day 11 Super Foods to the Rescue

Popeye had spinach. What’s your Super Food?

My super food is parsley. It’s so green  and rich. Whenever I eat it, I feel as if I’m transfusing myself with green, alive goodness. 

Time magazine’s  “41 Superfoods, Ranked by How Healthy They Are” (umm, guys? you meant “healthful”) reports on a study by an associate professor of Sociology (ummm, guys? anybody concerned that there’s one researcher and nutrition is not her field?). 

Jennifer Di Noia ranked food by “17 nutrients considered by the food experts at the United Nations and the Institute of Medicine to be important to good health and to lowering risk of heart disease and cancer: potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K. She then combed the scientific literature to calculate how many nutrients they contained per calorie of energy they provided (based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet); the higher the value, the more of a powerhouse food it was.” 

Using calories is one way to calculate but I’m not clear why she didn’t rate by consumption.  In other words, imagine a food that is 100 calories per four cups and another that’s 100 calories per two cups. To get the full nutritional value, I gotta eat all four cups, using Di Noia’s rating.  I don’t eat foods by calories. I eat them by amounts and some are more calorie dense, particularly foods with fats such as avocados or nuts. I  think Di Noia’s ratings are better considered Super Vitamin foods. She’s telling us which foods have the most vitamins.

She also chose not to rate phytochemicals, which meant blueberries didn’t make the list. Phytochemicals are responsible for the color in food and that’s why you’ve been advised to eat the rainbow. Phytochemicals are thought to help protect against cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol. They’re supposed to be good for our bone health, eye sight and skin. It is unclear why Di Noia didn’t factor phytochemicals into her rating system. 

At the top of her list is watercress. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten watercress. If it doesn’t show up at the farmers’ market or my local co-op, I might miss it. 

So what should you do with this list? First, don’t take it too seriously. We get all sorts of food news and warnings and I think they all boil down to this: eat lots of produce, all different kinds, and enjoy yourself. You might want to post this list and check them off as you eat them, just for fun.