Superfoods You Should Try

Superfoods – Healthy Choices for You and the Planet

It’s awards season in Hollywood so I’ve decided to present some awards of my own. I’ve nominated 5 foods for the 2012 Superfood Award. What makes a food a Superfood? Well, firstly it needs to be packed with health-giving nutrients, like antioxidants and flavonoids and a host of other phytonutrients that give our bodies the fuel they need. It also needs to be sustainably grown and preferably locally grown. So let’s take a look at this year’s nominees for top Superfood.

Blackberries – These humble berries are high on the list of antioxidant-packed foods. Blackberries are jam-packed with polyphenols and anthocyanins…what do they do? Well they can help to prevent cancer and heart disease. If you don’t have some growing in your back yard, you don’t have to go far to pick your own in the Comox Valley, so they score points for being local and organic. Organic blueberries have similar medicinal properties and are available locally at Nature’s Way farm.

Kale – This leafy green is the Meryl Steep of the Cabbage family of vegetables. Kale’s risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. How does it work? Kale helps the body’s detoxification system and lowers cholesterol. With over 45 different flavonoids in kale it has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Kale can be steamed and eaten like spinach, dried into kale chips, chopped into stir fries and soups and much more. I love that kale is easy to grow in a pot on a sunny spot in your yard or deck and it even grows year round.

Flax seeds – This nominee is known for its soluble fibre, which helps with well….regularity. But its exceptionally high levels of lignans are what make it a cancer fighter. Breast and prostate cancers are inhibited by these lignans. It has antioxidants and omega 3 oils (the good guys). You can purchase organic Canadian grown flax at Edilble Island, which of course is preferable over the Chinese suppliers. Grind your flax and sprinkle it on cereal, oatmeal, salads, or mix it in smoothies.

Hemp Seeds: These nutrition packed seeds have a balanced profile of essential fatty acids. In particular, their rich supply of Omega 3 fats boost brain function and work as anti-inflammatories throughout the body. Hemp provides a complete protein for vegetarians and their nutty flavour can be enjoyed sprinkled on salads, yogurt or cereal. This environmentally friendly, fast growing crop is available from organic Canadian suppliers (or from China, so read the fine print before you buy). Store them in the fridge or freezer since their oils are delicate.

Onion family – Onions, garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots are the spicy cast of characters in the onion family. Aside from adding wonderful flavour to cooking, these foods are rich in flavonoids that stimulate the production of glutathione – a potent antioxidant that enhances the liver’s elimination of toxins and carcinogens. They help prevent heart disease, cancer and enhance immune function. So be proud of your garlic breath! Most home gardens include some of these vegetables and they are easily purchased from local growers.
You’ll have to try all of this year’s nominees and decide which one is your choice for Superfood of the year.

Dr. Deidre Macdonald is a naturopathic physician who has had a medical practice in downtown Courtenay for 15 years. Contact her office at (250) 250 897-0235 or via this website.