Goji berry, acai, pomegranate, kale. What do these foods have in common? They’re superfoods. Say what?! Let’s explain. For nearly 40 years there has been an ever-growing trend towards consuming foods that are actually good for you, and the earth. In recent decades, however, the ground swell toward “eating healthy” has eclipsed ‘healthy eating” with the rise of “superfoods”. These foods are morsels allegedly so packed with nutrients that they make bottled multi-vitamins pale by comparison. This hallowed roster varies by source but generally includes greek yogurt (probiotics), quinoa (contains nine essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce), blueberries (fights cancer and improves memory), chia seed (loaded with essential fatty acids), green tea (EGCG, a phytochemical, slows irregular cell growth), broccoli (contains high levels of vitamin C), and kale (high in calcium, iron, and fiber).
The trend for ingesting foods that not only taste good, but can improve your health has become big business, very big business. It has inspired backyard gardening, restaurants that source their produce from local growers, or grow these plants themselves, and cottage industries. In fact, after kale the next superfood may in fact be more superfoods. Chain restaurants such as Panera, and markets such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have come “clean” and only feature foods that are non-GMO, organic, and wholesomely prepared for maximum taste and nutritional value. It is a growing trend among millennials and health conscious older persons…groceries, restaurants, growers, and processors have taken notice and are working to accommodate this literally, growing trend.
Determining What is a Superfood
What makes a superfood a superfood, exactly? Its Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) rating. According to the Scientific American, the rating is the result of a lab test to indicate a food’s antioxidant content value. An ORAC-rating of over 5000 generally heralds its status as a superfood. So, ready or not, here are the top superfoods for 2018!
Nut oils. Fast on the heels of 2017’s nut butter craze, pressed nut oils are being championed as flavorful, and have a lower trans fat intake. They are multi-purpose and may be used in cooking, baking, and as an ingredient in salad dressings. Every heard of Cassava Flour? Chances are that going forward, you will. Used as a wheat alternative, it is made from the root of the eponymous vegetable and is commonly available in Bali and Southern Asia. In addition to being vegan, it is paleo-friendly, and gluten-free. Most persons already familiar with superfoods, know about the anti-inflammatory value of turmeric, especially its dementia-combative properties. Maca, cacao and matcha powders are also high in antioxidants are said to increase metabolism and speed weight loss, also.
Fans of Goji or Acai berries, known to regulate blood sugar and prevent insulin spikes, may find milder-flavored Maqui berries more to their liking. Said to be tasty yet low in sugar, these berries are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, too. No one tires of eating pistachios, but they are among the more expensive nuts at the grocery. This year, why not sample nuts from the Tiger tree? Roasted, they resemble raisins but are full of fiber, protein, potassium, as well as prebiotics and are easy to digest. Brimming with magnesium, these nuts help you to unwind after a workout, are good for maintaining healthy blood pressure and building strong bones.
If mushrooms are the food item you pick off your pizza slice and discard, then rethink that option. Perhaps the least expensive, and easiest to find, any form of this fungi will do. Each stem and cap is loaded with Vitamin D and a host of B-vitamins. Some food manufacturers are even sneaking mushrooms into beverages such as coffee and tea.
The spoiler here is that perhaps the greatest superfood to come already has an enormous following- bacon. Bacon?! How can that be? Is this the same food item that was condemned in 2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO) as carcinogenic? The very same. But today’s bacon is not like the processed meat that WHO decried. Those chemicals and salts used as preservatives in processed fatty meats are the cancer-culprits. Healthy bacon selections are both lean and nitrite-free. The bonus here is that bacon is a source of protein and amino-acids, both are great for building muscle and increasing stamina.
For anyone interested in achieving and maintaining their good health, superfoods supply the vitamins and minerals that our bodies require, yet do not necessarily produce on their own. As with many food fads, some superfoods are priced out of the reach of many of us. However, using common sense while keeping an eye on on’s food budget, a trip to the grocery offers many superfood options, like kale, blueberries, and broccoli. Forming sensible eating habits through a diet that includes as many superfoods as possible, what at first seemed to some as a passing fad, has become a way of life worth adopting.