Superfoods – the lowdown
There has been plenty of chatter amongst nutritional circles about Superfoods, for quite some time now. We know the importance of nutrition, especially from a sports performance point of view; so what and why is there a benefit to eating so called “superfoods”. On this episode of 32Gi Sports Nutrition, we give you the lowdown on superfoods. They are not all exotic!
Thanks for joining us once again on 32Gi Sports Nutrition, I’m Mr Active David Katz, Mark Wolff joining us on the line on Skype. We talked in the last edition of the podcast of winter verse summer foods and the sort of nutritional content and how that vary and what you should look at.
One of the things that came up were berries and I know berries fall into, certainly blueberries to the super food sort of category. I thought that would be a great thing to touch on. A lot of people look at superfoods they think they are the key to heal and health from a diet point of view.
So I thought we should touch on a few of the more common sort of superfoods and what is the reason behind them being more beneficial in a sense. Mark so basically if you were to sum up superfoods; are we looking at high in vitamins, mineral dense? What would be the summation of a super fruit, food?
What puts the super in superfood
MW: I think a superfood is a food where a certain portion that you gonna actually eat is high in nutrients, it’s rich in nutrients. That could be in the form of minerals, it could be in the form of vitamins, antioxidants etcetera.
So there’s a sort of big worldwide search to find the most powerful superfood that are out there. But there’s some very common ones which people tend to forget and very easily accessible ones which aren’t so expensive. I think we can sort of chat about those.
You know and it really depends on how you wanna incorporate it into your diet. Some of them don’t taste really great for some people. Some taste amazing it really depends on a person. But there’s many ways to skin a cat and there’s many foods out there that contains some nutrient dense, have very nutrient dense properties.
DK: Well starting with berries as I touched on I know blueberries is almost on everyone’s superfood list. Do they sort of deserve their place and are they the pick of the sort of more common berries that people eat?
Berries – talk about a superfood family!
MW: Blueberries are awesome I mean I actually like to eat a lot of fruits which have got a variety of colours. That rich dark colour generally means that the properties behind it are probably very decent.
Look blueberries are very high in antioxidants they’ve already got good properties. But you can look at things like Loganberries, you can look at things like cranberries as well. I’m talking about them in their natural state. I’m not talking about it in a caramelised dried state because that obviously increases the sugar content.
Strawberries are also decent…we talking about mulberries, we talking about blackberries all the berries are actually quite good. I actually like to tend to mix it up a little bit.
I mean I’m not a fan of all the berries from a taste point of view. But I generally try to mix it up as much as possible. But I am a fan of blueberries and goji berries. Those are some berries that I actually consume on a regular basis.
DK: Mark I think in South Africa specifically it’s very hard to buy sort of fresh goji berries, I don’t know if there is anywhere in the world where you can. Is it still beneficial even though they are dried?
MW: You not gonna get goji berries in a raw sort of natural state. They are dry in order to be able to maximise the absorption from goji berries. The idea is to soak them. You should be soaking them to eat them raw and dry. It’s not gonna be so easy to breakdown and digest.
In Europe specifically they actually soak goji berry in boiling hot water and actually drink it like a tea or along with a tea. Or you can simmer it in a cereal or a porridge or simmer it somewhere, where you gonna actually allow it to become far better absorbed by softening it quite nicely.
DK: That’s very interesting because personally I haven’t heard of that and I think it’s important one of those things people probably have missed just trying to consume goji in the state you buy them in. Staying with fruit maybe moving away from berries what are the other fruits that can really be constituted as a super food?
Nutrient dense fruits
MW: Look I think they I mean not necessarily a superfood but I think if you looking at fruits that are nutrients dense, that I mentioned in the previous podcast. Things like mango…watermelon which you mentioned as well it’s got nice vitamin A and vitamin C content.
There’s granadillas which I like. There’s also papaya, there’s kiwi, there’s many different types of fruits that you can actually bring into a diet. Which has got really good…properties from mineral and a vitamin perspective.
It’s actually quite broad, I think it’s a matter of finding a fruit that taste good, that you gonna enjoy. Actually just checking the nutritional value the nutritional value of that fruit is actually going to provide you some sort of a value.
DK: Mark would you look at lists again, like I touched with blue berry green leafy vegetables in it’s various forms are always up there. They are not just one, they tend to almost dominate top 10 top 20 lists. Are they in general and which are the sort of ones that you would say are really are the proper super foods?
