February 03, 2013

Top Superfoods - What is all the hype about?

I've posted an interesting article here taken from the Sydney Morning Herald examining the latest super foods commented on by nutritionist and chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin. Popular chef Pete Evans was slammed in the media for advertising his daily diet, which consisted of the super foods listed. Critics claimed the foods were overpriced and falsely superior to more readily available fruits and vegetables. I am interested, do you eat these foods and feel they are worth the price and improve your overall health? 

Activated Nuts

Soaked over night in water to release the enzymes and then dehydrated to reinject the crunch, you can't miss the price difference between activated and 'average' nuts. Activated nuts cost around $20 for 500 grams. But, you can always DIY.

Many at-home 'activators' like Evans, add a little celtic sea salt for flavour. The current superstar of the salt world, Bingley-Pullin says celtic sea salt is not processed and contains higher levels of manganese, a trace mineral that helps the body form connective tissue, sex hormones and plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

As for #activatedalmonds, "what we do know is that ... soaking nuts increases the hydration content," Bingley-Pullin says. Protein doesn't contain high hydration levels so it takes longer to digest, she explains. Eating activated nuts "means some people don't have that sluggish digestion feeling."
But,  Diversi explains that the extra digestion time isn't a bad thing. "Not necessarily. [While] activated nuts are said to have more enzymes, nutrients and are easier to digest...  the body can process nuts really well already and you want your body to do work to process foods," she says.

Cultured/Fermented Vegetables

Pushed to pickling point with the aid of bacteria, fermented vegetables include sauerkraut, kombu and kim chi. They have lots of beneficial bacteria, Bingley-Pullin says. "They're great for you from a digestive point of view," she explains. "I have sauerkraut in sandwiches or on salad... I love the flavours."
Bacteria are the oldest living organisms on earth, says molecular biologist, Bonnie Bassler in this TED talk, and despite their bad press bacteria can do wonders for us. "They educate your immune system to keep bad microbes out."
If you want to make your own, Sarah Wilson offers a nice recipe and tips here.

Alkalised water

Instead of saying he drank alkalised, "Maybe I just should've just said filtered water?" Evans says. "We have a portable mineral pot ($500) water filter which rids tap water from potential carcinogens (chorine, chemicals, bacteria etc).
"I realise there's plenty of controversy around alkalised water, but I would rather choose this option over drinking tap water or bottled water, as it works out cheaper in the long run, and is environmentally friendly."
Neither Diversi or Bingley-Pullin is convinced about alkalised water (around $4,000 for a Kangen Alkaline Water filter). "They say increased alkalinity is easier for the kidneys [to process], but there's no hard data," Bingley-Pullin says. "What's wrong with good, old-fashioned tap water? And maybe a filter for heavy metals."
"Alkalised water doesn't have fluoride," Diversi says. "There's a big camp against fluoride, equally there are people who are advocates. The research doesn't show fluoride is negative.
"Alkalised water is also supposed to have more minerals, but we don't drink water for minerals. We drink it for hydration."

Apple cider vinegar

It has been claimed that Apple cider vinegar can cure head lice, aid weight loss and ease digestion.
"People do find digestion better with apple cider vinegar," Diversi says.
"I like apple cider vinegar, " Bingley Pullin agrees. "It increases bile-production [which] is one of the elements that helps us digest food. For me personally it's a little strong on its own. I prefer lemon with water but, I love to cook with it and use it in dressings."
Preliminary studies have found that apple cider vinegar may lower blood glucose levels and high blood pressure. But, the evidence is hardly conclusive and some of the potential risks, when taken in excess, include lowered potassium levels and reduced bone density.


"It's blood-enriching... and high in iodine - which is great for thyroid health - unless you are hyperthyroid," Bingley-Pullin says of spirulina, which costs between $10 and $350. "Just make sure you're not adding in something you don't need."
Diversi is also a fan. Cautiously. "Concentrated greens are high in antioxidants, high in nutrients - goji berries are too. Some people say they feel better [for taking it]. But, you don't want to replace veggies and you can get those nutrients from other foods."
At the end of the day, both Diversi and Bingley-Pullin agree that although these 'super foods' have benefits, they are often prohibitively expensive for most people and their claims do not always add up.
"You never want health to be an exclusive thing," Bingley-Pullin says. "It has to be accessible - it's easy to be healthy by making smart decisions - eating lean proteins, limiting sugar, alcohol and caffeine and lots of whole foods."
As for Bingley-Pullin's initial question of whether it's worth it. Diversi says, ""My whole philosophy is to do 'good enough'. Eat well and eat whole foods - foods you can find naturally... super foods are not unhealthy, but they are unnecessary.
"The answer is it's not going to make you that much healthier."

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/dissecting-pete-evans-diet-20121113-29967.html#ixzz2JuJihMNy

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