Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet

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9781770852563: Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet
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Praise for the first edition:
"A solid beginner's reference, especially for those seeking the authority of medical studies."
-- Library Journal

"Recommended."
-- American Reference Books Annual 2010

Over 80 superfood entries updated with the latest health research discoveries.

Since this comprehensive reference was first published, major studies have reinforced the importance and potential value of obtaining nutrients from foods rather than supplements. Many of the studies have discovered previously unknown health benefits of great significance, such as a reduced risk for dementia with the consumption of blueberries.

In all, over 80 entries in this new edition have had their "Healthy Evidence" section updated to reflect the outcome of major reputable medical studies, including:

  • Garlic supplements are beneficial for cirrhosis patients
  • Cherries will lessen the frequency of gout attacks
  • Soybean consumption is effective in lowering cholesterol
  • Kale inhibits the growth of human colon cancer cells

Studies have also confirmed that Chia seed is a superfood for its protective effects against heart disease.

Superfoods is organized in broad categories: Vegetables; Mushrooms; Legumes; Fruits; Nuts and Oils; Herbs and Spices; Grains; Meat, Seafood, and Dairy; Beverages and Treats; and Nutritional Supplements. Each entry notes the food's origin, its seasonal availability and nutritional values, tips on how to add it to an eating plan and how to optimize its nutrients and phytochemicals.

Nutrient breakdowns are derived from the USDA's Nutrient Database, and "The Healthy Evidence" refers to published peer-reviewed studies available from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health database. The book closes with Nutritional Tables, a quick-reference guide to the nutritional content of the "superfoods" listed in the book. Star ratings indicate the most notable nutrients in each superfood. With Superfoods, readers will get the most nutritional bang for their buck.

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About the Author:

Tonia Reinhard, MS, RD, is Program Director for the Coordinated Program in Dietetics and Course Director for Clinical Nutrition in the School of Medicine at Wayne State University, Michigan. Tonia has written several books, including The Clinical Dietitian's Essential Pocket Guide and The Vitamin Sourcebook. She is currently President of the Michigan Dietetic Association, and her experience as a practitioner includes clinical nutrition, clinical management, and community nutrition.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

The meaning of the word "superfood" has evolved over time and taken on specific connotations in different parts of the world. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the term dates back to two early usages in print media in 1915 and 1949. The OED entry provides an adequate general definition: "food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being." In recent years, however, some more specific definitions have had to be created, partly to protect consumers against unscrupulous marketing practices.

A concept that has been widely employed to help better define the meaning of "superfood" is that of the "nutrient density" of foods, whereby foods are described as either "nutrient-dense" (or "nutrient-rich") or "nutrient-poor." The so-called essential nutrients are compounds that we need to grow and maintain our bodies and can only obtain from food; they include protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, and vitamins. A nutrient-dense or nutrient-rich food is one that provides significant levels of these nutrients in a reasonable number of calories. A useful way to get to grips with this concept is to think of your optimal daily calorie level, a level that does not promote weight gain, as money. When we buy things, we all want to get the best product for our dollars; likewise, we have a limited number of calories that we can use each day, so we want to obtain the highest possible levels of essential nutrients for those limited calories.

And it's certainly true that many superfoods are nutrient-rich foods--dark, leafy vegetables, for example, are high in vitamin A and other essential nutrients, and low in calories. But superfoods also include foods that are high in other compounds that are not essential nutrients but may still offer health benefits--most notably, the compounds collectively known as phytochemicals.

According to current scientific understanding, the potential benefits of eating foods that are high in either nutrients or phytochemicals, or both, include the fact that they may help lower our risk of developing certain chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. In the majority of Western countries, these are the leading causes of death. So, by incorporating the foods in this book into your eating plan, you might well increase your likelihood of living longer.

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