Acai berries, spirulina powder, liquid chlorophyll, hemp protein ... Whilst these products may have a nutritional benefit, many of these ‘superfoods’ are expensive and make some very bold claims, the majority of which do not have the scientific studies to back them up.
Although there is no technical or legal definition of the term ‘superfood’, the common consensus is that these foods are nutrient-dense and are considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Fortunately, this means many everyday foods available at the local supermarket can also be considered to be ‘superfoods’.
Over the coming months I’ll be embarking on a 10 part series featuring real foods with powerful nutritional benefits but which can be easily and readily obtained for a relatively low cost.
First up: eggs
Eggs are one of my favourite foods and contain every vitamin and mineral apart from vitamin C. Serve them alongside any vegetable or piece of fresh fruit (to provide the vitamin C) and you’ve got a complete vitamin pill in food form. Eggs are also one of the very few food sources of vitamin D and are also a significant vegetarian source of vitamin B12 as well as being a good source of protein and iron. Eggs also contain selenium (a trace element and antioxidant playing critical roles in thyroid metabolism and DNA synthesis), lutein (a carotenoid phytochemical important for eye health) and choline (role in neurotransmission and a constituent of cell membranes).
For as little as $0.65 you’ll be getting the following in a serving of 2 boiled eggs (USDA National Nutrient Database 2011 and NHMRC Nutrient Reference Values for adults):
Vitamin D: 2µg (approximately 13% of your daily needs)
Vitamin B12: 1.3µg (approximately 55% of your daily needs)
Iron: 1.7mg (approximately 10-20% of your daily needs)
Selenium: 23.2µg (approximately 40% of your daily needs)
Choline: 250mg (approximately 50% of your daily needs)
And, yes, eggs are a source of cholesterol but the latest research suggests that dietary cholesterol does not largely impact upon blood cholesterol levels (your liver just makes a little less cholesterol when you eat a little more of it) (Jones et al 1996), with the Australian Heart Foundation (2014) currently recommending up to 6 eggs per week as a safe intake for those with high cholesterol.
Enjoy them as part of a healthy balanced diet, ideally poached, boiled, baked or in omelettes and frittatas. Oh, and
another thing, no more egg white omelettes; all the nutrition is found in the yolk!
Stay tuned for a tasty vegetarian frittata recipe I’ll share soon.
Jones et al (1996), ‘Dietary Cholesterol Feeding Suppresses Human Cholesterol Synthesis Measured by Deuterium Incorporation and Urinary Mevalonic Acid Levels’, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 16(1):1222-1228.
The Australian Heart Foundation (2014), Egg, legume, pulses, nuts & seeds, available from: http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition-facts/Pages/egg-legumes-pulses-nuts-seeds.aspx.