Nutrition powerhouse! Superfoods for all | The Financial Express

Nutrition powerhouse! Superfoods for all

There are multiple ways to include naturally dense food items in your diet including some local Indian varieties

health, health sector
Although healthy, superfoods cannot offer all the vital nutrients a person requires, experts opine.

While navigating through the health landscape, chances are that you might have come across the term ‘superfoods’. Although there is no specific guideline to club a food item in this category, these are generally naturally dense foods offering a wide range of health benefits.

Dietician Neha Pathania of Paras Hospitals in Gurugram defines superfoods as a “nutrition powerhouse” offering nutrients such as antioxidants, phytochemicals (chemicals in plants responsible for colours and smells), fibre, essential fatty acids, omega 3, vitamins, and minerals. Turmeric, berries, sweet potatoes, Indian gooseberry (amla), salmon, kale, açaí berries, kefir, almonds, and green leafy vegetables are some examples.

“Although most of the superfoods are plant-based, fish and dairy products also fall into this category,” says Pathania, adding: “To be called a ‘superfood’, any food must offer great health benefits. For example, they must have properties to protect the organs from toxins, help lower cholesterol, maintain blood pressure, regulate metabolism, and regulate inflammation.”

full of keffir, milk and yogurt cups liquid on wooden table

The desi kind

From salmon and kale to acai berries and kefir, there are numerous superfoods available worldwide. India, too, is endowed with several such food items that are indigenous to the country. “Ginger, garlic, turmeric, nuts, and seeds are widely known Indian superfoods. However, there are some lesser-known ones, such as moringa (drumstick), rajgira (Amaranth), and basil seeds,” says Deepti Khatuja, head clinical nutritionist at Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram. While chia and flax seeds have become much more popular, basil seeds come half their cost, she adds.

Sreemathy Venkatraman, a wellness nutritionist, clinical dietician, and founder of Mitha Ahara: Eat to Live, recommends including “turmeric, amla, moringa, fresh coconut, raw and ripe bananas, and buttermilk in your diet”.

“While we have a range of superfoods available, nuts and seeds are the best,” recommends Pathania. “Berries and walnuts are some of the most nutritious ones. One can include them in their breakfast for an energetic day ahead. One can replace their everyday snack with makhana, ghee is best for the skin and comes with a lot of additional benefits if taken in the right proportions. Walnuts and other nuts, seeds, etc can be consumed regularly in appropriate amounts. Instead of investing in junk and adulterated cheap items available in the market, you can try having these foods for healthy living,” she adds.

On if it is better to include Indian superfoods in the diet compared to the foreign kinds, Khatuja answers in the affirmative but recommends having a healthy and balanced diet.

Healthy food clean eating selection: fruit, vegetable, seeds, superfood, cereal, leaf vegetable on gray concrete background

Is it sufficient?

Although healthy, superfoods cannot offer all the vital nutrients a person requires, experts opine. “Superfoods are not sufficient. For proper nourishment, have a balanced diet with all the food groups included,” says Venkatraman.

Workout is important, too. “To stay healthy, get in touch with a dietician and also chalk out a workout routine. At times mental health can be a hindrance if not paid attention to. Hence, along with a proper diet and workout, cater to your mental health too,” Pathania says.

Meanwhile, Venkatraman stresses upon eating “colourful fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and are in season that are rich in phytochemicals, which protect the cells and the body.”

Also read: Long Weekend Travel Plans: Best and luxurious destinations to visit in India to celebrate Makar Sankranti and Pongal

Not just a gimmick

Without a proper guideline to characterise superfoods, many experts have dubbed the notion as just a marketing gimmick. However, this does not diminish the fact that “each of these items is packed with a lot of nutrients (antioxidants, vitamins, or minerals) and provide you with extra health benefits,” says Pathania. “Even if it seems to be a gimmick, we are aware of the benefits that these foods have. Walnuts are at the top of the superfood category, and we are well aware of their commendable benefits. Berries, legumes, nuts, seeds, garlic, etc, how can they be gimmicks?” she questions.

Fried salmon fillets with kale, dill and lemon

Venkatraman concurs with the view that “foods categorised as superfoods always had that nutritional value plus some functions like antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic, etc. Turmeric or curcumin compound is a powerful anti-inflammatory food. Similarly, antioxidants are present in colourful fruits like berries, green tea, etc. However, catchy headlines, consistent marketing, infomercials, and social media do cause a lot of hype, and people perceive these as ‘healthier’ and eat certain foods to prevent certain health conditions like weight gain, obesity, diabetes, etc. Yet, there are certain foods that are healthy, have certain functions and roles when eaten regularly, but do not just go by the claim ‘super grain’, ‘superfood’, etc.”

Also read: MV Ganga Vilas Launch: PM Modi flags off world’s longest river cruise, trip to cost 20 lakhs; Here’s how to book tickets

Including it in your diet

Start the day right by making superfoods a part of your morning routine. The first 30 minutes of your day are important to your well being for the rest of the day. You can include some of the tastiest and most powerful superfoods in your breakfast or an early morning snack. Examples are chia seeds in oatmeal or fresh berries in low-fat Greek yogurt.

There are several other ways to include superfoods in your diet. “Add them to your breakfast, replace them with your everyday quick unhealthy options, and carry a small container of nuts and seeds with your lunch box to have them without skipping,” recommends Pathania.

“If you continue doing this, after some days it will be a habit. These days, YouTube has a lot of healthy recipes which can be used to include superfoods creatively,” she adds.

Get live Share Market updates and latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download Financial Express App for latest business news.

First published on: 15-01-2023 at 01:40 IST