The term “superfood” is used frequently these days in the food and health industry. We are promised health and vitality when we eat these superfoods, but what are they and how are they different from anything else that we eat? The term superfood is a marketing term, not a scientific one. A superfood is a nutritionally dense food considered to have particular and desirable health benefits. Intentionally incorporating certain superfoods into our diets for health gain is intriguing, but what is more important is eating a variety of nutritious foods in balanced amounts.
My son recently participated in a program at his school called Taste of Louisiana in which each third grader is assigned a Louisiana food resource to research and present. As I listened to the (quite fascinating) presentations by these kids, I learned that Louisiana is full of powerful natural resources, including several that are considered superfoods. How exciting that we can benefit our health while supporting our state and local farmers by consuming these nutritional powerhouses!
Here are four examples of nutrient-dense foods found right here in Louisiana:
North Louisiana is home to the LSU AgCenter’s Pecan Research and Extension Station, the only university research facility dedicated to the pecan.
Nutrient dense: rich in manganese, copper, zinc, magnesium
Rich in antioxidants: it has been reported that the pecan has the highest amount of antioxidants of all tree nuts
Loaded with healthy fats, such as monounsaturated oleic acid.
Potential benefits: cholesterol lowering, blood pressure control, prostate health, brain health
According to the LSU AgCenter, the sweet potato is Louisiana’s most popular vegetable and the most common variety is the Beauregard.
Nutrient dense: rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Manganese, Copper (any many more)
High in fiber
Rich in antioxidants, such as beta carotene
Potential health benefits: cardiovascular health, blood sugar balance, vision health, weight control, cancer prevention
The Rabbiteye Blueberry is native to the southeast and is the primary species of blueberry grown in Louisiana.
Nutrient dense: rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese
High in fiber
Rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanin (this gives the berry its blue color)
Potential health benefits: cardiovascular health, blood sugar balance, cognitive function, cancer prevention
The honeybee is the official insect of Louisiana.
Rich in antioxidants
Potential benefits: wound healing, cough suppression, sleep aid.
Do not give raw honey to children under 12 months.
Morning Chia Pudding
3⁄4 cup of unsweetened nut or coconut milk
3 Tbsp chia seeds
1⁄8 tsp vanilla
1⁄4 tsp raw honey
Pinch of cinnamon
½ cup blueberries
Mix milk, seeds, vanilla, cinnamon and honey.
Let sit for 30 minutes or overnight, stirring once or twice.
When the seeds have adequately soaked up the liquid and formed a pudding, stir in the blueberries. Top with crushed pecans and enjoy.