There has never been as much talk about superfoods as in recent years, even though they have always been part of our environment. It is not uninteresting to discover them because they can perhaps bring 100% natural solutions to the small problems of our daily life caused by a stressful life, incoherent diets that generate deficiencies, dietary imbalances, and fatigue. Who are they really, and what are their virtues?
We know that past generations used the power of local plants to protect themselves against certain ailments (thyme tea against colds, etc.). But today, who are they really, and can they improve our health or at least our well-being? Wouldn’t it be ideal to find a satisfactory response to our body’s problems without having to resort to medication?
1. What is a superfood?
The concept of superfood can be summarized as “any natural food that provides a maximum of beneficial effects for the body due to its composition”. The name superfood has been given to certain fruits and vegetables, berries, seeds, and algae because of their high content of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, or proteins. If this name has nothing official, it is now widely used to talk about these foods and is found in Anglo-Saxon countries under the name “superfood”.
2. What are superfoods?
In 2015, we talked a lot about berries and seeds. There are many more or less known. The chia seed from Central and South America would be a champion in omega 3, fiber, calcium, and protein. The goji berry, very fashionable among the stars, would have properties to fight against cardiovascular diseases or stimulate brain activity.
In the latest fashion, kale is a kind of kale that is difficult to chew but rich in beta-carotene, vitamins K, C, and iron. Spirulina, a super-alga, is said to have properties on the immune system, muscular fatigue, and endurance. We could also talk about turmeric, ginseng, pomegranate, or cocoa, and the list is long if we look at the shelves of food supplements. But what certainties do we have?
3. What does the research say?
According to current studies trying to shed light on the state of research on superfoods. Some studies have demonstrated the health benefits of blueberries, acai, pomegranate, beet, cocoa, and salmon. However, if we look closely, we realize that, in order to take advantage of the beneficial effects, the quantities to be ingested are, for the most part, impossible to respect.
The laboratory tests’ conditions are far from the real way of consuming them, and the virtues of certain foods sometimes need certain combinations to be really beneficial. For example, the beta-carotene in carrots or tomatoes is better absorbed if they are prepared with a source of fat: a vinaigrette, a drizzle of olive oil (doesn’t that remind you of the Cretan diet?)
4. The best choice: adopt a superfood!
If we follow the latest studies on the one hand, and on the other hand, the incitement of advertisements to believe in the miraculous virtues of certain berries or seeds from the other side of the world, we may be led to wonder (even if we want to believe in the existence of these superpowers).
Keeping a clear head, which will not prevent us from succumbing to certain fads from time to time, why not simply adopt a superfood? Clearly, nothing replaces a balanced diet, inspired more or less by the Mediterranean diet.
Don’t be afraid, there is nothing sad about the program: a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in season, not too much meat, a lot of fish including fatty fish, physical activity or at least walking and a lot of good humor!
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