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"Superfoods" are they important?

This week the LA Times featured an article about Superfoods.  It's a word we've all been hearing this past 8 - 10 years and this article sought to clarify what it all means.

I generally agree with the writer/dietician, Joan Blake.  Various experts put various foods on this list, depending on marketing campaigns as well as scientific studies.  Where does that leave the consumer in terms of choosing which foods are the most important to eat?

I believe the best way to think about it is in terms of "nutrient density."  Which foods pack in the most nutrition in the smallest serving?

A nice rule of thumb is "the darker the better."  For instance, romaine lettuce is more nutrient dense that iceberg lettuce.  Black beans are higher in anti-oxidants than white or pinto beans. For the foods called "superfoods" like kale, chia seeds, acai berries and pomegranate juice, while they are very high in certain phytonutrients and extremely good to consume, by focusing a lot on these foods we might forget the age-old standbys that have proven their value over time, like apples, walnuts, sweet potatoes, broccoli and carrots.  We need all of these foods to get good levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other smaller but equally important trace minerals, like zinc. 

The foods that do us the most good in terms of "anti-aging" are from the plant world:  fruits. vegetables and berries have tens of thousands of phytonutrients that combine together to weave a powerful web against aging of the cells.  This translates into DNA protection, lower inflammation markers, greater flexibility of arteries, etc. We are now being encouraged to eat between 9 - 13 servings of plant foods a day - up from 5 just a few years ago.  This is because we now know that thevariety and combination of many different foods lends to more protection.  Our breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates should be a rainbow of color. (this is why I am so in love with my daily JuicePlus+ since I know of no other way to get 28 different plant foods on to my plate every day!)

But other foods that are not necessarily fruits and vegetables, are equally important:  fatty fish, eggs, olive oil, dark chocolate (reallydark!), legumes, nuts, garlic, onions, pumpkin seeds, lentils, avocados, coffee (yes!).  Each brings something different to the table that has great value in either producing or protecting healthy cells.  

You will not find anything in this list that is manufactured in a facility.  Things in boxes and bags with long lists of ingredients subtract from our health rather than protect it.  We should focus on foods that makedeposits into our bank account of health rather than withdrawals.

Eating healthy is very colorful!  Power up!

Mary Anne Robinson, MS Bio-Nutrition
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