Why green leafy vegetables are so critical
MW: I think when it comes to green leafy vegetables I think that is such a critical elements in anybody’s diet. Athletes that I’ve worked with where they haven’t, where they don’t consume a sufficient amount. One of the things is their folic levels are actually quite low. You don’t want that to be low.
In that case would actually put somebody onto say a folic acid supplement if they want to increase it. But you can get this from natural foods so why not do it because they have so many benefits.
So if I’m looking at the green stuff I’m looking at the kale, I’m looking at spinach, you looking at broccoli, you looking at Brussel sprouts, you looking at Swiss Chard. There’s so many different kinds of green leafy vegetables out there. You can actually cook them quite nicely.
I believe that you should be steaming them as well if you want to maximise their absorption. Steaming those kind of green leafy vegetables will actually allow for far better absorption in your system. There’s many ways you can dress it as well in order to make it to taste nice. You know a lot of people battle with the taste.
There’s quite a few, other vegetables to probably look at. Will be things like leak and cauliflower. Then you get your sort of dual foods like lentils, which are high in protein. So there’s really many, many options out there.
One of the biggest things that I’m seeing in the market at the moment especially on this big Moringa thing. Moringa is very nutrient dense, I gotta tell you it tastes awful. So for many people that take it in the capsule form as opposed to taking it in a tea form. You can get in a tea form but again it’s a matter of sort of taste.
Can you – I don’t believe that a diet should be sacrificial. I think you need to enjoy what you eating. Just trading something for the sake of it to me is not going to really help you. Cos you actually need to really enjoy the food which are nutrient dnse and try and enjoy eating health as opposed to eating health for the sake of getting health and not actually enjoying the food.
I wonder if I can add in there, if you not into spinach something like that try baby leave spinach. Just tends to be a lot sort of sweeter and nicer to eat. Also throw it into a smoothie then the taste isn’t as strong and you still getting it into your diet.
Something else, with my wife, if I see a plate without greens on it I’d say it’s not a real meal. If I cook I always throw greens in there but that’s personal preference as you’ve touched on Mark very important.
I wanna move on now to sort of good fats and there’s so many products out there. Think of avocados, coconuts, coconut oil these products are all also seen as things that would fall into this bracket?
MW: Yes the coconut oil I’m a very big fan of…I think it’s got – I think coconut as a whole coconut fruit is actually very good mineral properties. In it’s raw form it’s awesome.
When it comes to cooking I prefer using coconut oil as opposed to any other oil. It’s also very high medium triglycerides. Those are much, much more easily converted into energy which the body can utilise. Because it’s a medium chain fat and it’s not a long chain fat which takes a lot longer to break. The system really requires time in order to be utilised as a source of energy.
So to me coconut oil is really it’s an endurance athletes’ oil of choice and it should be utilised quite predominantly I never cook with olive oil ever I only use it for cold dressing.
Just some fats in some oils don’t respond properly from a chain perspective when they when heat is applied to them. So…I know coconut oil at least you can apply heat and you not going to actually damage the, the actual chain within that oil.
As far as the other fats go, I mean you mentioned the nuts. The nuts have also got protein and they got fat. Generally the tree nuts are the ones to go for; things like the almonds, the things like the walnuts, you talking cashews…pistachios and Brazilian nuts. All of those are amazing.
I actually like to make nutbutters with those nuts, and to try and mix it up a little bit. Sometimes it’s not easy to just eat them raw. The problem with nuts is that people tend to have a teaspoon of about 20 nuts. They just cannot stop eating and they tend to over eat.
So again you gotta be careful about the amount you eat. Yes nuts are healthy but sometimes I tell people there is such a thing as too much health. In other words eating healthy foods in excess can still cause weight gain and cause issues. So you still need to be careful from the amount that you take.
Another fact that should be mentioned is actually if you have a look at something like Chia seeds. Chia seeds to me are incredibly and I eat them probably daily, if I make an oatmeal I stick it into my oats. I sometimes make Chai puddings…I just think it’s a very versatile seed it’s got an excellent omega content. It’s an excellent super food as far as I’m concerned.
What to consider when looking at fish
So yeah there’s many options out there if you looking at sort of in the fish environment. There’s other there’s some brilliant lean protein fats as well things like salmon, things like sardines. Awesome nothing wrong with eating a fish which has got a very good fat content to it as well.
DK: With salmon though, the whole debate about sort of fresh verses farmed. I suppose with any food but there is a big difference to eating the fresh salmon over farmed salmon.
MW: I agree with you a hundred percent. Having to be here in the Nordics like a fair amount I’ve been exposed to eating some real food fresh salmon out there. But yeah I think you need to be – another thing is that a lot of people don’t realise and that’s usually very popular amongst people. They love their sushi.
Just remember that there is bacteria that sits on-on raw fish. One of the things that I do tell people is that if you are not well if you are ill you shouldn’t really consume something like that. Because you know consuming…a bacteria you don’t know how it’s going to respond.
I agree with you the more natural you can get from a choice point of view that should be the choice that you actually make. It’s not so simple in the world that we live in because the food industries is a very, very big business. But there are options when it comes to natural selection.
Grains & spices worth having
DL: Mark you talked about adding Chia seeds to your sort of oatmeal or your oats as we call it in South Africa. This is just a sort of simple one and I mean it’s almost everyday breakfast sort of porridge that people can have it. Does it is constituted in being in this group of foods?
MW: Yeah I think oats is a decent meal the only problem with oats is it’s not very alkaline as compared to things like millet, there are other grains I would look at as well. Like quinoa and you can actually make cereals or puddings out of those grains.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be a side course to a piece of meat. So you know if you soak it and you sort of put a little more fluid in, then you can actually make a nice little filling.
Then you can actually add some ingredients which you turning into more of a breakfast meal. I actually from a carbohydrate perspective if I’m using oats post-exercise recovery I’ll definitely put in some Chia seeds. I like to simmer it with a lot of cinnamon.
Cinnamon to me is again a super spice…without a doubt. There are others out there. Another one is turmeric. For example I wouldn’t put turmeric into oats, because that’s just not suitable. But definitely cinnamon is.
Then after that I actually add like a nutbutter. From a natural perspective I can add some blueberries in, whatever fruits that I want and it’s turned into quite a decent meal.
There’s nothing wrong with milk. I’m lactose intolerant so I’ll probably put in almond milk or something as opposed to a…normal milk. There are many options in there. Um…as far as quinoa or millet goes, I mean that is definitely far more alkalined than oats. That’s something you can also utilise as a breakfast meal. If you want it, again you can just add in a bit more water to make it a bit more soft like a cereal…and again it’s not so bad once it’s flavoured it actually tastes quite delicious.
The joys and benefits of cocoa
DK: Well oats and cinnamon are classic and great combination; last but not least I actually think I saved the best for last Mark, but looking at cacao or dark chocolate. Also seen as being in these groups but again you need to be careful of your sort of sugar and milk content.
MW: Look cocoa I think is excellent. I do have a fair amount and sometimes I actually put cocoa into my oats to make a chocolate oats. It’s like a raw organic cocoa and I throw it in there as well. It just depends on the mood that I’m in. Sometimes as I mentioned earlier soak with goji berries, but cocoa has definitely got a very high antioxidant quality and is very good.
There are some people that however are susceptible to cocoa; either get headaches or don’t feel good when they ingest cocoa. So I think it depends on the kind of person you are. I think it’s an amazing superfood something that I eat quite regularly.
I mean we even use it now in our recovery drink, we use raw cocoa now in our 32Gi recover. I just think it’s got some nice beneficial properties to it. Again if we go through a chocolate which you’ve earned, if you’ve earned it after a hard workout.
I always tell people with 70% range it’s just in reach but…if it’s just a treat or whatever you rather go for something higher like an 80 to a 90%. The problem is the higher it goes the more bitter it is and then people don’t like it.
From a health perspective the higher the cocoa content the better it is, the higher cocoa content in anything the better it is. There are some other super foods we haven’t mentioned Dave.
I think that with certain things I mentioned turmeric is a spice. But ginger is another one which I think is actually excellent. Also on the bean side there’s plenty of beans out there which could be considered to be very nutrient dense.
One very, very basic food which we haven’t mentioned which I was thinking of now from a fat protein perspective which to me is really an excellent food…I only buy free range organic, but I’m talking about eggs. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eggs.
To me it’s very beneficial a lot of people say, “Ja but it’s loaded with cholesterol.” There’s absolutely no problem in eating cholesterol. In actual fact the human body requires cholesterol in order to produce testosterone…endurance athletes need testosterone in order to help with the body function and prepare etcetera. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it um.
To me eggs are very nutrient based. I eat them quite a few times a week. Of course if you a vegan it’s something you wouldn’t be able to eat you need to have more for vegetarian based diet but I’m a big fan of eggs as well.
DK: If you have any more questions you can email coach@32Gi.com. If there’s something you feel we’ve missed out on you wanna know more about is it or isn’t it send, an email coach@32Gi.com. From myself David Katz Mr Active, and Mark Wolff we’ll join you next time on 32Gi Sports Nutrition.