Written by: Blanka Junová
Modern dietary supplements capitalize on single-cell organisms with high nutritive value. But how “super” are they?
STRESS, LACK OF exercise, a toxic environment, poor quality comestibles, coffee, alcohol, medications…all of these raise the body’s need for consuming natural prophylactic nutrients. But these are frequently missing in industrially produced foodstuffs. Producers of diet supplements offer a modern solution: so-called “superfoods”.
What’s in the name?
Generally, comestibles and diet supplements marked superfood are distinguished by their high content of readily available nutrients, which means that they are easily digested and may quickly benefit tissues and organs. In addition, they also contain other substances (chlorophyll, flavonols, fiber, certain types of bacteria, etc.) that favorably effect human health. The “superfood” designation is most frequently connected with products based on plants that are rich in chlorophyll. Thanks to its composition, which is very similar to that of hemoglobin in red blood cells, it supports blood production, acts as an anti-inflammatory, cleans and detoxifies the system, supports healthy intestinal flora, and promotes the production of vitamins E, A, and K. Some plants that are rich in chlorophyll are blue-green algae, alfalfa, and wheat or barley sprouts.
Blue-green algae are spirally shaped, monocellular organisms, and they are currently regarded as a supplement with ideal nutritional composition. There are three types: spirulina, chlorela, and wild algae. They all contain about 60% high-quality amino acids, and in addition to chlorophyll, they are also a source of a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids, and enzymes. Furthermore, they are one of the few vegetable sources of vitamin B12, a vitamin that vegetarians frequently lack in their diets. By comparison, the digestibility of vegetable-based proteins is calculated at 85%, while the digestibility of proteins contained in beef is only 20% of total content. Wheat and barley sprouts have similar properties to those of algae, but with lower (approximately 20%) protein content and higher chlorophyll and enzyme content. Alfalfa has a higher content of some vitamins and minerals.
Plants containing high quantities of chlorophyll are hot items in modern diets. Producers offer them in various combinations and forms, from tablets to so-called “green beverages”, and these compete in quantities of other beneficial additives and ingredients (one should remember that natural comestibles offer similar qualities). Ocean algae, fermented soybean paste (or miso, in Japanese cuisine), and grain and legume sprouts contain many of the substances mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Shiitake mushrooms, Kombucha beverage, molasses, and even ordinary garlic and flax seeds have similar effects on health.
Do superfoods really work?
The term “superfood” is often used to attract the attention of potential buyers of diet supplements. It attempts to evoke an image that the product in question will solve their health problems without forcing them to change their eating habits. However, “superfood” is neither a panacea nor a bandage for a poor lifestyle; one should not assume that adding one “green beverage” to a big lunch at McDonald’s will assure good health. On the other hand, the word “superfood” is, to a certain degree, justified. It really is a representation of comestibles with “super” nutrient concentration, and, if properly ingested, “super” effects. Diet supplements and comestibles thus marked can serve as an excellent preventative of many diseases, and a way to reinforce the self-healing abilities of the organism.
|Specific properties of plants rich in chlorophyll, most frequently designated as “superfood”.|
|65% protein, phycocyanine blue stain||55% protein, higher content of nucleic acids and essential fatty acids||60% protein, phyacocyanine blue stain||18.9% protein, higher content of minerals and vitamin K||20% protein, 200 types of enzymes|
|effects||anticarcinogen, detoxicant||detoxicant, stimulant||nervous system stimulant, antidepressant||anticarcinogen, detoxicant.||detoxicant, anti-inflammatory|
|used for||malnutrition and anemia, reconvalescence, diet supplement for seniors||reconvalescence, physical stress, diet supplement for children||depression, nervous disorders, menstrual problems||arthritis, stomach ulcers, mineral deficiency||inflammation, fatigue, intestinal flora imbalance|
|* Only substances that distinguish individual types are stated.|