The word “superfood” gets thrown around a lot. The term has been applied to turkey, blueberries, garlic, pomegranates, chocolate and broccoli – a pretty random mix. Like most nutritionists, I’m not particularly comfortable with the word, as it tends to encourage people to eat a high quantity of a few specific foods without really knowing or understanding the full story.
Let’s look into these. Turkey is a lean source of protein, and full of vitamins, such as B6, and minerals including zinc, potassium and phosphorus; broccoli is a great source of folate, potassium and vitamin C; beetroot is packed with folate; and garlic is a great source of vitamin C and manganese. What to make of all that? Well, because these foods contain different nutrients at varying levels, it’s essential your diet includes a combination of them if they are all to be absorbed into your body. Sadly, this is often misunderstood, and people get caught up in the hype, and restrict themselves to eating lots of one thing, meaning they become deficient in everything else.
Jamie’s new book, Everyday Super Food, and accompanying TV show champion a healthy, balanced diet, and is all about eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, and foods from each of the food groups. The main reason for this is that each food group – fruit and vegetables; meat, fish, protein alternatives (such as milk and dairy products); bread, cereals and potatoes – contributes different good stuff to the body. The final food group includes foods that are high in fat and sugar (pastries, cakes, and biscuits, for example), but these shouldn’t be eaten too often.
Key nutrients such as protein, fat and carbohydrates will be ingested by eating a balanced diet, and each will, in turn, have their own role to play in wellbeing. Protein works to repair and build muscles, carbohydrates provide us with energy to move, and good fats are an important source of essential fatty acids such as omega 3, as these can’t be made by the body. Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat that is beneficial to heart health and brain development.
The point I’m keen to encourage is that there is no quick way of achieving good health, and that fad diets endorsing the latest “superfood” are only ever a short-term method of quick weight loss at best. Fad diets are likely to fail, as there aren’t many people who can last long eating only one food – and why would you, when there are so many truly super foods out there?
The best way to ensure you have all nutritional bases covered, and that you’re the best you you can be, is to take regular exercise alongside eating a balanced diet. Include foods from all the food groups, and forget about fad diets and superfoods.