Although acai, quinoa, chia, or the legendary avocado berries are viewed as all-powerful foods, they do not work miracles by themselves.
During the last years, where the already known as Western Diet has dominated in an unstoppable way the countries of the first world or, worth the redundancy, Western countries, there have also been those who have seen the opportunity and taken the opportunity to advertise certain foods as something beyond of the earthly. They are known as "superfoods", those with nutritional properties that almost seem from another planet. Or at least, that's how they are usually advertised by those who earn the most money with them.
Taking into account that we live in a society where it is much easier to eat poorly than to eat well, where it is cheaper to buy fast food than to prepare a tasty and healthy dish composed of vegetables, whole grains, quality proteins and healthy fats, the truth is that there are many sides to attack unsuspecting buyers with "superfoods" that are intended to replace others much easier to acquire: whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, olive oil, lean meats, fish ... Today we will talk about a few of These "superfoods", and how it is easier to get their almighty nutritional properties through other more affordable alternatives, both economically and due to geographical proximity. But beware, taking down their misleading advertising does not mean that they are not nutritionally very interesting (quite the opposite), but that they have probably been given excessive publicity.
The most popular alleged superfoods under review
Here is a review of some of the foods that have been presented the most times as superfoods in recent times.
The acai berries are a fruit whose nutritional property Most notable is set antioxidants (anthocyanins, polyphenols), and contain vitamins A, C, E, group B and other interesting nutrients such as fiber, fatty acids omega-3, omega -6 and omega-9 and phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. We cannot deny that it is a very interesting food nutritionally, since it can provide benefits at the digestive level (thanks to its antioxidants and fiber), at the cardiovascular level (due to its anti-inflammatory properties), and at the metabolic level.
However, like everything in life, nothing is magical. Acai berries are a fairly complete type of fruit, but by itself it is not capable of improving the body if the rest of the diet leaves much to be desired. In addition, they are still relatively difficult to find, and therefore their price shoots up. Regarding its vitamins, kiwi for example has three times as much vitamin C as acai berries; Although it is true that its fiber content is remarkable (almost 9 grams per 100 g of Acai berries), other foods such as nuts (walnuts or hazelnuts) have a similar amount. As we mentioned at the beginning, it is a very interesting food, but not miraculous.
Chia seeds are another of the complete foods of the moment, also striking for its exotic origin (Mexico and Guatemala, a bit far from Spain). At the time it stood out among the ancient Aztecs for its nutritional complexity, and in fact, as with Acai berries, it stands out in many ways: antioxidants (flavonoids), B vitamins, calcium, iron, fiber (almost 30 g of fiber for each 100 g of seeds), proteins (23% protein in its composition) and fats such as omega-3s.
It seems like another almighty food, and in fact few substances can overshadow it, but again its properties have been exaggerated. Yes, it is true that it is rich in fiber and vegetable proteins, but the satiating capacity of these nutrients that theoretically should give chia seeds sufficient potential to improve the metabolic profile of individuals, and help them lose weight, have not scientifically proven. The slimming power of which these seeds tend to boast is debatable, although it does seem that they can contribute to weight loss if a proper diet is carried out (but not by themselves). Also, although it is not common to consume 100 g of seeds at once, if we go overboard with their consumption it is possible to suffer intestinal discomfort due to its high and concentrated amount of fiber. And, finally, it should be remembered that these seeds have a high caloric density (almost 500 kcal per 100 g), so not all are advantages, and they should not be abused.
Quinoa, a food known as pseudocereal because of its great resemblance to these, is actually a seed whose origin is also found in South America, specifically in the Andes mountain range. In fact, in this area of the planet, quinoa is a food very well integrated into the typical diet of its inhabitants.
As with chia seeds, quinoa stands out for its high content of antioxidants (flavonoids), fiber (15 g per 100 g), vegetable proteins (16 g per 100 g) and omega-3 and omega-6 fats. In addition, it also contains micronutrients such as vitamins B and E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc, reaching almost half or more of the daily needs of these nutrients by consuming only 100 g of this product. Or almost 100% in the case of iron.
Quinoa has shown to have multiple benefits at the cardiometabolic level, but it also has some other drawbacks, and its price, although it has been decreasing over the years, is still a bit excessive. As with legumes, quinoa also contains lectins or "antinutrients," as well as saporins (which have been linked to some anticancer potential, but have also been shown to cause gastrointestinal problems in some individuals). For its part, although its high content of vegetable proteins stands out, nuts. They have a similar amount (for every 100 g of nuts or hazelnuts there are between 12 g and 14 g of protein), and even legumes have more (between 20 g and 24 g of protein in chickpeas, beans, peas and lentils).
Avocado is one of the most interesting fruits of the moment, also from Mexico and Central America. Although for years doctors have advised against its consumption, along with coconut, due to its high fat content, little by little this recommendation is falling on deaf ears. Today we know that fat is not the problem, but the bad lifestyle in general.
Avocado stands out for its high content of healthy fats, such as oleic acid, omega-3 fats, fiber (2.5 g per 100 g), potassium, magnesium and vitamins B and E, as well as antioxidants of course. Therefore, avocado has shown potential benefits to reduce satiety, improve muscle function and even help improve blood cholesterol (and not the other way around as previously believed).
However, as with any food, avocado also has its drawbacks. Currently in our country, although it is already cultivated, it continues to have a high price; Its caloric density must also be taken into account (around 200 kcal for each standard piece), and its protein content is rather low. Yes, it is a very interesting food at a nutritional level, and in fact taking an avocado a day is highly recommended in terms of cholesterol and weight loss (its satiating power leaves no doubt in the studies), but it should not be abused of its consumption, nor should we make the mistake that eating avocado alone will help us. It should be consumed together with a healthy diet in general, because it is not a miracle product.
Finally, we have the well-known soy, a multifunctional food especially in vegan individuals. From the soy drink to the now popular textured soybeans, this is a legume with great nutritional value.
Soy stands out, as with some of the previous foods, for its high content of antioxidants, vegetable proteins (35 g per 100 g, and up to 50 g if it is textured soy), fiber (22 g per 100 g), fats healthy and micronutrients such as vitamins of group B, vitamins A and E. Likewise, it also stands out for its potassium, calcium and phosphorus content. Therefore, soy stands out along with avocado and other foods rich in healthy fats for its potential to improve cardiovascular risk and its satiating potential.
However, soy has its drawbacks. In excess or abuse, the estrogens in soy have been shown to improve the health of women (even improving the symptoms of menopause), but in men it can have a negative effect; It can even cause hormonal alterations in women if there is an excess. While the safety of soy as such seems clear, supplements derived from it are less clear.
Therefore, we can lead to the conclusion that both soybeans and the rest of the foods discussed today are very interesting at a nutritional level, nobody doubts that. However, they are not miraculous on their own, nor in the company of others. They can improve the nutritional profile of a good basic diet, but nothing more.
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