Health Topic Archives

Superfoods!

By Dr. Samuel Ascioti

In the last several years, the use of the term superfood has seemingly exploded. In any given magazine stand, one is likely to see a cheery headline boasting about a certain superfood’s wonders, sometimes with claims of promoting weight loss or increased energy. In this month’s article, superfoods will be discussed, along with a select few simple superfood recommendations and their nutritional information.

According to the always-handy Merriam-Webster dictionary, a superfood is a food that is rich in compounds and is considered beneficial to a person’s health (7). A typical list of superfoods includes:

Superfoods may certainly provide a nutritious meal, but it’s important to keep in mind that more scientific research is needed to verify certain claims. According to nutritionist Penny Kris-Etherton, most myths about superfoods are perpetuated by marketing efforts, and that nutritionists rarely use the term superfood at all (10).

Simply eating large quantities of superfoods will typically not lead to the dramatically miraculous health claims hawked on the newsstands and on TV. Rather, superfoods should be incorporated frequently and with variety into a day’s worth of meals, with a day’s worth of food consisting of responsible portions of beans, dairy, whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and omega 3-fatty acid-rich foods (like salmon) (10).

Superfoods may sometimes sound exotic (like the dreaded Açaí berry), but individuals do not need to break the bank to eat superfoods! Here are a few of my favorite superfoods and some of their benefits.

Broccoli
broccoliBroccoli is a classic vegetable for many households and is certainly the bane of some picky children. Broccoli is considered a cruciferous vegetable (5). Other cruciferous veggies include Brussels sprouts (this writer’s favorite!!), cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and bok choy (5).

Cruciferous vegetables may potentially lower risk of getting certain cancers, as well as stop the growth of cancers such as breast, lung, colon, liver, and cervix (5). What makes cruciferous vegetables worth eating (other than being plain delicious) is that they contain a special plant-based chemical called sulforaphane, which acts in the body to help detoxify cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) before they damage any cells (5).

Additionally, cruciferous veggies are considered antioxidants - they reduce oxidative stress in the body, which is when there is an overabundance of harmful free-radicals in the body (5).

One cup of steamed broccoli contains 44 calories, 5g of fiber, 200 mg of omega-3s, and a whopping 165% of a typical individual’s daily requirement for vitamin C (5).

Hint - save the stems of the broccoli, as they are just as nutritious as the florets! I put my leftover broccoli stalks in a food processor and sautee the broccoli shreds with oil and garlic, which is a quick and easy way to add nutrition to a meal while saving money on produce by using all of the vegetable!

Sweet Potatoes
sweet potatoesA staple of Thanksgiving dinners, sweet potatoes are a delicious and nutritious alternative to a standard potato! Sweet potatoes are high in potassium content and may significantly lower blood pressure if included in a well-balanced diet (6). Sweet potatoes also have a high source of fiber, promoting healthy bowel function and aiding in cholesterol management.

Beta-carotene, also found in carrots, is found in abundance in a sweet potato (6). Beta-carotene is an important precursor to vitamin A , and is a powerful antioxidant in the body. A 2007 Harvard study showed that males who consumed beta-carotene supplements for 15 years or more were less likely to experience cognitive decline than other males. However, smokers who have a high amount of dietary beta-carotene may actually increase their risk of lung cancer (6).

One cup of cubed sweet potatoes contains 114 calories, 4g of dietary fiber (or 16% of daily), and a whopping 377% of daily vitamin A (8).

Beans
beansAh, the magical fruit (but they’re actually legumes)! Beans have been a part of humanity’s diet for millennia, and for good reason. Beans have long been considered heart healthy - they are typically high in soluble fiber, which protects the heart by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and are high in protein and low in fat (9). About ½ cup of beans provides roughly the same amount of protein as 1 ounce of meat! Additionally, regular and moderate consumption of beans may help with controlling an individual’s blood sugar (3).

One cup of canned black beans contains 218 calories, 739mg potassium, 14.47g of protein, and 16.6g of dietary fiber (or 66% of total daily fiber needed!) (2).

Yogurt
Plain, non-fat Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for cream in any recipe, and is just as tasty by itself or with some fruit or granola added! Yogurts are excellent sources of calcium, potassium, zinc, protein, and the vitamins B6 and B12 (12). Yogurt also contains live bacteria in the form of probiotic cultures, which help maintain healthy gut function (12). Great as a breakfast or a snack!

One cup of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt has 120 calories, 20g protein, and 25% of daily calcium (1).


For me, food is one of the absolute best things about being alive. Being able to plan, prepare, and consume a delicious and nutritious meal is one of life’s greatest joys, especially if the meal was prepared using a superfood!

This month, ask your chiropractor about how you can incorporate a superfood into your diet! You are, after all, what you eat.

References For This Article:

1. Fat Free Greek-Style Yogurt 1 cup Nutrition Facts & Calories. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2017, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/1126907/2

2. Black Beans (Canned). (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2017, from https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/generic/black-beans?portionid=334865

3. Jenkins, D. J., Kendall, C. W., Augustin, L. S., Mitchell, S., Sahye-Pudaruth, S., Blanco, S., . . . Josse, R. G. (2012, November 26). Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial. Retrieved May 20, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23089999

4. Lane, E. (2016, May 18). 6 reasons you need to eat more sweet potatoes. Retrieved May 20, 2017, from http://www.menshealth.co.uk/food-nutrition/superfoods/6-reasons-you-need-to-eat-more-sweet-potatoes

5. Magee, E. (2007). The Super-Veggies: Cruciferous Vegetables. Retrieved May 22, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/super-veggies-cruciferous-vegetables#1

6. Nordqvist, C. (n.d.). What is Beta-Carotene? What Are The Benefits of Beta-Carotene? Retrieved May 26, 2017, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252758.php?page=2

7. Superfood. (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superfood

8. Sweet Potato. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2017, from https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/usda/sweet-potato?portionid=34583

9. Taub-Dix, B. (2012, August 16). Beans: The Undervalued Superfood. Retrieved May 20, 2017, from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2012/08/16/beans-the-undervalued-superfood

10. What's so super about superfoods? (2017, May 2). Retrieved May 26, 2017, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/

11. Zelman, K. M. (n.d.). Sneak 'Superfoods' Into Your Diet. Retrieved May 20, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/sneak-superfoods-into-your-diet#1

12. Zelman, K. M. (n.d.). 6 Best Foods You're Not Eating. Retrieved May 20, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/best-foods-you-are-not-eating#1

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