Notice how something/someone being 'elevated' for purposes known only to the perpetrators? In recent times, some foods have been elevated to super status by marketers who termed them "super foods".
Some people in some parts of the world eat worms and bugs out of necessity - to appease hunger. But now scientists advocate bugs as a green superfood, arguing that insect dishes, boasting a lower carbon footprint in addition to being very nutritious, could be the answer to the global food crisis.
Every now and again, new items are given this super treatment. Most of them are grown abroad, thus are often less available and more costly locally. The hype surrounding superfoods has become so hot that companies are now selling superfood pills, extracts and elixirs, claiming to offer various health benefits such as anti-ageing, cancer fighting and detoxification, so much so that it gives the impression that once you have eaten such food; you don’t have to worry about other areas of your diet.
Technically, there is no such thing as 'superfoods'.
Blueberries are a top choice of those promoting superfoods, and there is no doubt that they are high in potassium and vitamin C. A 100g serving packs 77mg of potassium, 9.7mg of vitamin C and 6mg of calcium, among others. But at RM16 for a 125g punnet, they are beyond the budget of many.
However, the humble pineapple, which is widely available at supermarkets and local wet markets, is only RM2.50 [nenas madu lagi], and it packs a punch nutrition-wise. A 100g serving offers 97mg of potassium, 15.2mg of vitamin C and 24mg of calcium.
Kiwi fruit, touted as a nutrient-rich food, the New Zealand export has more potassium than bananas or citrus fruits and is an excellent source of vitamin C. A 100g serving boasts 180mg of potassium and 86.7mg of vitamin C, but it also packs a wallop on the wallet at RM7.90 for a packet of four (weighing about 600g).
While the guava at RM4.90 a kg [prices vary] may not boast a high concentration of potassium (29mg per 100g), it is still packed with nutrients. A 100g serving boasts 152mg of vitamin C, 10mg of vitamin A and 33mg of calcium. To my kampong tongue, it tastes a lot better than kiwi too.
Pomegranates are being hailed as a superfood that can protect the heart. A 2004 BBC report states that scientists in Israel have shown that drinking a glass of pomegranate juice daily could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A 100g serving of the fruit has 236mg of potassium, 10.2mg of vitamin C, 10mg of calcium and 4g of fibre [if you ingest the seeds]. At around RM3.30 a fruit [it takes a lot of fruits to yield a glass of juice], it may put a large dent in one’s wallet.
The dragon fruit (RM2.50 each - price vary) may lose out to the pomegranate in terms of calcium (8.8mg) and fibre content (0.9g of fibre and the seeds are a lot easier to ingest) but it is way ahead where potassium (436mg) and vitamin C (14.5mg) are concerned.
Like blueberries, salmon is a favourite superfood, thanks to its rich bounty of omega-3 essential fatty acids. A 100g serving contains 2,950mg of omega-3 and 490mg of potassium. We’re told to eat salmon two to three times a week to lower our heart disease risk and help prevent arthritis and memory loss. We’re also told to eat wild-caught salmon rather than farm-raised ones because of the chemicals that have been found in the latter. However, at RM99 per kg, the fish is beyond the budget of many households.
Ikan kembung (Indian mackerel) is a great source of omega-3, with a 100g serving boasting of 1,450mg of omega-3 and 370mg of potassium. Sure, it’s not as chockfull of omega-3 as salmon but at RM10.90 per kg, it’s more affordable. In addition, the humble ikan kembung also offers more calcium (48mg compared to 12mg in salmon, per 100g serving) and iron (1.8mg vs 0.8mg) and has less fat (3.9g vs 6.34g).
One of the more trendy nutritional wonders, wheatgrass (taken as a juice) is said to have beneficial effects on one’s cholesterol level, blood pressure and immune response, as well as prevent cancer, thanks to its high concentration of chlorophyll. But at RM3.99 for a small cup, it’s pricey.
To enjoy the benefits of chlorophyll, look for green vegetables such as kale or spinach. The latter is a great (and more palatable) substitute for wheatgrass and costs only RM1.20 per 100g. A 30g serving of spinach offers 128 mg of potassium (compared with 42 mg per 30ml of wheatgrass juice), 26 mg vitamin C (10mg) and 30mg calcium (7.2mg).
Oleh itu makan lah makanan tempatan.