Each year brings with it a new popular food item, ranging in obscurity from mangosteen to grapefruit and boasting a variety of benefits like weight loss and cancer prevention. But is the concept of superfoods a marketing ploy, a passing trend? Or are they truly foods that will help us live longer and healthier lives? The answer is – it depends. While no one food contains all of the nutrients we should be consuming regularly, many foods do in fact have properties proven to improve health. Fancy names like acai, goji, and teff didn’t make it to the list, but the following five superfoods are tried and true foods that do our bodies good.
WHAT’S ALL THE HYPE? Packed with vitamin C and K, and hailed as a good source of fiber, manganese and other antioxidants, blueberries are consistently at the top of the superfood list. Some nutritional experts claim blueberries can protect against heart disease and some cancers, as well as improve your memory.
SCIENCE SAYS… While research on the effects of blueberries on memory, blood pressure, and cancer prevention has been somewhat inconclusive blueberries do live up to their superfood hype. According to a spokesperson from the UK Association of Dieticians, blueberries are high in nutrients, including phenolic compounds with an antioxidant capacity significantly higher than vitamins C or E.
Blueberries do live up to their hype since they’re high in antioxidents and nutrients.
2. OILY FISH
WHAT’S ALL THE HYPE? Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are said to help prevent cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, age-related vision loss and dementia. This is thanks to the vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids that oily fish contain.
SCIENCE SAYS… In a 2004 review of the health benefits of fish, the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition concluded that oily fish consumption does indeed reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Other studies have also found that eating oily fish can lower blood pressure and reduce fat build-up in the arteries. However, in the case of prostate cancer, age-related vision loss, and dementia, the evidence has been little to none.
Salmon is a type of oily fish that is heart healthy.
WHAT’S ALL THE HYPE? Arguably the ‘original’ superfood, garlic contains vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium and other antioxidants. The pungent bulb has had many alleged uses throughout the ages, including aphrodisiac, currency, medicine, and vampire repellent.
SCIENCE SAYS… UK dietitian Alison Hornby noted that, “studies using high concentrations of garlic extracts have been associated with improved blood circulation, healthier cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, all of which reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.” An authoritative review from 2012 also found that 200mg of garlic powder three times daily reduced blood pressure. In regards to garlic’s other uses, let’s just say the evidence is inconclusive.
Though perhaps not an effective vampire repellent, garlic does have its health perks.
WHAT’S ALL THE HYPE? A good source of iron, folic acid, nitrates, magnesium and other antioxidants, many recent health claims suggest beetroot can help lower blood pressure, boost exercise performance and prevent dementia.
SCIENCE SAYS… Two reviews, one examining the association between beetroot and reduction in blood pressure, and the other with exercise performance, both concluded there was a moderate effect. And while there have yet to be a sufficient number of studies exploring beetroot’s effect on dementia, all in all, beetroot is a very useful component of a balanced diet as its nitrate content may help to reduce blood pressure.
Beetroot is an important part of a balanced diet and could help keep blood pressure in check.
WHAT’S ALL THE HYPE? This dinnertime staple contains vitamin C, A and K, along with calcium, fiber, and folate, all of which have been said to help combat cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
SCIENCE SAYS… According to a 2007 review on cancer prevention, eating more non-starchy foods, such as broccoli, is associated with a reduced risk of some cancers. One small study found evidence that broccoli can also prevent cardiovascular disease, while another showed that sulforaphane, an antioxidant in broccoli, could help those with diabetes. While broccoli has not been proven to reduce high blood pressure, it nevertheless contains several nutrients that are important for good health.
The classic superfood, broccoli is packed with nutrients
This article originally appeared on Goodnet.org and is republished here with permission.