Today, it’s widely recognized that you are what you eat, with some foods appearing to be better for you than others. When you fill your diet with the so-called superfoods, you’re getting a whole lot more than the traditional nutrients they contain. Foods with compounds such as phytochemicals, botanicals, bioactives, probiotics, Omega 3s and more are being closely studied for their ability to enhance your health and wellbeing, and help you age successfully.
Chances are you already know about many of the superstars. You can find them in every food category, such as oats and other whole grains, vibrant colored fruits such as blueberries, mangoes and kiwi fruit and yogurts with prebiotics ( healthy bacteria ).
Even culinary herbs and spices are providing their worth as superfoods in the way they can boost the anti-oxidant activity of meals. Here, we take a closer look at two of the new superheroes in town.
Scientists are very interested in studying indigenous cultures that have long revered certain foods for their health and medicinal properties.
Acai berries are found in the deep jungle of Amazon, seems to have phytochemicals that hold a potent health powers. The acai berries grows in clusters on the acai palm and has very high anti-oxidant activity, with Brazilians apparently describing it as “the milk of the Amazon” . Traditionally, they have used acai berries to treat skin conditions and digestive disorders but the claims around this popular health food supplement abound.
In a recent University of Folrida study, acai berry extract was shown to trigger a self-destruct response in up to 86% of leukemia cells in a test tube environment. However, scientists are quick to point out that human studies are needed before claiming any anti-cancer properties. When it comes to fruit, whole is best, as there are beneficial interactions or synergy between different components. Yet, as acai fruit perishes quickly on picking, foods with extracts of the berry may be the way to go.
There’s nothing new about sardines, but the fact that they have been largely overlooked in the Omega 3 stakes is, well just a little bit fishy!
Sardines are a great health bargain as they are easy to find , versatile, relatively inexpensive and pack a powerful Omega 3 and Vitamin D punch. For example, sardines in olive oil contain approximately 200mg of long chain Omega 3s ( DHA and EPA ) per 100mg, compared with canned tuna and salmon in the range of 200mg-400mg per 100g.
Hailed for their heart health benefits and their role in helping to reduce the symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, long chain Omega 3s are now being studied for their mind and mood benefits, too.
In another plus, sardines contain calcium from their edible bones and are very low on the food chain, so they are likely to have lower levels of contaminants than other deep sea fish.
Sardines are also one of the richest dietary sources of the bone-building vitamin D. Low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with chronic medical conditions such as some cancers and auto-immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis.