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What’s So Super About “Superfoods?”

In 2017, researchers recovered over 1,500 artifacts from Cape Adare, the site of Antarctica’s oldest building. Among the spoils was an “almost edible” 106-year-old fruitcake. The delicacy’s shelf life was certainly impressive, but you may wonder why early 20th-century explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his crew brought a fruitcake on their perilous journey.

It turns out that fruitcake was the energy bar of its day. That is, fruitcake contains a high density of calories, so it was a common dish to bring on expeditions to places with inhospitable conditions or food scarcity. Fruitcake stores a lot of calories in a relatively small package, making it a convenient snack for on-the-go Antarctic explorers. In 2019 America, however, access to high-calorie food isn’t an issue for most people. Modern Americans can get plenty of calories, but what they really need are foods with high densities of nutrients.

In recent years, you may have heard people talking about the magic of so-called “superfoods.” It’s a great marketing term, but what are the facts behind it? The idea behind superfoods is that like fruitcake or energy bars are calorie-dense, they contain high concentrations of nutrients. However, it’s important to remember that it’s not a scientific label. This doesn’t mean that it’s a useless label, just that consumers should be reasonably skeptical about food items that use the term.

Healthful dietary habits can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even some cancers. Furthermore, seniors can even adjust their diets to benefit their brain health. In general, nutritional experts recommend consuming a variety of foods across categories, focusing on leafy green vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthful fats, and whole grains. Anything that one might reasonably call a “superfood” would likely fall into one of these categories, and you can’t go wrong by incorporating more nutritious foods into your diet. Examples of foods that might be labeled as “superfoods” and actually do contain high densities of nutrients include:

  • Fish – Salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, anchovies, sardines, and tuna steaks are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
  • Leafy greens – Kale, collards, spinach, swiss chard, and mustard greens contain enormous amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, and even calcium.
  • Cruciferous veggies – Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and other greens are high in fiber and vitamins yet low in calories.
  • Berries – Colorful, delicious berries are high in fiber, disease-fighting nutrients, and antioxidants.

 

There’s a wide variety of nutritious food out there, but there’s easily just as much marketing hype around foods that might not necessarily deliver on their promises. One thing’s for sure: fruitcake may be an efficient calorie source, but you won’t see any scrupulous marketers touting its nutritional value any time soon.

At Corso Atlanta, we understand the value of health and lifestyle approaches that deliver real results. Our residents have access to many health, wellness, and social activities specifically geared toward seniors. If you’re interested in learning more about assisted living, independent living, memory care, or any of the many senior living programs, amenities, and activities we offer, please contact Corso Atlanta for more information. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for updates and to check back often for new blogs.