In recent years, media pundits around the world have proclaimed the extraordinary value of so-called super foods. Blueberries, broccoli, and especially kale have been described as possessing remarkable, almost magical, properties. What is it about these foods that make them so good for you?
From a basic perspective, adding fresh fruits and vegetables of all types to your daily diet is a very smart way to help improve your current levels of health and well-being. Fresh fruits and vegetables are so important that many national agencies and organizations have promoted the “five to stay alive” rule – these groups recommend eating at least five portions of fruits and vegetables each day.1
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide numerous health benefits, many of which are based upon the actions of biochemicals known as phytonutrients. Certain of these formerly mysterious compounds stimulate enzyme activity and others have actions similar to those of hormones. Many phytonutrients are powerful antioxidants that circulate throughout the body, scooping up and neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are a normal byproduct of cellular metabolism, but too many of them will cause a lot of problems. Excess free radicals have, for example, been linked to development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.2,3 Blueberries, broccoli, and kale are categorized as “super foods” owing to the abundance of phytonutrients they contain and make available to those who consume them.
The takeaway is not to load up on kale, broccoli, and blueberries in an attempt to make up for years of less-than-optimal dietary choices. Rather, the goal is to begin, today, to implement a healthful, balanced food plan. Diets lacking fresh fruits and vegetables in general, and lacking super foods in particular, will not provide you and your family with the resources needed to enjoy productive, energy-filled days. Resolving to follow the “five-to-stay-alive” plan will add literally missing ingredients to your daily health regime. As you upgrade your nutrition, you’re automatically upgrading the functioning of all your body’s systems.
With sufficient dietary phytonutrients, you can help prevent chronic disease, strengthen the immune system, combat the effects of obesity, and obtain numerous anti-aging benefits.
The vast array of advantages that will likely ensue include more restful sleep; enhanced skin tone and muscle tone; increased reserves of energy throughout the day; and improved ability to focus and complete tasks successfully. Improved peace of mind will naturally occur as a consequence of these benefits, and an untapped reservoir of creativity may be revealed. Super foods truly provide super benefits.
1Liu RH: Health-promoting components of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Adv Nutr 4(3):384S-392S, 2013
2Wu TY, et al: Pharmacogenetics, pharmacogenomics and epigenetics of nrf2-regulated xenobioticmetabolizing enzymes and transporters by dietary phytochemical and cancer chemoprevention. Curr Drug Metab 14(6):688-694, 2013
3Pasko P, et al: Rutabaga (Brassica napus L. var. napobrassica) seeds, roots, and sprouts: a novel kind of food with antioxidant properties and proapoptotic potential in Hep G2 hepatoma cell line. J Med Food 16(8):749-759, 2013