Superfoods are considered to be “nutrient powerhouses that provide large quantities of antioxidants, phytochemicals (chemicals in plants responsible for colours and smells), vitamins and minerals. Most superfoods are plant-based, but some fish and dairy (milk products) also make the cut. Examples of popular superfoods include salmon, kale, açaí berries, kefir and almonds, just to name a few. Since there is not a strict definition of superfoods, any food that is nutrient-dense is commonly put into this category”. This is according to a post on the online INTEGRIS that explains nutrition and weight loss, fitness integrative and medicine heart health.
The high vitamin and mineral content found in superfoods can help the body to ward off diseases and keep onehealthier. When incorporated into a well-balanced diet, these foods can promote heart health, weight loss, improve energy levels and even reduce the effects of aging.
One company that has latched on the immense nutritional benefits of superfoods is De-relievers International, an American company. The piece of good news is that it has recently made an in-road into Nigeria market with its registration and launch. Its Superfood is a flagship product- a water-soluble supplement that has the ability to penetrate into the cells, restore the dormant ones, as well as nourish the good and active ones. Researches linked to these Superfoods claim that they have the capacity to treat over200 diseases or ailments.
These include protection against cancer, reducing the risk of glaucoma, stabilizing blood sugar and the prevention of liver damage.Others include its efficacy against arthritis, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure (HBP), stroke, goiter and loss of memory. It is claimed to stop malaria and typhoid, works on acid reflux, control of insulin in diabetics,, reduces obesity,fights fatigue and assists in blood flow amongst several others.
For the De-relievers Superfood, a pack that goes for N30,000contains 20 sachets of 4,500mg in each pack. To be used one should pour one sachet into 8 ounces of water, stir well before drinking. It is recommended to take them first thing 40-30 minutes in the morning before breakfast or 40-30 minutes after dinner.
Let us take a more critical look at the health benefits of superfoods. Generally, eating a nutritious diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is considered one of the most important parts of living a healthy lifestyle. That is in addition to regular exercise and living a stress-free life in clean environment. Science says nutrient-dense foods not only make you feel great, but may even reduce your risk of certain chronic health conditions while providing multiple health benefits.
In specific terms, “the high vitamin and mineral content found in superfoods can help your body ward off diseases and keep you healthier. When incorporated into a well-balanced diet, these foods can promote heart health, weight loss, improve energy levels and even reduce the effects of aging”.
Since we are active most times of the day the body cells undergo some changes, making us vulnerable to sundry diseases.. That is where antioxidants come in to reduce the deleterious effects of such changes. They are found in many superfoodsand may help prevent cancer, while healthy fats can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Fibre, which is also found in many superfoods, can help prevent diabetes and digestive problems while phyto-chemicals have numerous health benefits including reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Superfoods are also known to protect your organs from toxins, help lower cholesterol, regulate metabolism and reduce inflammation. This is great, isn’t it?
Of course, it is. That brings to the fore the increasing importance of eating a well-balanced diet.
Of significance is for each of us to note that while superfoods are good for one’s health and provide many nutrients we need on a daily basis, eating superfoods alone does not contribute to a healthy diet. Eating too much of one type of food can actually be detrimental to our health and prevent us from getting all of the nutrients we need. All because of this, superfoods should be added to a well-balanced diet, not replace it.
According toINTEGRISdietitian, Meagan Ballard: “No one food can provide you all of the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you need. It is very important to eat a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods to obtain the health benefits our bodies need. There is nothing wrong with eating a food item that provides you a good amount of a specific vitamin or mineral that you need, but our bodies require many vitamins and minerals to function properly, so don’t rely on one superfood alone to achieve this.” This is well said and should be taken seriously not with a pinch of salt.
So, the pertinent question is, what really is a balanced diet? A well-balanced and nutritious diet should include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, legumes and nuts while limiting the intake of sodium, bad fats and refined sugar.
Let us take a look at some food items which we have access to here in Nigeria that are considered as superfoods.
A little-known superfood but widely-used spice, ginger can give your immune system a boost, fight infections and protect against cancer. Ginger has been used throughout history as a treatment for nausea, digestive problems and muscle pain but has also been known to reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar. You should try adding ginger to meals as a spice, drinking it in tea or taking ginger root supplements.
Sweet potatoes are highly regarded as an excellent source of fibre, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and potassium. All of these nutrients can help prevent heart attack, keep you looking younger, promote immune system health, improve vision and maintain healthy teeth, bones and skin. Since sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, they do not require the extra butter, cream or salt that is typically added to potatoes to make them taste better.
Salmon is a fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Introducing salmon into your diet can decrease your blood pressure, reduce inflammation and even boost your mood. This fish is also rich in vitamin D and selenium, whichboth prevent cell damage and benefit your hair, skin, nails and bones. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish such as salmon at least two times per week.
Amongst the popular foods, avocados are known to help with everything from reducing cholesterol and alleviating arthritis to lessening the side effects of chemotherapy. Avocado is high in monounsaturated fats that can improve good cholesterol levels. It is dense with vitamins E and B6, which aid in red blood cell formation, helping protect body tissues from free radicals, producing glycogen (an energy source for your body) and promoting skin health.
Avocados can also help your body absorb carotenoids — plant pigments responsible for bright red, yellow and orange hues found in other fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids are great because they contain high levels of vitamin A, the vitamin linked to reducing your risk of cancer, heart disease and eye degeneration.
When these superfoods are combined with exercise and regular physical activity, a healthy and nutritious diet can work wonders for your health. As Herotodus rightly advised, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”.