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Superfoods of the decade: Do they live up to the hype?

As we nestle comfortably into this decade, many retirees in the KwaZulu-Natal region, and around the world, find themselves bombarded with information about the latest health trends, particularly regarding ‘superfoods’. These nutrient powerhouses are said to pack large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals, offering numerous health benefits. With so many fads coming and going, it’s essential to sift through the noise and determine which superfoods truly live up to their hype.

Let’s embark on this culinary exploration together:

1. Quinoa

Originating from South America, quinoa isn’t just another grain. It’s a complete protein source, meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids. Moreover, it’s gluten-free, making it an excellent choice for those with gluten sensitivities. With its nutty flavour and versatility, quinoa certainly deserves its superfood status.

Verdict: Lives up to the hype. It’s an excellent alternative to rice and other grains, especially for vegetarians and vegans.

2. Chia seeds

These tiny seeds have made a massive impact on the health scene. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre and protein. When soaked, they form a gel-like consistency, making them popular in puddings and smoothies.

Verdict: Worth the attention. They’re a great source of energy and keep you full, aiding in weight management.

3. Kale

A few years ago, kale wasn’t the superstar green it is today. Now, it’s hailed for its incredible nutrient density, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron. It’s also low in calories and high in fibre.

Verdict: This is truly super. Whether in smoothies, salads, or chips, kale delivers both nutrition and versatility.

4. Goji berries

Touted as an anti-aging wonder, these small red berries are native to Asia. They’re rich in vitamin C, fibre, and antioxidants.

Verdict: They’re beneficial but can be pricey. While they do offer health benefits, other local berries or fruits in KwaZulu-Natal can provide similar advantages.

5. Turmeric

This ancient spice has been in the limelight, primarily for its active compound, curcumin. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is also believed to boost brain function.

Verdict: This one stands strong. While more research is needed, its long-standing use in traditional medicine and its potential health benefits make turmeric a worthy addition to one’s diet.

6. Avocado

Once avoided due to its high-fat content, avocados have had a significant image makeover. They’re now celebrated for their healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fat, which promotes heart health.

Verdict: Definitely lives up to the hype. Avocados are not only nutritious but also creamy and delicious, making them a favourite in many dishes.

7. Matcha

This finely ground green tea powder from Japan is praised for its high antioxidant content, particularly catechins. It’s also a natural energy booster.

Verdict: A robust yes, but with a caveat. While matcha is healthful, it’s essential to source high-quality matcha to avoid potential contaminants.

8. Bone broth

Popularised by many wellness experts, bone broth is rich in minerals and amino acids. It’s believed to support joint health, digestion, and skin health.

Verdict: Worth considering. While it’s nutritious, the key is to make or purchase bone broth made from high-quality, organic bones.

9. Sweet Potato

A vibrant, delicious root vegetable, sweet potatoes are not just a tasty addition to your plate but are also packed with nutrition. They come in various colours, from the more common orange to purple, each with its unique set of beneficial compounds.

Nutritional value:

Rich in vitamins: Particularly high in vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), which is essential for good vision, growth, and immune function. They’re also a good source of vitamin C and some B vitamins.

Dietary fibre: A medium-sized sweet potato contains about 4 grams of fibre, which aids in digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness.

Antioxidants: The orange variety is rich in beta-carotene, while the purple sweet potato is loaded with anthocyanins, both of which are powerful antioxidants.

Verdict: Undoubtedly, a superfood. Sweet potatoes are versatile (think roasts, soups, fries, and even desserts) and bring a plethora of health benefits to the table. Including them in your diet can be both delightful and health-promoting.

10. Blueberries

Often termed as the ‘king of antioxidant foods’, blueberries are small, round, and purple-blue in colour. They are not only delicious but also among the most nutrient-dense berries.

Nutritional value:

Vitamin C and K: Blueberries are a good source of these essential vitamins, aiding in immune function and blood clotting, respectively.

Dietary fibre: Important for digestive health and more.

Antioxidants: Blueberries are believed to have the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. The main antioxidant compounds in blueberries are flavonoids, particularly one group called anthocyanins, which give them their purple hue.

Anti-inflammatory properties: Chronic inflammation is believed to be one of the drivers of aging and many diseases. The antioxidants in blueberries may reduce inflammation.

Verdict: Absolutely lives up to the hype. Incorporating blueberries into your diet, whether fresh, frozen, or dried, can provide a range of benefits. They’re great in smoothies, desserts, or just as a snack on their own.

The term ‘superfood’ might be modern, but the concept of eating nutrient-rich foods is as old as time. It is important to incorporate these foods into a balanced diet, but not to completely overhaul how you currently eat. For retirees, especially in the vibrant KZN community, it’s essential to make dietary choices that support long-term health.

Enjoy the journey of culinary discovery and always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet.



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