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Superfoods: This seems to be a word that is floating around everywhere these days. It has almost super-saturated the market! Since I get questioned about superfoods almost daily, it seemed like an appropriate time to tackle this subject.
I feel like the beginning of the superfood craze here in America was with blueberries. Before this little berry became even more popular here for its massive nutritional benefits, the word superfood wasn’t a household name. With the marketing craze of the blueberry being a “superfood” it was then added into every bloody thing you could get your hands on. Some of the benefits of blueberry happen to be a standard across the board for foods that are considered “superfoods.” These things include:
- High in antioxidants
- Immune system boosting
- Fights Cancer
- Lowers Cholesterol
- Increases oxygenation to the blood
Since blueberry hit the market here in such abundance and really stuck with the general populace, there have been a plethora of other “superfoods” to be part of the hype. One of my favorites is chia, because it is so diverse and is so packed with nutrients!
Helen has a very in depth, yet easy to understand article on all of the benefits of chia, that I think you should check out.
Some of the plethora of superfoods include, but are not limited to:
- Greek Yogurt
- Tart Cherries
- Green Tea
Take these for what you will, but they are all ultimately good choices to add into the normal rotation of your diet. These are all really great things for our longevity and quality of life.
Are Superfoods really that new?
It is obviously a marketing ploy to get consumers excited about something they were previously unaware of and spend more money with the advent of the term “superfoods.” Duh! Superfoods as a genre was genius, if you ask me. But on the opposite side of the same coin, they make people spend more money on foods that have really been around for a long time.
For the most part, all of these superfoods have been around for centuries and centuries. What really happened was the homogenization of our western diet. By this I mean that we systematically weeded out products that we didn’t think the masses liked in favor of a less diversified diet and crops. This is a much longer story, probably for another article all together, but we not only did this for monetary purposes and to increase production in farming, thereby stripping the land of vital nutrients.
It appears that we have slowly started to learn from our mistakes and are now trying to fix the woes of the past generations. This is an extremely slow process, but one that is being pushed by the introduction of superfoods, as well as the organic and local movements.
Superfoods on the Horizon
There are some foods that I consider superfoods solely because they belong in the exact same genre based upon their nutritional composition. These foods have been around for centuries as well, we have just forgotten about their “super” benefits. I want you to keep an eye out for the following and if they do hit the market as “superfoods” soon, then you know I called it!
This has been one of my favorite foods for well over a year now. I found out about it from one of my local farmers at the market on a sunny Saturday. Ever since that day, I and my whole family, have loved it. It has actually been around for centuries and is used in eastern culture for a myriad of health issues. One of the main things that burdock is noted for is its treatment of some cancers. Oh yeah, and it also used to be used to make beer before the discovery of the hop! I like to cube the root up with local organic potatoes and some kohlrabi and toss it with some olive oil and spices. It is always a big hit!
These little guys are always seen as nothing but a nuisance around here. But in all actuality, dandelions are a powerhouse of nutrients that we have simply forgotten about. We now treat them like a weed but their leaves pack more punch than most of the “superfood” greens that we are used to. I have slowly started seeing them more and more in some of the local restaurants that are on the cutting edge of what is in our food as opposed to what it looks like.
This is one that I am really waiting to hit the market like hot cakes, especially here in the south where it grows like wild fire! We have so much kudzu here and it it can grow up to 1 foot a day, depending on the rain, that we really just have no idea what to do with it. I do know of some people who pick it to make jelly, but I can’t say that I am a fan. We have made salad out of it and my favorite is to bake it like kale chips. It has a similar flavor but packed with so many more nutrients! One of the popular ways to prepare it is to dig up the root and make a tea out of it. I am really surprised that this hasn’t hit the market yet with the huge abundance of it as well as the low maintenance involved in the growing process.
This is one that I have been using for years. I found out about it quite a while ago as a good supplement to wheat for my gluten free diet. This grain originates in Ethiopia and is used in some of their traditional dishes. I have seen Teff a bit more in the past few years but am still waiting for it to catch fire. I say this because the texture is one of the closest that I have found to wheat. However, it has so many more nutrients, including being incredibly high in iron, so it is great to ingest prior to a workout.
Overall, superfoods can be great additions to your diet for health reasons, but just don’t follow the hype. Do your own research. There are plenty of foods that are local and free that are also “superfoods.”
What are some of your favorite superfoods and why?