The 20th century and the first two decades of the 21st century present a contrasting picture when it comes to health and freedom from disease. The quality and reach of healthcare services improved indeed in many countries of the world. However, the number of deaths due to communicable or chronic diseases has actually increased since 2000.
This has renewed interest in the therapeutic value of food; in the process, it has created a completely new industry of certain food products, called ‘superfoods’. There is no scientific evidence to claims of their extraordinary health benefits: nevertheless, the hype around these products has led to a steep hike in their price.
Here is a small list of superfoods and their inexpensive substitutes.
- Kale: Kale has been known since the times of the ancient Greeks, who used it to maintain good digestive health. Colonists who came from Europe introduced it into the US in the 16th century. It’s a rich source of vitamins such as K, A, C, B6, and E; nutrients such as folates, thiamin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid; minerals such as manganese, iron, calcium and phosphorus.
If you are looking for cheaper alternatives, you can consume spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and Chinese cabbage.
- Avocado: Native Indian tribes in North and Central America consumed avocado, a popular stone fruit – technically a berry. Colonists took it to Europe and popularized it in the US. It is the only fruit with fat content – mostly monounsaturated fats. It is rich in Vitamins K, E, C, B5, and B6; nutrients such as thiamin, riboflavin, folates and niacin; minerals such as Copper, Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Magnesium and Phosphorus.
Cheaper alternatives arebanana, artichoke, squash, broccoli and asparagus.
- Goji Berries: Goji Berries, which look like long and pink raisins, have long been part of traditional Chinese diet and medicine. The berry, touted as a cure for several diseases, is rich in Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, and various minerals such as Potassium, Sodium, and Calcium.
If you are looking for cheaper alternatives, you can take Indian gooseberry that has an identical nutrition profile.
- Seaweed and Spirulina: Seaweed, a form of marine vegetation, is extremely popular in the Far East countries. They are the only non-animal source of Vitamin B12, along with omega-3 fatty acids, various vitamins, minerals, calcium and protein too. Spirulina is a blue-green marine algae that grows in warm waters; it is quite rich in both nutrients and protein compared to seaweed.
You can consume, as cheaper alternatives,walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, horse gram, red lentils, fava beans and peanuts.
Quinoa, a kind of millet, chia seeds, pomegranates and kiwi fruit have also been touted as superfoods, in addition to the ones listed above. There is no harm in consuming any superfood. However, be wary of smart marketing tactics that can blow a hole in your pocket. You should realize that we consume regularlyseveral inexpensive and equally beneficial food substitutes.