Making Sense of Superfoods
Feb 01, 2017 08:28AM
● By Ashley Pape
As I sip the cool banana, pineapple and coconut concoction, I ask the woman at the counter again, “You said what was in this?” She responds, “Kale and spinach.” I’m at Nekter Juice Bar, trying the Tropical Cooler smoothie for the first time, and I cannot believe it. How can healthy foods taste so much like a piña colada? My taste buds are pleasantly fooled.
Once the New Year begins, many people recommit to healthy living and embrace superfoods and all their leafy, bright-colored goodness. But are superfoods really different from other fruits and vegetables, and is it possible for regular people (not just health enthusiasts) to eat them every day?
Flower mound Style talked to local health food experts to help make sense of the sometimes-confusing superfoods craze. Learn the sweet and surprising facts, so you can start living your healthiest life this year.
THE SUPER BENEFITS O F S U P E R F O O D S
Superfoods, those nutrient-dense foods considered to be especially beneficial to one’s health and wellbeing, are indeed super. From kale and salmon to nuts and whole grains, superfoods can help you fight disease, feel more energetic and even lose weight.
“Superfoods pack an endless assortment of vitamins and minerals that tout benefits ranging from boosting the immune system to fighting off free radicals,” explains Alexis Schulze, chief visionary officer for Nekter Juice Bar. “Basically, they’re so nutrient-rich that no other food even comes close in terms of health benefits.”
And Schulze would know about nutrient-rich foods— it’s the reason she and Steve Schulze founded Nekter in 2010. “We firmly believe in the integrity of real food, which is why I have personally approved everything on the menu,” she says.
One of her favorite superfoods is tumeric, which is often used in Asian medicine and cooking. This vibrant orange herb is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and metabolism booster, and it also promotes healthy joints and muscles while adding unparalleled flavor to dishes and drinks.
Goji berries are also often used at Nekter. Schulze explains that this tiny, antioxidant-loaded pink berry is an excellent source of beta-carotene and other vitamins that produce healthy, glowing skin, protect the eyes and boost the immune system.
Some superfoods are so unconventional, most of us would never think about eating them as a snack. Take bee pollen, for example. It’s essentially a mother’s milk to a young bee. “Bee pollen is considered one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods. It’s about 40 percent protein and contains nearly all the nutrients required for humans,” says Schulze. “Bee pollen is high in amino acids, vitamins, B-complex and folic acid. It also supports digestive health and serves as a natural energy booster.”
While a few superfoods might surprise you, let’s face it: Nothing beats sitting down to a real meal you can feel good about eating. For superfoods you can chew, Modern Market is a great stop.
“Modern Market serves amazing, delicious food made with simple, whole ingredients loaded with nutrients,” says Ana Medina, regional marketing leader for Modern Market.
To get many superfoods in one meal, Medina recommends the eatery’s Superfood Salad, which contains a spinach-kale blend, quinoa pilaf, grapes, feta, carrots and almonds topped with handmade champagne vinaigrette. Once you experience this salad bursting with nutrients, you will never want to go back to regular greens again.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS? EAT MORE SUPERFOODS
When it comes to those who want to superfoodify meals at home, it’s easy with the help of specialty grocery stores. Sprouts, Central Market and Whole Foods offer fresh, pure superfoods that can be eaten alone or added to meals.
Erin Miller, spokeswoman for Sprouts, says there are many options for adding superfoods to your menu at home. One example is pomegranates, which she describes as “rich in powerful, free-radical fighting antioxidants called polyphenols. An eight-ounce serving of pomegranate juice enjoyed daily may support normal levels of cholesterol and healthy coronary artery function.”
Commonly found in salads and Italian dishes, tomatoes are another smart superfood to add to a healthy diet. Miller explains that tomatoes are full of nutrients, including an abundance of lycopene, a health-promoting plant pigment.
“Lycopene not only gives tomatoes their ruby-red color, but also it helps support immune function and prostate health,” Miller says. “Cooked tomatoes found in pasta sauce, salsa and tomato paste enhance the absorption of lycopene in your system.” An excuse to make salsa? You don’t have to tell us twice!
Honey is another superfood to work into your diet this year. “The buzz about honey is true,” Miller says. “It's full of B-complex vitamins, amino acids and enzymes. Raw honey is tasty and a great substitute for refined sugars. Enjoy it swirled into tea or drizzled over oatmeal.”
Speaking of oatmeal, David Leuthold, non-perishable director of specialty foods at Central Market, recommends adding blueberries to your oatmeal in the morning to start your day off right. He explains that blueberries contain “high levels of antioxidants that fight against cancer and are a good source of vitamins C and K.”
Another great option is kombucha, a fermented tea probiotic drink that originated in China. Leuthold described its many beneficial and healing properties, including cancer prevention, increased metabolism and increased energy level.
Also, health enthusiasts should try cacao this year, as Leuthold mentioned that it can improve memory, increase bliss, reduce heart disease, help shed fat and boost immunity and energy.
“It may surprise you to discover that raw cacao contains nearly four times the antioxidant content of regular processed dark chocolate, 20 times more than blueberries, and 119 times more than bananas,” says Leuthold.
Kristina Bradford, marketing field associate and southwest region PR lead for Whole Foods Market, says that the Tigernut is a trendy superfood this year, and it’s easy to see why. “The Tigernut is rich in a particular form of fiber known as resistant starch, filled with as much iron as red meat, and a source of several vitamins, minerals and nutrients,” explains Bradford.
Superfoods are all around us—and easy to work into your diet, whether you grab a juice somewhere or whip up a nutritious meal at home. This year, open up your mind and tastebuds to superfoods and start enjoying the bevy of health benefits. You just might become a super fan of superfoods after all.