Let’s start with the basics. What is a ‘Superfood’ exactly? Simply put, a superfood is a nutrient-rich food considered to be particularly beneficial for one’s health and well-being. Over the years, many foods have been touted as being “superfoods;” kale, salmon, acai berry, pomegranate to name just a few. These foods are generally plant-base, but can also include fish and dairy.
Some ‘superfoods’ contain antioxidants, which are believed to help prevent cancer, healthy fats, which prevent heart disease, and fiber, to ward off diabetes and digestive issues. Foods that contain phytochemicals, the chemicals in plants such as kale an are responsible for the dark colours and smells, are also included in the ‘superfood’ category.
Many dieticians agree that while eating nutrient-rich foods are always a good idea, the ‘superfood’ label is really just a marketing term that refers to foods that offer health benefits. This is evidenced by the fact that on television, radio, and in magazines, you will often see a new ‘superfood’ touted every few months. The latest foods to make the rounds include raw cocao nibs, buckwheat, and moringa.
‘Superfood’ Number 1: Cocao Nibs
Cocao nibs are crunchy little nuggets with a deep chocolate flavour, but with no sugar, they tend to be a little bitter and nutty tasting. Cocao nibs are loaded with flavonoids, antioxidants, and magnesium. Cocao nibs can be incorporated into one’s diet in a number of ways, including sprinkled over oatmeal or yogurt, or mixed into energy balls.
‘Superfood’ Number 2: Buckwheat
Buckwheat is a versatile, gluten-free ingredient that can be a great flour replacement. Buckwheat not only provides a healthy amount of dietary fiber, it is also a good source of vegetarian protein. Buckwheat has somewhat intense flavour, like that of a dark, toasted bread. Because it is a great compliment to sweet fruits and spices, buckwheat makes great pancakes, and the hulled seeds, called groats, can be steamed for salads or eaten as oatmeal.
‘Superfood’ Number 3: Moringa
One of the more exotic new ‘superfoods’ to come on the scene is Moringa. This tropical leaf isn’t easily found in supermarkets like cocao nibs and buckwheat. It’s usually ground into a powder and sold in natural food stores. Moringa powder is high in iron, protein, and calcium. Nut-like, Moringa has a bit of a bite, similar to that of arugula or radish. It can be added to smoothies, and can be used as an ingredient in teas.
Research has shown that the ideal diet is one that is largely plant-based with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy animal products. While ‘superfoods’ like the ones listed above can form the basis for entry into healthy eating, and enhance the understanding the nutritional value of the foods we eat, there are many healthy foods one should consume, even if they lack the ‘superfood’ label.