Super foods - are they really that super?

The idea of super foods has been around since Popeye popped open his spinach! It  seems like every year brings a new food with a hard to pronounce name and outlandish promises of health benefits.


So Healthy U wants to know what makes a  food 'super' and should we be eating more of these foods if we want to be  super healthy? We asked Diabetes Queensland's newest Dietitian, Kathryn Kirchner for some help.

Kathryn says:

"Foods described as super foods are generally thought to be very high in important vitamins and minerals. Sometimes people claim these foods can also help with things like weight loss or cancer and heart disease prevention. Super foods certainly tend to be foods that dietitians recommend as part of a healthy diet such as berries, grains and salmon. However, it's important to remember no one single food will make you healthy or unhealthy. Focusing on your total diet is much more important."


Popular super foods explained:


Quinoa (keen-wah): This gluten free grain is not only low GI and high in fibre, quinoa is a great choice for vegetarians because it is packed with essential amino acids that are usually only found in meat. Best of all it's easy to prepare. Just boil it in water like rice.


Kale: From the cruciferous vegetable family (think broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower), kale can make a great addition to salads and can be used like spinach. Kale is a great source of calcium, vitamin C, A and K and a range of other vitamins and minerals. Just be aware kale is definitely an acquired taste so don't reverse the benefits by loading up on the salt and fat to mask the bitter taste.


Chia seeds: Another gluten free grain, chia seeds have risen to super food status because of their impressive fibre, protein, omega-3 and calcium content. These tiny black or white seeds can be sprinkled over almost anything from salad to yoghurt. Pop them in water and they soften to a jelly-like consistency and can be used as a dessert or even in cakes as a substitute for oil or eggs.


Kathryn's verdict


It's a great idea to include some of these foods in your diet to add a bit of variety, but it is more important to focus on enjoying a wide variety of foods everyday to gain all the nutrients you need. This is particularly important for fruit and vegetables. In my opinion, all fruit and vegetables are super foods and by eating as many different colours of fruit and vegetables as possible you can be sure you are super-charging your diet.