I recently attended a seminar presented by our hospital’s director of nutrition concerning the importance of superfoods. He presented 10 superfoods he believes to be essential for a healthy diet. Until that moment, I had always thought you could just eat your fruits and veggies and then call it a day. However, this seminar made me realize that the fruits, vegetables and meats I purchase could be significantly lacking in nutrition.
Now don’t get me wrong, any fruit or vegetable is going to be beneficial for you. But if you’re anything like me, you want to get the most bang for your buck! If I’m going to sit down and eat brussel sprouts with dinner, then I want to get the absolute most that I can out of them. By the end of the superfoods seminar, I discovered how much nutrition I was missing out on because of my daily choices.
Born to be Wild
Salmon is one of the top ten superfoods. The nutritionist stressed that you need to purchase wild salmon as opposed to farmed salmon. Farmed salmon are raised in a cramped, fenced off sections of water, giving them little room to move. Unable to swim long distances and against currents, farmed salmon don’t use their muscles like those in the wild. Due to the increased mobility and rigorous swimming conditions, wild salmons receive more nutrition each day.
With little room to roam, the caged salmon can’t escape its waste. Growing among an abundance of filth allows more bacteria into their system. This prevents the salmon from becoming strong and healthy. Finally, caged salmon eat the same food day in and day out. Wild Salmon, however, have a varied diet. Consuming a mixture of foods exposes the salmon to a variety of nutrients.
Overall, a healthy salmon produces a tastier, nutrient packed meal. Makes sense right? Once the nutritionist pointed this out, I couldn’t believe buying wild never occurred to me before. I guess hindsight really is 20/20!
Bonus! During my research, I discovered that eating wild salmon is better for the environment because fish farms produce a high amount of waste. Make sure that the wild salmon you purchase was sustainably captured so no other creatures become collateral loss in the fishing process.
Keep it Local
This probably goes without saying, but when it comes to the produce we consume, local is always better. Blueberries were expressed as a staple in a superfood-rich diet and blueberries from your local farmers market is the best route to go. Anything mass produced lacks quality, because the goal with the massive organizational farms is to grow and sell every single piece of produce for profit.
If they don’t sell a lot of blueberries, then they don’t make money. The produce at a farmers market is grown in a smaller farm making it easier for the farmers to personally tend their crops. In the larger farms that supply grocery stores, machinery takes over the role of a farmer, subtracting that personal touch.
Local farms also practice crop rotation. In the farming industry, the companies focus on growing the same produce year in and year out. For a local farmer, different crops are grown in the soil each year. Crop rotation enriches the soil with a mixture of nutrients, uses less fertilizer to control pests and decreases the chance of soil erosion.
Bonus again! Eating locally drastically cuts down on carbon dioxide emissions. The travel time for your food is a fraction of what it would be if the produce you purchased was from the grocery store. This means it is fresher, packed with nutrients and is environmentally friendly!
Cooked to Perfection
This last tip is tricky because it exposes the fine line between ensuring tasty foods and healthy foods. In the seminar, it was mentioned that broccoli is making a come back to regain the throne from brussel sprouts as a signature superfood. I enjoy eating broccoli after it has been boiled, making it softer and not crunchy. I have since learned that this is not ideal. Broccoli is a heat sensitive vegetable and when it is cooked too long key nutrients, such as vitamin B5, are broken down and depleted from the food. This happens to many vegetables that are heat sensitive such as, peas, beet greens, cauliflower, kale, avocado, turnip greens, spinach, brussel sprouts, sunflower seeds and bell peppers.
To get the maximum nutritional benefit from theses vegetables, it is recommended to eat them raw. Now I don’t know about you, but that is not going to happen for me (except with the spinach and sunflower seeds I toss into my salads). So, what you need to do with these vegetables is cook them at low heat while not exposing them to a lot of water. Try roasting them with some olive oil, or steaming them for 10 minutes. That way they are cooked to taste better, but not overcooked where they have lost a substantial amount of nutrients. If you do decide to boil your broccoli, save the liquid for a soup stock! That way you can still benefit from the nutrients, without having to cook your broccoli a different way!
It’s okay if you are a bit hesitant. When I read similar articles, I struggle with the desire to improve my health and changing my daily habits. If you can’t imagine yourself eating raw spinach, then don’t! Yes, you may be missing out on extra nutrients, but that doesn’t mean it becomes completely devoid of nutrition! It still has nutritional benefits regardless.
After learning these three tips, I now make sure I buy wild fish, fruits and veggies from the farmers market, and I cook some vegetable less than others. Every now and then I cook my vegetables by steaming them, rather than boiling. The important part is that I now make a conscious effort to follow these rules as often as I can.