Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Superfoods! Article 1: The book

Have you seen SuperFoods Rx?

Dr. Steven Pratt and co-author Kathy Matthews teamed up in this book to present fourteen categories of food that have super health benefits. Now mind, you, I've been teaching science for, oh, quite a few years (longer than I care to admit), and I have a pretty critical stance when it comes to health claims. Most diet books that I've seen are worthless (all that talk of "detoxifying," claiming that it's toxins that make you fat, is bogus -- "detoxifying" teas are mostly diuretics, as are the "fat flushing" potions). But SuperFoods Rx impressed me. It has its share of hype -- it's hard to get a health book published and noticed these days without resorting to hype -- but most of the claims are backed by real research that appeared in real research journals, not vague claims of "some studies suggest..." or support from various unscientific testimonials.

All of the foods in the book contain more than the usual vitamins and minerals. Pratt goes into various anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and otherwise health-enhancing substances in common foods, from the isoflavones in soy, to omega-3 oils in fish and leafy greens, to the colorful lutiens, xanthophyls, and anthocyanins in fruits and veggies. The best part is that you don't have to search the back shelves of esoteric health food shops to find these super foods. You can find them all at your grocery store -- or better still, most of them you can grow yourself to get the full benefits of fresh, organically-grown food!

So, as we move into fall harvest time, winter gardening time (for those of us in mild climates), and winter garden planning, I'll be running a series of articles on how to grow foods in most of the groups of superfoods. I'll skip over turkey (low-fat protein, high in three B vitamins, iron, selenium, and zinc, and supportive of the immune system), since I don't know anything about poultry-raising, and likewise I'll skip wild salmon (high in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and selenium, since it's not exactly something you can plant in your raised beds. As for the whole grains group, I'll discuss corn and a few other garden-appropriate grain foods, but leave the growing of oats, wheat, and rice to the farmers.

That still leaves plenty of superfoods you can grow in your garden or your kitchen, so we'll begin at the beginning of the book with the next article: Beans.


Sandra said...

I'm a huge fan of this book and frequently do a "Superfoods ONLY" diet for a week or more, as a sort of tune-up, you can really tell when you've been eating nothing but Superfoods! My favorite Superfood is blueberries.

Reading Dirt said...

Mmm, blueberries! When I was a kid we had blueberry bushes and would freeze quarts and quarts of them every summer. I'd snack on frozen blueberries like some kids snack on candy. I'll have an article later on growing berries.

Carol said...

I've also read this book and as a result started to eat more of these food. I planted 3 blueberry bushes and in a few years hope to be inundated!