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.
Superfood Important Constituents Main Benefits Apples flavinoid antioxidants, other polyphenols, pectin and fibre helps arthritis and rheumatism, aids digestion Avocado Pears fibre, folic acid potasium and the oils carry fat soluble nutrients from other foods into the body Lower levels of LDL cholesterol and raise levels of HDL cholesterol; circulation, skin and fertility Beans, lentils and chickpeas Fibre, protein, B Vitamins, inulin, Calcium and antioxidants lower cholesterol; good for the heart; regulate the digestive system Bananas Fibre, Potassium, Zinc, Iron, Folic acid, Calcium, Vitamin B6 a good instant meal giving an energy boost Blueberries & blaccurrants Carotenoid, anthocyanins and other polyphenol antioxidants, vitamins C and E, folic acid, fibre low in calories, anti-cancer; good for the heart Beetroot soluble fibre, antioxidants, Iron, Folic acid reduces cholesterol, good for skin and blood Carrots Betacarotene, Vitamins C and E anti-cancer; chest infections, skin and eye ailments; circulation Cranberries Vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, bacteriostatic substances circulation; fatigue and urinary tract infections Dark Chocolate Flavinoid antioxidants helps 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 fibre lower cholesterol; improve brain function; prevent breast and colon cancers; heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, asthma and other allergies Garlic antioxidants, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral anti-cancer; reduces cholesterol, blood pressure and thins the blood Green Tea Polyphenols, Catechins, flavinoids preventing arthritis, prevention of coronary heart disease, reactivates skin cells, protecting against some cancers Kiwi fruit Vitamin C and flavinoid antioxidants (in the skin mainly), and potasium a good complete food, remove fluff only or juice to gain most benefit; circulation; stress Oats fibre, polyunsaturated fats, B Vitamins, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium slowly digested giving more even nuitrition and regulates sugar intake, lowers cholesterol Onions Antibacterial, antioxidants most of the benefits of garlic; half of a raw onion per day increases levels of 'good' faty acids by 30% Pomegranate antioxidants inhibits prostate cancer Salmon and oily fish Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamn D good 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, Phytoestrogens lowers cholesterol; protects against breast and prostate cancer; osteoporosis; hormonal imbalances and problems during the menopause Spinach and other dark leafy greens lutein and other carotenoid antioxidants, B vitamins plus C and E, iron ,betaine anti-cancer; anaemia; stomach inflammation and ulcers, macular degeneration Tomatoes lycopene (more when cooked) attacks cancer cells Walnuts omega-3 fatty acids, micronutrients and antioxidants heart disease; lower cholesterol Yoghurt Calcium, B vitamins, protein calcium for bones, the live culture has beneficial bacteria (probiotics); improves immune system
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