Dietitian Chloe McLeod examines the popular notion of superfoods.
Kale. Acai. Goji berries.
What do they all have in common? They are all seriously hyped foods in the media, largely due to the health benefits such ‘superfoods’ provide.
But what are superfoods, and are they really super?
According to a quick online search, a superfood is ‘a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being’ .
The foods touted as being super are often hard to find, expensive and come from some far off land. Who hasn’t heard of food ‘X’ that comes from place ‘Y’, has been fermented in ‘Z’ and grown on ancient foreign lands?
So does it have to be organically grown goji berries fermented in organic camel milk from the Himalayas for people to get their nutrient fix?* Or is eating something much less exotic, but also much friendlier on the hip pocket and in terms of carbon footprint, just as good?
When I’m looking at if I’d consider a food to be ‘super’, I also take into consideration how easy it is for every day Australians to access; healthy eating is not easy and should not be marketed as being something elitist and expensive. Some of the healthiest products can be purchased for bargain-basement prices.
I also like to look at individual flavours. Not everyone likes the same foods, and if there is a similar food with similar health benefits that one of my clients prefers due to the flavour or texture, of course it is important I encourage them to eat the one they will enjoy.
Here are eight of my favourite, every day foods that one could consider to be super (based on the above definition):
- Brussels sprouts
- Extra virgin olive oil
What do these have in common?
They are all nutrient-dense, which means they contain a significant amount of micro-nutrients in each small bite, along with being a good source of macronutrients as well.
They provide a number of health benefits; for example, improvement of gut health, cognitive function, mental health, heart health, and all other systems.
You can also easily find each of these foods in any supermarket, making them accessible.
And, perhaps most importantly, I personally enjoy eating all of these.
Of course, the above list is not exhaustive; any fruit or vegetable can realistically be considered a superfood.
It can be beneficial for patients to take the time to think about some of their own superfoods; foods that are nutrients-dense and good for their health. But also foods that they can easily access and genuinely enjoy.
* This product is fictional.
This article was originally published on RACGP and has been adapted for dietitians