Good Food Blog
Miracle - or myth?Posted at 11:30AM, 25 September 2008 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
Purported 'miracle' foods have been very much in the news recently. You can't open a newspaper or magazine without reading about the latest exotic berries and fruits, mysterious algae or strange grains, grasses and roots that claim to improve not just our physical well-being, but also boost our IQ, allow us to live longer and slow down the ageing process. I'm not convinced about these so-called 'miracle' foods and wonder, just how much is marketing hype?
Predictably these super foods are always expensive, yet sales have shot up as supermarkets and health food stores have rushed to meet the demand for this latest food fad. Supposed miracle foods include barley grass, bee pollen, hemp seeds, Himalayan goji berries, Acai berries from the rain forests, suma root from Brazil; Peruvian maca root, spirulina, (freshwater algae) and wheatgrass. The latter is sold in every trendy juice bar and is claimed to be high in detoxifying chlorophyll - but all green leafy vegetables contain chlorophyll.
Why pay ridiculous prices for berries flown in from halfway round the world, when you can get the same benefit from, say, a handful of blueberries grown in your garden?
Are these foodstuffs really better for us than more familiar (and less expensive) fruits and vegetables? I don't believe so. 'Miracle foods' may be nutritious, but so are fresh fruit and vegetables, picked and eaten while garden fresh. Why pay ridiculous prices for berries flown in from halfway round the world, when you can get the same benefit from, say, a handful of blueberries grown in your garden or from a farmers' market?
Perhaps more mundane produce tends to be regarded as less exciting and sophisticated than novel berries from Tibet or the Amazonian rainforests? Yet humble broccoli for instance, contains folate (naturally occuring folic acid) of valuable benefit in preventing heart disease, plus sulphoraphane, (a phytochemical with particular anti-cancer properties) and lutein, an antioxidant that can delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration - a major cause of impaired vision and blindness.
We're advised to eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables to receive the best possible range of vitamins and minerals. Apart from eating them raw, there are lots of great ways to enjoy fruits and vegetables. Stewed, poached or baked fruits make a delicious and inexpensive dessert. Root vegetables can be roasted, baked or included in stews and green vegetables are tasty steamed or simmered for just a few minutes and tossed in a little oil or butter. These are all readily available and affordable, so definitely won't break the bank!