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Posts Tagged ‘scurvy’

Dietotherapy with Superfoods

Superfood is Beneficial for your Health

Blueberries are Superfoods with lots of antioxidantsSo what exactly are superfoods? According to wikipedia, superfood is a term that sometimes is used to describe food with high phytonutrient and antioxidant content that some may believe confers health benefits as a result. For example, blueberries are often considered a superfood (or superfruit) because they contain significant amounts of antioxidants, anthocyanins, vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber. Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are plant derived chemical compounds that are known for their potential health promoting properties.

Phytochemicals have been used as therapeutic drugs for millennia. A popular example of this is salicin, which has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties which was originally extracted from the white willow tree and later synthetically produced to create the commonly used over the counter drug aspirin. Superfoods though as a modern term are more specifically found in the form of everyday foods we can eat to enhance our overall health, as opposed to specific herbal applications to help remedy specific body ailments.

An example of a modern superfood which we eat everyday that is also a remedy to a disease are oranges, tangerines and other fruit which are rich in vitamin C, can counteract scurvy which is a disease due to vitamin C deficiency. Garlic also behaves as a food and as a remedy for bacillary dysentery.

That being said, knowing which types of phytochemicals are found in which types of plants is great to know if we are looking to relieve and help heal specific ailments. It is interesting to note that there is no legal definition of the term ‘Superfood’. For example dieticians and nutritional scientists for the most part do not use the term superfoods as a common term among their peers. Also many claim that consuming particular foodstuffs do not actually confer an actual health benefit. To me this is actually quite shocking because it obvious to me that some foods will have a completely different impact on the body than others.

I don’t need a nutritionist to tell me this, I can actually feel the difference bodily. Not only that but taking food as medicine has been practiced by ancient cultures for millennia. The Chinese especially come to mind, they even have a specific term called Dietotherapy – which refers to the treatment of disease by taking common foodstuffs.

These foodstuffs in China are sometimes called by the name of medicinal foods. Modern western medicine though does not recognize everyday ‘food’ as medicine, so knowing this you can understand why western nutritionists and scientists frown on the term superfoods.

Simply put, food contains the various nutrients which provide the energy supply for the body’s growth and activities. Nutrients are essential for people during illness to overcome pathogenic factors and repair tissue damage, and to resist and prevent diseases while in good health. All foods have different chemical composition and nutritional values, so it makes sense that some foods will invigorate and heal more so than others.

Superfoods come in all shapes and sizes and there is no definitive ‘superfood list’. This is simply because it is not an official diet and medical term, as stated above. So why is phytonutrient or phytochemical content important to knowing what food are superfoods?

Quite simply as I stated above, phytonutrients or phytochemicals are plant derived chemical compounds that are known for their potential health promoting properties. Some animal derived foods are also known as superfoods.

Here is a good list I have compiled of some of the top superfoods that you can incorporate into your life:

SUPERFOOD ORAC*
Cloves, ground 314,446
Sumac, bran, raw 312,400
Cinnamon, ground 267,536
Sorghum, bran, hi-tannin 240,000
Oregano, dry 200,129
Turmeric, ground 159,277
Acai berry, freeze-dried 102,700
Cocoa, dry, unsweetened 80,933
Cumin seeds 76,800
Maqui berries, powder 75,000
Parsley, dried 74,349
Holy Basil, dried 67,553

*ORAC = Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (Antioxidant Measurement Scale)