Super Foods: Fabulous or Fad?

healthybear.JPG“Me thinks,” if you’re old enough, you’ll remember watching Saturday morning cartoons with Popeye and Olive Oil. “I’m Popeye the Sailor Man, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man, I’m strong to the finich, ’cause I eats me spinach, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.”

Popeye gulped down a can of spinach every time he needed super-human strength, usually when his nemesis, Brutus, gave him grief.

Turns out Popeye had the right idea. Scientists are finding some foods are higher in anti-oxidant activity. And you guessed it, spinach is near the top of the list. The theory is that oxidative damage results in many illnesses. This evidence has spurred skyrocketing sales of antioxidant vitamins.

Agricultural Research Service is the chief scientific agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They say foods scoring high in an antioxidant analysis, called ORAC, may protect cells and their components from oxidative damage.

Pictured: Super-Joshy and his sidekick Super-Teddy

ORAC, short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a test tube analysis measuring the total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances. Early findings suggest that eating plenty of high-ORAC fruits and vegetables, such as spinach and blueberries, may help slow the processes associated with aging in your body and brain.

The studies found that eating plenty of high-ORAC foods raised the antioxidant power of human blood 10 to 25 percent. It prevented some loss of long-term memory and learning ability in middle-aged rats. It maintained the ability of brain cells in middle-aged rats to respond to a chemical stimulus—a function that normally decreases with age and protected rats’ tiny blood vessels against oxygen damage. Certainly, this is interesting and useful knowledge. As with most studies, one aspect of food is isolated. Other factors aren’t taken into consideration.

ORAC (super food) ia certainly a hot topic. Steven Pratt, M.D. says in his book, SuperFoods, there are 14 foods that will change your life. He says he chose them for their high concentrations of nutrients.

Drs. Roizen and Oz go one step further and talk about food synergy. They say there’s food synergy between the nutrients in some foods like oatmeal and OJ that work to provide double the benefits you’d expect from simply adding their nutrients together.

The top scoring ORAC foods were prunes, raisins, berries such as blue berries, strawberries, raspberries, and green veggies: kale, broccoli, and spinach. Alfalfa sprouts were near the top of the list as well.

Fortunately, for children today, there are two new characters, who love to eat whole foods. Try Rannosuarus, a T-Rex, and Betty Baby Bites, his best mouse-buddy. They were created for my book, Baby Bites: Transforming an Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater.

Popeye was helpful with getting kids to eat one veggie, spinach. The character Try Rannosaurus loves all green veggies, after all he’s green. His love of all green veggies is contagious. Betty is the brains behind the dino and she loves whole foods as well. The two team up to engage your children in healthy eating.

After all the studies, papers, and books, we’re back to good ol’ nonna sense. Super foods are whole foods. When you think about it, why is this really news? Do we feel better if a fruit or vegetable comes with a number? Do we think we can eat the foods, which have a high ORAC, and somehow this will make up for all the junky foods we eat?

It makes sense to eat spinach and berries, which come with a high ORAC value. Although, eating all edible parts of varied plant foods is beneficial. Eat whole grains, fruit, and veggies … just like Try and Betty. You’ll be healthier for it!

To learn how to transform your picky toddler, preschooler, or grade schooler into a healthy eater…

There’s more. To hear the Podcast, CLICK HERE.

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