A Guide to Super Foods
A terminology used for food that confer unique health benefits, usually attributed to an extraordinary nutrient composition. However, the term is usually not used by nutritionists, experts and other professionals, most of whom debate that certain foods possess the supposed health advantages claimed by their proponents. The term may be used, however, in a very broad sense – for example, as a synonym for superfoods or supermeal. In this article we will discuss only some of the many beneficial effects of these foods.
The body is usually equipped with a sophisticated defense mechanism that seeks to limit the damage to healthy cells that could result from free radicals in the environment. Superfoods fortify this mechanism and contribute to the maintenance of good health. They do so by providing the body with essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are vital for optimal health and the production of antibodies and other defense mechanisms necessary for immunity.
Vitamins and nutrients are usually grouped into two main categories – those that must be added to the food (precious and non-precious) and those that must be taken separately (mainly vitamins and minerals). Superfoods fall under the second category because, unlike ordinary foods, they are made up of essential nutrients in their natural forms (rather than being synthesized or manmade). For example, whole grains, which are an excellent source of carbohydrates, fiber and vitamins, are also classified as super foods. Whole grain foods are rich in various types of antioxidants including beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin B-12 and other nutrients that protect the body against certain diseases and contribute to good health. Thus, whole grains, regardless of their type and level of processing, provide substantial benefits to the diet, especially when included in the everyday meal.
Vitamin E is one of the most important vitamins and one of the most powerful antioxidants, which is why it is considered a super food. It is found in many fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seeds and is an important ingredient of many skin and dietary supplements. Since vitamin E is water-soluble, it requires digestive enzyme to convert into its primary form, which is in the form of vitamin A.
Vitamin C is another one of the super foods. Antioxidants play a significant role in fighting free radicals and helping the body’s cells to remain healthy. However, some studies have shown that excessive intake of fruits containing high amounts of antioxidants may lead to vitamin C deficiency and cell damage. Hence, although fruits like oranges, guava and grapefruit are considered to be a good source of vitamin C, excessive intake of these may result in adverse effects. Since a proper diet cannot provide all the vitamins and nutrients to the body, including naturally occurring antioxidants, food supplements containing Vitamin C are considered to be a good alternative.
Vegetables are also considered to be one of the super foods. They are high in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fibre and are a good source of proteins, carbohydrates and protein supplements for the diet. Some of the richest of these super foods include beans, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, squash, yams, and avocados. It is said that a well-maintained colon can control inflammation, reduce allergies and improve health. In fact, research has shown that a colon with adequate vitamins and nutrients can prevent and treat colon cancer.
So, if you are expecting a baby and are looking for foods rich in nutrients, consider consuming a well-maintained colon, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread and cereals, fish, lean meat and low fat dairy products. You should avoid refined sugars, white flour, trans-fats, preservatives and artificial flavours. If you are a vegetarian, then make sure you eat a wide variety of healthy foods. It is always best to choose organic produce.
It has been suggested that pregnant women should not eat cabbage because it contains a chemical that may be harmful for the fetus. However, studies show that the chemical is present in most of the common vegetables. It is always safe to eat the super foods which are rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins. When choosing the super foods, make sure you choose ones that contain at least 70% fibre. Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants, which help to protect your body from free radicals.