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Recently some foodstuffs have been given the title Superfoods. These are foods which contain higher proportions than 'ordinary' food of constituents such as antioxidants, monounsaturated fats and micronutrients, that have been shown to be beneficial to a healthy life. Sometimes called "food as medicine". However, a balanced diet which contains plenty of fruit and vegetables would provide most of the phytonutrients needed, but current lifestyles and efforts to avoid certain foods which contain more harmful ingredients, may mean that the average diet could be lacking to some extent, in these healthy constituents. The number of these 'superfoods' varies depending on which book you read and is being added to all the time. Oatmeal was the first superfood to be approved by the FDA in the USA as it has proven benefits in reducing cholesterol so reducing the risk of heart disease.
After applying regulatory attention to the claims of herbal remedies, the European Union is turning to superfoods and producers will have to prove any nutritional or health-giving claims made. The European Food Safety Authority is drawing up a list of acceptable claims. New regulations on such claims come into effect at the beginning of July 2007, with a two year period of grace for producers to comply fully. Some nutritionalists say that the claims are often applied to more exotic and expensive foods, but that equally beneficial effects are available from more common, locally produced items, eg. the more expensive blueberries are often described as a superfood, but balckcurrants contain about ten times as many flavenoids.

SuperfoodImportant ConstituentsMain Benefits
Applesflavinoid antioxidants, other polyphenols, pectin and fibrehelps arthritis and rheumatism, aids digestion
Avocado Pears fibre, folic acid potasium and the oils carry fat soluble nutrients from other foods into the bodyLower levels of LDL cholesterol and raise levels of HDL cholesterol; circulation, skin and fertility
Beans, lentils and chickpeasFibre, protein, B Vitamins, inulin, Calcium and antioxidantslower cholesterol; good for the heart; regulate the digestive system
BananasFibre, Potassium, Zinc, Iron, Folic acid, Calcium, Vitamin B6 a good instant meal giving an energy boost
Blueberries & blaccurrantsCarotenoid, anthocyanins and other polyphenol antioxidants, vitamins C and E, folic acid, fibre low in calories, anti-cancer; good for the heart
Beetrootsoluble fibre, antioxidants, Iron, Folic acid reduces cholesterol, good for skin and blood
CarrotsBetacarotene, Vitamins C and Eanti-cancer; chest infections, skin and eye ailments; circulation
CranberriesVitamins A and C, iron, potassium, bacteriostatic substancescirculation; fatigue and urinary tract infections
Dark ChocolateFlavinoid antioxidantshelps lower blood pressure. Not milk chocolate, must be high in cocoa solids
Flax Seeds (Linseed)Omega-3, -6 and-9 fatty acids, vitamin E, manganese and fibrelower cholesterol; improve brain function; prevent breast and colon cancers; heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, asthma and other allergies
Garlicantioxidants, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviralanti-cancer; reduces cholesterol, blood pressure and thins the blood
Green TeaPolyphenols, Catechins, flavinoidspreventing arthritis, prevention of coronary heart disease, reactivates skin cells, protecting against some cancers
Kiwi fruitVitamin C and flavinoid antioxidants (in the skin mainly), and potasiuma good complete food, remove fluff only or juice to gain most benefit; circulation; stress
Oatsfibre, polyunsaturated fats, B Vitamins, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesiumslowly digested giving more even nuitrition and regulates sugar intake, lowers cholesterol
OnionsAntibacterial, antioxidantsmost of the benefits of garlic; half of a raw onion per day increases levels of 'good' faty acids by 30%
Pomegranateantioxidantsinhibits prostate cancer
Salmon and oily fishOmega-3 fatty acids, Vitamn Dgood for the heart and circulation; brain development and function; arthritis and healthy bones
Soya high in protein, well-absorbed iron and calcium, B-complex vitamins and lecithin, Phytoestrogenslowers cholesterol; protects against breast and prostate cancer; osteoporosis; hormonal imbalances and problems during the menopause
Spinach and other dark leafy greenslutein and other carotenoid antioxidants, B vitamins plus C and E, iron ,betaineanti-cancer; anaemia; stomach inflammation and ulcers, macular degeneration
Tomatoeslycopene (more when cooked)attacks cancer cells
Walnutsomega-3 fatty acids, micronutrients and antioxidantsheart disease; lower cholesterol
YoghurtCalcium, B vitamins, protein calcium for bones, the live culture has beneficial bacteria (probiotics); improves immune system

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