Superfoods, and the Humble Blueberry



“What is a superfood?“

I get asked this question all the time, probably because it’s well-known that I’m into health food. When I sat down to actually determine what a superfood was, I realised I wasn’t entirely sure. I did the standard Google search and found this definition: “A nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.”


Following on from my last post, in which I made the point that all wholefoods have different (and valuable) nutrients that together aid our bodies in different ways, I wondered if any of these so called ‘superfoods’ would still fit that definition if that was all someone ate. Would chia seeds still be “especially beneficial for health and well-being”? An extreme example, sure, I don’t expect anyone to live entirely off chia seeds, but I do like that it sheds light on the significance of a varied diet.


Which leads us to the humble blueberry, or sweet potato, or even just a regular potato! Each have nutrients that the other doesn’t have. In just some of the research that I found, it’s shown that blueberries can help protect against some forms of cancer and heart disease, as well as offsetting some of the effects of aging.[1] In another study, I found that Goji berries (more likely to be named a superfood) were shown to protect red blood cells and mitochondria from oxidative damage. And one of the antioxidants that goji berries contain, called Zeaxanthin, may even help promote eye health[2]. I don’t know about you, but I want to experience all of these benefits!


I also wanted to take this opportunity to share a personal experience of mine, to encourage people to be wary when it comes to the next ‘superfood’. I stand by my comment last week that there is no one ‘right’ food or diet; we are all wired so differently. Now, I don’t want to give maca a bad name, this is purely my experience and just an example of how bodies work differently, but as a generally pretty happy person I found myself quite upset for lengthy periods of time last year and didn’t feel like my usual self. I was pretty adamant that something had changed and I wasn’t willing to surrender to the idea that I was depressed and needed to see someone about it.


So I embarked on a mission to research and reflect on the past year to try and determine what factors may have contributed to this mood shift. I’m very vocal about the fact that I think food has more than just physical impacts on us and I was considering that maybe I had changed something in my diet around the time that these erratic emotional mood swings came on. It took quite a bit of thought and reflection and conversations with various people who knew me well before someone suggested that it sounded like a hormone imbalance.


Something clicked in my mind when I heard the phrase ‘hormone imbalance’ and I remembered reading the benefits of maca previously, one of those being; ‘balances hormones’. I had been consuming maca on almost a daily basis, so I wondered if it was possible that this food may have disrupted my ‘originally balanced’ hormones. Low and behold, I haven’t touched the stuff since, and I now feel back to my normal self. Who knows, maybe it was all a placebo effect, or maybe maca is a superfood that isn’t good for me.


I’m all for superfoods, but let’s not forget the value of the other wholefoods we have. You don’t need to spend excessive amounts of money on the next superfood in order to be healthy!


Wake up to a less expensive smoothie: choc-blueberry, it’s simple, it’s quick to make, and consume for that matter!


(Recipe here)


[1] CANDY SAGON, W. P. (2005, Jul 05). NUTRITION, 'health halo' boosting blueberry demand A boom in sales, fresh, frozen or dried. Newsday Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.usyd.edu.au/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/docview/279991352?accountid=14757

[2] Zhang, J. (2013). Antioxidant properties of goji berry (Order No. 1537551). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1365234082). Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.usyd.edu.au/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/docview/1365234082?accountid=14757


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