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The Truth About Superfoods

 

 

I hear and read about Superfoods all the time on TV and in magazines. This vegetable will make my skin look like a new-born baby’s. This berry will help me lose 1000 pounds in two hours! This fruit will keep me from ever dying. And as the claims become more outlandish the cost of these foods keeps going up, up, and away!

Well, like my parents always used to tell me, “Don’t believe everything you read or hear.”  

Yes, there are foods that are good and healthy for us. And some foods have an abundance of healthy nutrients. But according to the May, 2010 issue of Cooking Light magazine, “What’s hyped isn’t necessarily healthy, and the fuss about “super” nutrients is much ado about…………..not much.”   [emphasis mine]

Kathy Kitchens Downie, Registered Dietician writes:

It’s easy to see why the superfood idea sells so well: Some foods do boast an abundance of certain nutrients that are deemed healthy…….

The superfood idea has launched a thousand supplements, drinks, diet plans, and cookbooks in the past decades, promoting everything from green teas to soybeans to a previously obscure South American palm berry called the açai (listed recently on Oprah.com as “Dr. Perricone’s #1 Superfood”). Why eat an ordinary food when you can eat a food that is so much more, well, super?

The article’s main point seems to be what I have always believed and have written about before on this blog. That is, moderation and variety is key to a healthy eating and life style.

Ms Downie goes on to say:

Almost everything in modern nutrition research suggests that your whole diet—which should be a varied one, containing lots of plants, with moderate amounts of total fat and salt—is the thing to focus on.

Dark chocolate, edamame, and green tea do not a whole diet make. There’s nothing wrong with many superfoods (we will not come between you and your chocolate)……

Clearly Ms Downie is not a member of the food police. Thank heaven!!! No one can come between me and my dark chocolate!!!  NO ONE!!!  I like this lady. Very much.

But she goes on to say:

……..what’s wrong is the claim of superpower status. [emphasis mine] The superfood concept worries me because it suggests a magic way to get the nutrients you need…..

And here’s the real kicker: 

………..the superfood moniker actually means nothing, scientifically.

Really?????
I didn’t know that!!!!!

“There’s no official definition of what makes a superfood,” says Marisa Moore, RD, LD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “Superfoods are just foods that are purported to have significant health benefits over other foods.

But What About Those Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are the focus of a lot of superfood hype. Substances that inhibit cell damage caused by oxidation are thought to play a role in the prevention of many diseases. But science has a hard time saying which of these substances help the body, and in which quantities, let alone isolating a single one for any superpower. 

What? You mean I don’t have to spend a $1.00 an ounce on açai berries? Not that I would, but it’s a relief to know.

Meanwhile, less-hyped (but more fully researched) antioxidants, like vitamins A, C, and E, don’t receive as much love. Grapes, cherries, blueberries, and wine offer the same antioxidants as açai for a lot less dough.

The fine print!! What about the fine print? Not wanting to raise any dummies my parents also repeatedly warned me about the “fine print.” Evidently Ms Downie had parents like mine:

Looking at the fine print reveals another problem: Sugar, corn syrups, and other empty-calorie additions often top the ingredient list on candy, fruit snacks, or sugary drinks disguised as superfoods. That, in my view, is superlame.

[……….]

We can just look for fresh, in-season raspberries, strawberries, or cherries to get our antioxidants.

Here is a nice summary of the article:

No single food holds the key to good health. Eat a variety of colorful foods.

In the future I hope there are more articles like this one sharing common sense nutrition. Wouldn’t that would be a welcome relief from the media headlines that scream at us all the time?

Today’s Featured Recipe: 
Oven Roasted Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon

 

Super food status or not, I just love the taste of wild salmon!

Today’s recipe uses one of the healthiest ingredients you can find on earth, wild caught Alaskan salmon. It is expensive. But I do not eat any other kind of salmon. Sometime you can be penny wise and pound foolish. When it comes to salmon this old saying is certainly right on the mark. 

Today I spent almost $22.00 just on fresh salmon. But I will get no less than four meals from this purchase. That is $5.50 per meal. Considering a fast food meal costs as much if not more, it is well worth it to me in terms of taste, ease of preparation, and health benefits to spend that kind of money. There are always trade offs in life.

Atlantic salmon has high mercury levels and is therefore less healthy. So I do not eat it. I never eat restaurant salmon unless they can assure me it is Pacific salmon and wild caught. I will buy frozen wild caught Alaskan salmon. But every summer I can’t wait till the fresh comes to town!!!

The taste just can’t be beat. If you have never tasted wild caught Alaskan or Pacific salmon you really should treat yourself some time. You’re worth it!!!!!

Salmon is high in protein and in omega-3 fatty acids that provide well documented benefits for both the heart and the brain.

This is what you will need for 2-3 people:

¾ pound of wild caught Alaskan salmon    

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

It is almost a sin that something so delicious and so healthy should be so easy to make.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Rinse and pat the fillet dry with a paper towel.

With your hands rub the olive oil on both sides of the salmon fillet.

Add some salt and pepper.

Place the salmon on the baking sheet and place in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily. Salmon will be slightly opaque in the thickest part of the fillet.

Remove from oven, cut into 2 or 3 pieces and serve. (NOTE: Since I am single I will have a lot of salmon left over. I will be using it to make a pasta salad whichh I will share with you soon.

Plate the salmon and serve with whatever sides you like. I served my salmon with a dollop (I love that word – dollop) of lime butter, white rice with lime zest for color, and  a salad.

Wild caught salmon is a very dense fish. You do not need a lot to feel full. In fact, I had a bit left over that I will have for lunch tomorrow. So already I have two meals from this one piece of salmon.

But I still have half a pound of salmon left. So what am I going to do with the rest of the fish? 

Very simple. Next post I will share my Seashell Pasta with Salmon and Fresh Dill recipe.  This is a wonderful cool salad for a hot summer day. And best of all, the salmon is already cooked!!!!

Cost

¾ pound Alaskan salmon                  $21.74           

1 tablespoon olive oil                        $0.17

Salt and pepper

 Total cost = $21.91
Cost per person = $7.30

Bon Appetite!!!

Quote of the Day

 Three-fourths of the Earth’s surface is water, and one-fourth is land.  It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn.  

Chuck Clark

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