With the world becoming more health conscious, a superfood is a diamond in the rough. The foods that earn this prestigious label are suggested as foods with incredible nutritional value, along with other promises of longevity, disease prevention and far more. However, it all seems to be getting out of hand, doesn’t it? The SomethingOrOther-Berry from somewhere isolated deep in the Amazon (this isn’t real by the way) which is suggested to be able to make you fly, if you drink 25ml of its juice daily, and pay the £50 a bottle fee, causes scepticism, and rightly so.
Impact have decided to have a real look at some of these superfoods, to help you decided what is and is not worth your precious student money.
First up are some of these magical berries:
Just before we get going, it is important to state that we are talking about food, not supplements here. The latter are often irrelevant, especially if they single out one particular fruit (multivitamin tablets can be fine as part of a balanced lifestyle, but that is for another time).
Acai berries are actually quite anti-climatic. Per 100g there’s a measly gramme of protein, 2g of fibre, 5g fat and 15% of your daily vitamin A. Sure, there’s nothing bad about Acai then, except the price tag, but it certainly isn’t super.
“Goji berries are notably healthy, however, packing 180% of your daily value of vitamin A”
If you want alternatives, blueberries are almost twice as nutritious, and raspberries are even more nutritious, boasting 6.5g fibre, 44% of your Vitamin C, 10% Vitamin K, 34% manganese, as well as a small amount of practically every other vitamin and mineral, in just 52 calories.
Goji berries are notably healthy, however, packing 180% of your daily value of vitamin A, 30% of the daily value of vitamin C and 15% of the daily iron intake, in just ¼ of a cup. It also contains a healthy dosage of most other vitamins and minerals, along with a fairly high amount of protein for a berry.
They aren’t cheap, however, especially when fresh, and the NHS strictly dismisses the bigger health claims of goji berries preventing diseases.
So that’s berries out of the way, now onto grains:
Put simply, the information we know about Quinoa is simply that it is great. 100g contains 120 calories, 4.4g protein, 2.8g fibre, 1.9g fat, over 10% of your RDA of magnesium, folate, phosphorus, copper and 32% of your RDA in manganese.
There’s a lot of numbers here, we apologise. If you compare it to brown long grain rice, however, which has 2.6g protein, 1.8g fibre, 0.9g fat, over 10% of your RDA of Magnesium and Selenium. You can see the staggering differences. Brown rice does trump quinoa with its 45% RDA of manganese, but on the whole, quinoa is the top of the grains and rightfully earns its superfood status.
One of the timeless arguments, are avocados good for you? The fact is, they are SO good for you.
“Avocados are full of monounsaturated fats, those which are prominent in the Mediterranean diet (think olive oil, fish etc)”
Half an avocado, 100g, provides over 25% of the daily fibre needs for an average female, over 15 per cent of your vitamin C and antioxidant vitamin E and 26% of vitamin K requirements, as well as B vitamins and 20% of the RDA folic acid. It also contains B vitamins, magnesium, copper and potassium.
“But what about their fat content?” I hear you say.
Not a problem. Avocados are full of monounsaturated fats, those which are prominent in the Mediterranean diet (think olive oil, fish etc). These fats are good for controlling cholesterol and helping with diabetes.
Frankly, kale is a bit too perfect. It takes ‘superfood’ to a new level. It’s available almost everywhere and around £1 for about five meals worth, and get a load of these digits:
100g raw kale (it doesn’t really lose anything when cooked without salt)
Vitamin A – 308%
Vitamin C – 200%
Vitamin K – 1021%
Manganese – 39%
over 10% of your RDA vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium and Copper.
Kale also contains all but five of your vitamins and minerals to some percentage, along with 2g of fibre, 3.3g of protein and a good helping of omega 3s and 6s. Not bad for 50 calories a serving, is it?
Other worthwhile mentions include…
Not so super:
Sadly, this is probably not an ideal substitute for water; it doesn’t really boast masses of nutritional value, and due to the high fat and sugar content, you’re probably better off using it purely as an alternative to a sports drink (or in an instance where you are likely to burn it off), better still, pack a banana, which contains far more potassium, less fat and more fibre.
Almonds are exceptionally good for you and actually proven to help you burn fat whilst providing a healthy source of protein and fibre. Just eat them in moderation, and not the sugarcoated, chocolate-smothered kinds!
Oysters and Mussels:
Yes, not all superfoods are plant-based! In fact, oysters and mussels have serious nutritional benefits, you can find almost every nutrient needed in both of them. Oysters have very impressive levels of zinc, and mussels are packed with selenium (a nutrient important for cognitive function), both also contain good levels of protein and healthy fats. A perfect idea for a slightly lavish student meal then, be sure to purchase responsibly sourced fish though of course!
Hopefully, you now feel a little more guided on which foods should be part of your staple diet. However, we have to stress that there are pros and cons to some of these superfoods, nobody is perfect, eh? Watch the sugar count if snacking on berries, and, similarly, the calorie count with avocados and almonds. Balance is essential until it comes to Kale; you can eat all the kale in the world!