Superfoods vs a balanced diet: which works better?

If you’ve even so much as looked at a fitness or lifestyle magazine in the last few years, you’re bound to have heard about the magic of superfoods.

Balanced diet food wheel

But how much do they actually help us more than regular food? We spoke to our experts to find out what the deal is with superfoods:

What is a superfood?
A superfood is supposed to have high amounts of nutrients that have an effect on areas such as anti-aging, and even disease prevention.

Some examples of ‘superfoods’ include blueberries, goji berries, quinoa, bee pollen and chia seeds.

How have superfoods gained so much fame?
Superfoods have gained popularity through a high amount of media publicity, and reports backed by food companies.

Independent reports into the effects of superfoods haven’t yet proved conclusive, and an example from the NHS tells us that to benefit from the cholesterol and blood pressure reducing effects from garlic, you’d need to eat around 28 cloves a day! (We think we’ll pass on that one).

In fact, dieticians will often avoid using the term ‘superfood’, as the benefits are so difficult to prove.

Superfoods also tend to be quite pricey, and hard to find in the shops – meaning they’re not really accessible to everyone.

So what’s the answer?
Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to eating yourself healthy. The answer is, as it’s always been, a healthy balanced diet.

Luckily, there are loads of ways to enjoy a balanced diet that are cheap, tasty and convenient.

Personal Trainer at The Rapids, Jenny, said: “Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to eat all of  the ‘superfoods’. A healthy diet incorporating a variety of foods will help you maintain your weight, fight disease and live longer.

“One thing is for sure: every ‘superfood’ is going to be an unprocessed food. You won’t find Mars bars in that category!”

What’s in a balanced meal?
A good, balanced diet includes:

  • carbohydrates for energy
  • protein for muscle repair and growth
  • essential fats for proper bodily function
  • vitamins and minerals for optimum health

Breakfast
healthy breakfast

Some great, healthy choices for breakfasts include:

  • oats, milk, seeds and berries
  • eggs, spinach, wholemeal toast with seeds
  • wholegrain cereal, milk, nuts and raisins
  • yoghurt, seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit or fruit compote
  • fruit juice (not from concentrate), or herbal tea

Lunch

healthy lunch

Convenient, healthy lunches include:

  • jacket potato with low fat cream cheese, prawns or baked beans and a green salad
  • canned tuna in a wholegrain pita, with low fat dressing, green and red peppers, cherry tomatoes and rocket salad
  • wholegrain baguette with sliced turkey, tomato, cucumber and mustard
  • a pasta salad of: wholegrain penne with sun-dried tomato, olives, cucumber, mushrooms and green pepper, drizzled in balsamic vinegar or olive oil or low fat dressing

Dinner

healthy dinner

Some options for tasty, healthy dinners are:

  • grilled tuna or cod with steamed vegetables and rice
  • jacket potato with baked beans
  • grilled or barbequed turkey breast with tomato and onion in a wholemeal bun, served with new potatoes and green salad
  • wholegrain pasta with tomato sauce, roasted pepper, onion, courgette and aubergine

If you’d like any advice on your diet, our gym teams at The Rapids and Andover Leisure Centre will be happy to offer guidance.
And don’t forget to stop off for a fruity smoothie next time you’re in Merlin’s Cafe – a fantastic way to help achieve your balanced diet.

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6 thoughts on “Superfoods vs a balanced diet: which works better?

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  4. Kaitlyn Miller

    Dear Valley Leisure Lifestyle,

    I am a Dietetics student studying at Central Michigan University, and I was hoping I could use the first graphic (the circle of balanced food) in this article for a nutrition program logo I am doing for my community public high school. I would really appreciate it, it’s a beautiful image and perfect for displaying the food groups!

    Sincerely,

    Kaitlyn Miller

    1. Hi Kaitlyn,
      I am sorry to say we cannot provide the rights to this image as we bought it ourselves from a site called Shutterstock, but they should be able to still provide you with this picture if you still want it!
      Kind Regards,
      Valley Leisure

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