Superfoods  – myth or magic?

Are you buying the superfood hype; either literally or figuratively?  These foods have been in the press for the last few years but recently new magic morsels have been added including lentils, quinoa, chills and green tea.

Its worth remembering there is no official definition of a “superfood” and the EU has banned health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence.

So do certain foods deserve that badge of honour?

What makes a food ‘Super'; they often contain higher than average amounts of antioxidants or compounds that can keep the body healthy and potentially help fight some diseases.  In that respect foods like blueberries, broccoli, oily fish, beetroot juice, dark chocolate and to a lesser extent red wine all deserve praise as they have high levels of compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids

homemade chocolate bar

But so do blackberries, carrots, apples, oats, nuts, red cabbage, raspberries, flaxseeds, and most fruits and vegetables.  And importantly they are often cheaper than their ‘superfood’ cousins

The superfood debate got the attention of BBC radio Leicester, so I joined them for a discussion along with Sangita the owner of a local Leicester deli.

Click here to listen to the interview (15 minutes)


fruit-and-vegTo eat a ‘superfood’ rich diet we agreed that it should contain more fruit and veg than we currently eat.  Incidentally, did you know that only about 30% of the UK adult population get their 5-a-day.

cakesTry and reduce your level of processed foods; anything from ready meals, cured meats to pastries and cakes

Go for variety and moderation; the occasional treat is fine


Drink within safe alcohol limits (max 14 units a week) a small glass (125ml) of red wine can be beneficial

Stay hydrated with the original ‘superfood'; Water

In other words adopt a more Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of wholegrain, pulses, vegetables, fruit and olive oil and you will feel “SUPER




Healthy eating – Fact and fiction

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

In general all foods can form part of a healthy balanced diet as long as you practice portion control and don’t eat too much of any one group

Fruit and sugar

fruit-image-for-5-2-flyer1It is true fruits contain sugar, in the form of fructose.  But unlike pure sugar they also contains fibre, water, polyphenols, minerals and vitamins.   I would always advocate trying to eat most of your fruit whole, so you access all the nutrients, you also help your digestion by chewing the food and releasing digestive enzymes. And go for variety, red, green, yellow, orange or purple; they’re all good Homemade smoothies will count towards your five a day, but try not to peel the fruit and add some veggies for extra fibre and nutrients. A tablespoon of ordinary porridge oats will add soluble fibre; again this will slow down the rate at which the smoothie (and sugar) is absorbed keeping you fuller for longer and balancing out your blood sugar levels.

Steer clear of shop bought varieties unless it is an occasional treat as they often contain higher amounts of sugar and preservatives


IMG_3503If you don’t get enough fluid you may feel tired, have poor concentration, get headaches and not perform at your best. Try and aim for 6-8 glasses of water a day. But other liquids can also count towards that tally – green tea, black coffee, milk (and non dairy milks), weak squashes, tea, coconut water, herbal teas etc. Water is still considered the best for hydration. It is also widely available, contains no calories and is free from your tap. For the record, alcohol does not count!


Couples eating habits

IMG_5377The latest research shows that middle aged couples who develop the same eating habits could increase their risk of becoming obese.  But the opposite may also be true; if one person eats healthily their partner may imitate those choices



Red wine

IMG_5006Contains some antioxidants that can offer some protection from heart disease. This protection is greater for men and post menopausal women. The benefit is lost if you consume more than 2 units a day, or one 175 ml glass



Carbohydrates from bread, rice, pasta and potatoes

WholegrainsA maximum of a 1/3rd of our diet should come from this group, and preferably wholegrain as they contain more vitamins and minerals and importantly more fibre; this helps us to keep fuller for longer by releasing energy slowly. Wholegrain carbs are also linked to a reduction in cholesterol and better digestive health.  A portion is generally 75g (uncooked weight)

What foods form part of your healthy eating regime?