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Superfoods

The Superfood Strategy 

            Have you ever heard the term Superfood, and wondered what it exactly meant?  Although you can define this term in several different ways, a Superfood usually signifies food item that packs a powerful nutrient rich punch. Products coined Superfoods contain high amounts of antioxidants, phytonutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Superfoods include, but are not limited to, certain kinds of berries, vegetables, fish and dark chocolate, all of which can be found in the dining halls on a regular basis.

Berries: Many different types of fruits make the cut for the Superfoods list, but berries tops the list. Blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants which may prevent or repair cell damage.  Strawberries also contain antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease, all while being an excellent source of Vitamin C. Strawberries actually contain more Vitamin C per serving than oranges!

Vegetables:  In case you need a few more reasons to eat your vegetables, dark leafy greens including spinach, kale, broccoli, and bok choy contain carotenoids. Lutein, a type of carotenoid, defends against macular degeneration, a type of eye disease

Fish: Salmon and tuna contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Both are beneficial in the prevention of heart disease by increasing HDL “good” cholesterol. Vitamin D is also prevalent in both types of fish and may help protect against osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the bones. Keep an eye out for salmon and tuna as they are frequently available in the dining halls.

Dark Chocolate: Chocolate may provide some health benefits. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of flavonoids, which act as antioxidants and may decrease high blood pressure. These flavanoids may also act as an anti-inflammatory agent and may improve heart health. Keep in mind, chocolate still contains fat, so enjoy in moderation.

Try to incorporate more of these Superfoods into your diet the next time you are in the dining hall, but always include them in the context of a well-balanced meal.

Eat More Superfoods, It Won’t Kale You!

Author: Mary Tursi, Reviewed By:  Sue A. Shapses, Ph.D., R.D-Department of Nutritional Sciences.
References:15 Superfoods: http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/documents/orthopaedics/files/15%20Superfoods-2.pdf. Accessed September 18, 2012; Huang et al. Survey of antioxidant capacity and phenolic composition of blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry in Nanjing* http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3274736/pdf/JZUSB13-0094.pdf Accessed September 17, 2012; Duyff, Roberta Larson. ADA: Complete food and nutrition guide. Second edition, 2002. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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