I, for one, love the idea that there are superfoods–certain edibles that go the extra mile in terms of nutritional chutzpah. They may not leap tall buildings, but superfoods are purported to fight the evil villains of heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer and a host of other diseases. Blueberries, for example, have become a superfood darling for their powerful punch of antoxidants–and I have to say, they do seem pretty mighty to me.
That said, I think some of the trendy superfoods are stealing the spotlight from the true heart of the matter–from the everyday heroes. It seems to me that almost any grain or produce that is grown organically, unprocessed and prepared gently, has much to offer. Aside from just a listing of antioxidant values, I can’t see a list of ten superfoods that earn obvious rank. In fact, if you look at 10 “Top 10 Superfoods” lists, you will see that they vary widely.
The truth is, most good food from nature is pretty super. So with that in mind, I like taking a seasonal approach. Rather than debating the merits of acai berries over goji berries, I prefer to look at what’s in season, and work with the nutritional workhorses that I can get here and now. These are my favorites for fall, based primarily on nutritional variety and strength, but that also give me that primal, sensuous satisfaction that comes with eating what’s in season:
Sweet Potatoes and Pumpkin
I am head over heels for these flavors come fall, and no wonder: The dark orange vegetable family outdoes all others in vitamin A content. Sweet potatoes are also packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. Other dark orange vegetable standouts include pumpkin, carrots, and butternut squash. For more, see 11 Ways to Use a Pumpkin.
Crucifers such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards and turnips contain indole alkaloids that may help prevent cancer. They are also high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Along with their fabulous flavor, once you get the hang of cooking them, they may have an added bonus: they may help bolster memory as you age. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who eat the most of these foods are the least likely to be forgetful.