Experts cannot agree on what constitutes a super food as trends seem to change from one week to another. However, a few salient points keep coming back: there is no silver bullet, and we need to eat more colourfully.
The chemical compounds that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colours also have powerful health properties, so, in order to maximise their potential, we need to eat dark, leafy greens; bright reds, yellows, oranges and blues; in abundance, and as varied as possible.
Just keep away from the rainbow-hued sweets!
Quinoa; goji berries; chia seeds; psyllium husk; spirulina... The foods deemed super at the moment all have difficult to pronounce names and hail from faraway lands. And yet, one of the most underrated -and factually very real- super food is neither exotic nor new: it is the humble and reviled garlic.
Garlic can be found in most kitchens, and many people are unaware that it is their most powerful ally against colds and flu; heart disease; aging; and cancer. It is also nutrient dense, a natural anti-bacterial and anti-viral. So, don't reach out for supplements and pills, just add more garlic to your cooking.
Cider vinegar is another underdog in the super food world. It is a lovely all-purpose vinegar, and research is increasingly confirming its multitude of health benefits. Try to privilege an unpasteurised and unfiltered vinegar, although all cider vinegars seem to be beneficial.
It turns out that fat is not the culprit for the current obesity epidemic: lack of physical activity, and excessive amounts of sugar in ready-made foods are more likely to blame. Short of running a marathon every week, cutting back on sugar consumption (think about all those sweet, hot drinks bought throughout the work day) can make a huge difference to the waistline and general well-being.
Without going into excess, fat should be re-introduced into our daily diet: fat is a great vector for flavour, and our bodies actually need fats to function properly. Some fats, such Omega-3, are even deemed essential because our bodies cannot produce them. The fats considered 'good' for you are olive oil, rape seed oil, coconut oil, and even butter and duck fat!
Experts are still on the fence about snacking, but our busy work lives may not allow enough time for three square meals a day. If that is the case, snacking in between meals will prevent hunger-induced binges. However, it is important to be selective about snack foods: think of snacks as miniature versions of a balanced meal, as opposed to a sugar-filled treat. Privilege nuts and seeds, as well as whole fruits (as opposed to a sugar-laden fruit smoothie); whole grains; and also eggs.
Eat little: literally. Sprouted beans and micro-greens are all the rage for garnishing plates, but they are actually very nutrient-dense. In fact, sprouted broccoli and cabbage can contain up to forty times the nutrients and cancer-fighting agents of fully grown vegetables. Sprouts and micro-greens can be found in the salad section of most supermarkets, but are quite pricey. However, they are easily grown on a kitchen windowsill, and require absolutely no green fingers! All you need is a little bit of compost and some seeds.
Indian cooking is full of spices not only because it is flavourful and lovely, but because it follows the principles of traditional Indian medicine. Spices not only have the power to jazz up a bland meal, they are also healthy power houses, as are herbs. So don't be afraid to sprinkle them anywhere your fancy strikes. If you are not accustomed to using spices and herbs, try adding one or two new additions to a favourite recipe.
«Everything in moderation. (Including moderation! So said Julia Child) The moral of the story is to eat varied and colourful. Don't get stuck in a rut, and eat the same meal every day. Try to step out of your comfort zone, and eat something new.»