ingredients are better absorbed if the garlic is shredded and mixed with a small amount of oil. Parsley, dill and lemon juice help neutralize its specific smell.
Spinach is a record-breaking vitamin B9, vitamin C and pro-vitamin A – a trio of heart health advocates. Spinach is also a supplier of lutein, which is antioxidant and healthy for the eyes. By the way, lutein is better absorbed by adding spinach to the egg dish.
Broccoli contains substances (sulforaphane, indole-3-carbinol and glucosinulate), which remove some carcinogens from the body, prevent the transformation of precancerous cells into tumors and destroy existing cancer cells. Broccoli also contains a lot of vitamin C – even after heat treatment it is twice as much as in oranges – and beta-carotene.
Green tea supplies our body with catechin, a powerful antioxidant and anticarcinogenic substance. Most catechin in Japanese varieties of sencha, giyokuro, match. It also improves metabolism, regulates blood pressure and stimulates detoxification. Thanks to the content of L-theanine amino acid, it also reduces the level of stress hormones, helping to relieve tension and concentrate at the same time.