The term Super Food can be found in everything from supermarket circular ads to articles on diet advice. But what are they really?
It is widely believed that antioxidants like Vitamins A, C and E and phytochemicals like Beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene repair cell damage caused by free radicals. A free radical is an atom or molecule with a single unpaired electron. Essentially, these unpaired electrons disrupt cellular function or cause mutations leading to a variety of diseases including cancer, arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and aging.
There are some foods that are known to contain more antioxidants and phytochemicals than others. Researchers have dubbed these “Super foods”.
For example, 3.5 oz of blueberries contain more antioxidants than 5 servings of some other fruits or vegetables, according to studies done for The US Highbush Blueberry Council. A cup contains 14 mg of Vitamin C, that’s 25% of the USDA recommended daily allowance. They are also packed with fiber and have 0.8mg of Vitamin E. Blueberries are among the fruits with the highest antioxidant activity, says the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (NHRC).
According to another study conducted by the NHRC, laboratory rats that were fed the equivalent of one cup of blueberries a day showed significantly lower rate of age related cognitive loss.
Blueberries are readily available in supermarkets on Long Island at this time of year. You may also consider planting a blueberry bush or two. According to Cornell Cooperative Extension, the longer growing season here on the Island is optimal for growing them. The berries from mature bushes can be harvested in July through mid August.