Friday, May 3, 2013

THE MED BEAT: Superfoods!


Food for thought;

I once wrote an article about the health benefits of spices, however for those of you that may not be as into cooking, or perhaps you just don’t eat much spicy food, or maybe you just want some simple, healthy food advice, I have compiled a list of superfoods, yes, foods that are super, just as they are!

First things first, I have three things to clarify for this list.

First of all, these foods are not listed in a ‘more-super-than’ ranking or order, they are all equal in their superfood qualities!

Second, I am not using the word ‘superfood’ because I am lazy and simply falling back on a cliché, in fact, I couldn’t mean it more than the word itself describes: these foods are really quite super! There are many words that could also describe these foods, such as magnificent, magic, superb, wonderful, glorious, marvelous.... the list goes on. They are foods that are particularly good for you with few negative drawbacks. I am by no means recommending you eat these foods to excess, or that you eat only these foods, I’m just saying that they are a great and simple addition to your diet.

Third, this is not a finite list, but only a place to get started. Nor is this list overly insightful, in fact, it is quite likely that you know many of these foods already, but you may not know why they are good for you... I hope that in reading this you come to see some of the many hidden or taken-for-granted benefits packed inside certain foods and that this inspires you to go out and find more superfoods and spread the good word to everyone! This is only a list of some common, healthy foods, but there are many more out there and I encourage you to find them and share them with us by commenting on this article below.

Here we go!

Loaded with anthocyanins, blueberries are a wonderful source of antioxidants which can improve your vision and also promote brain function; two things that most college students often complain they need help with.

They say a glass of red each night can do a lot of great things for you. Now that doesn’t mean holding off for the week and then drinking ten glasses on Friday night, but it does mean that a little red wine once in a while, or even daily, can be quite good for you. Red wine has been proven to raise levels of HDL cholesterol (this is GOOD cholesterol... you want it!), and like blueberries, carries a ton of antioxidants.

When I say dark, I mean go as dark as you can find it, like 80% cacao or more! Dark chocolate has been found to contain a potent dose of disease fighting compounds as well as strong antioxidants. It may also help reduce BAD cholesterol...

Also known by its less-famous but far more awesome name Alligator Pear, avocados contain plenty of fiber and are rich in monounsaturated fats (GOOD fats!). They also contain lutein, an antioxidant that appears to be most active in protecting your eyes and skin... Sign me up!

Some people love ‘em, some hate ‘em, whichever you are, eggs are full of amino acids and as such are actually one of the most protein-rich foods in our world.
Sidenote: recent studies have shown that eating egg yolks isn’t actually as bad for you as previously thought, in fact, it totally fine to eat the yolk!

Like avocados, almonds also contain plenty of cholesterol-lowering fibers and monounsaturated fat. They are great on their own, but if you’re not a huge fan of plain almonds, California Almond Board for some ideas!

Yes that’s right, Ancient! Most modern wheat has been either genetically modified or crossbred and therefore doesn’t always carry as much of the nutritional punch that can be found in Heirloom or Ancient grains. Grains such as Amaranth, Kamut khorasan, and spelt contain much more protein, antioxidants, and minerals than do their more modern counterparts. Many people also find that they taste better too!

Looking for protein? Fiber? Antioxidants? and also perhaps some minerals?
Look no further! You can find a full range of all of these wonderful and important things in seeds such as flax seeds, chia seeds, and quinoa seeds!

Growing up, I absolutely detested oatmeal; I couldn’t eat it. However, after looking into why some people are so keen to have oats for breakfast, I found some fascinating reasons. Oats are rich in protein and fiber, and like seeds, they also carry a host of minerals including iron, magnesium, zinc, and calcium! Now although this is some encouraging motivation to get oats into your diet, if you’re like me, it may not change your opinion on oatmeal, so I found some ideas for using oats in your cooking: check out Eating Well's oat recipes.

The benefits of eating fish are well documented and studied. With salmon (and other fatty fish), their benefits, according to the American Heart Association reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, and even depression. Just try to stay away from farmed and/or frozen salmon, and do your best to buy from someone who is catching wild salmon in a way that supports sustainable agriculture!

All of these foods can be found at your local grocery store, so go out and get them! Get healthy! and get super!

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Medical Section Columnist, Kurtis Morrish:

My name is Kurtis Morrish. I graduated from Cal last year as an Integrative Biology major. I am now in the process of applying to medical school in the hopes of one day serving people as a family doctor. By no means do I write to you as an M.D., but I have extensive experience doing all kinds of scientific research; boiling-down long, dry, mumbo-jumbo-dense medical journals into a reduction that is a little sweeter, useful, and hopefully informative for you. I hope to learn as much from my writing as you do, so please hit me up with further questions, concerns, or comments!