‘Superfood’ – a term used to elevate a mere everyday food in to celebrity stardom (in the fruit and veg world). The rumour on the health-food circuit is that the avocado is being referred to as a brav-acado, kale’s less wilted and more veg-don’t-kale-my-vibe and the humble aubergine is often likened to an Auber-genius.
In the last five years, avocado sales have risen by 194%, kale by 198% and the aubergine has risen by 12% in the last year alone. With the nation becoming more health conscious and sales on unhealthy snacks such as cakes, crisps and biscuits on the decline, we’re now making way for not only the well-known superfoods we all know and love but the rising stars of the fruit and veg world.
Let’s start with the oh-so-cool, totally Instagrammable food of the last year-or-so. The fruit that is the avocado – a single seeded berry in-fact. Avocados are consumed by a whopping 33% of Brits and its social media presence is virtual proof of that. The smashed avocado on toast trend has seen over 530,000 hashtags on Instagram alone, complete with Instagram accounts dedicated to the superfood that’s otherwise known as the ‘alligator pear’.
Health and Nutrition expert, Evita Ochel says that just half of an avocado is packed full of vitamins and minerals with an array of health benefits from disease prevention to regulating blood sugar levels. Avocados have properties that not only boost brain function but are anti-cancerous and decrease the risk of cartilage defects that result in joint diseases like Osteoarthritis. Let’s not forget that they are brimming with vitamins, including vitamin K, C, B5 and B6.
Although an average sized avocado is made up of 75% fat, have no fear as it’s the good kind. Around 70% of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated, a ‘healthy fat’ that will keep you beautiful – the type that keeps your skin full, glowing and young in appearance (and much cheaper than anti-wrinkle injections!)
Avocados are also rich in chlorophylls and carotenoids, pigments that gives an avocado their bright green colour. Carotenoids are reaped with health benefits from aiding in eye health to UV damage protection – but they have to be absorbed. The intake of fat aids this absorption and due to an avocados high fat content, they make for the perfect food.
Avocados have come a long way since the avocado coloured bathroom suite that was totally groovy back in the ‘70’s. The fleshy fruit’s versatility stretches far and wide from ice-creams to puddings, soups, smoothies and the rising superstar that is the ‘eggo-cado’. What is that you ask? Crack an egg in one half of a de-pipped avocado, bake that bad boy in the oven and get back to me.
Kale – a cruciferous veggie that belongs to the cabbage and is way more than just your new friend with benefits. Why? Because just one portion (67g) of kale has a whopping 134% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C – that’s more than a medium sized orange – as well as 133% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.
One portion of the green stuff has around 10% of your daily dietary fibre, contains magnesium – an essential mineral for the digestive system and has cancer prevention benefits thanks to glucosinolate, a chemical that protects against tumour development.
But that’s not all – at just 33kcals it’s virtually fat free but still has a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Together, these fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties which aid in the prevention of the forming of blood clots acids which, ‘reduce the risk of coronary heart diseases’ according to a study by American Heart Association.
Data from analyst Kantar Worldpanel found that kale even has its own demographic. Thanks to the influence of social media, the under 28’s have helped the sales of this leafy green soar to 32million. The uber-cool veggie even has cookbooks dedicated to it – tonnes of them. I like the sound of, ‘I Hate Kale’ by Tucker Shaw. He unashamedly admits that kale will never be bacon but, it can be baked kale crisps — turning something super healthy in to something that sounds much more appetising (in my opinion).
**Disclaimer: avoid eating excessive amounts of kale and leaving the comfort of your own home… Copious amounts of the leafy vegetable can leave you with extreme flatulence, bloating and embarrassing public situations.
The nightshade vegetable with an impressive amount of names; Brinjal, melongene, guinea squash, eggplant but otherwise known as the aubergine for us Brits.
Not only is the aubergine the perfect low GI source (great for weight management) but at just 24kcals per 100g, it’s low in saturated fat and packed full of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, manganese and potassium – all essential vitamins and minerals beneficial for the body.
The deep blue/purple coloured pigment in the skin contains significant quantities of phytochemicals, phenolic and flavonoid. Multiple studies have found that these chemicals aid in the reduction of inflammation and prevent cancer development. They’re also a great brain food – the phytonutrient nasunin prevents the body from suffering damage by protecting cell membranes and fending off free radicals – the ‘baddies’.
Something that the aubergine can exclusively boast is the popular use of the well-known small digital aubergine ‘emoticon’ otherwise known as the ‘emoji’ – but not without its consequences. An ‘emoji’ is used to express an idea or emotion but in more recent times the innocent aubergine ‘emoji’ has had some slightly more humorous but albeit unwanted attention. In 2015 it was widely reported that the social media giant ‘Instagram’ had banned the aubergine ‘emoji’ from its search algorithm after accounts were using the ‘emoji’ to represent a phallic symbol and subsequently leading to images of the human anatomy. Who knew that a mere vegetable could have such terrible consequences?
Admittedly, you won’t be seeing a surge in smashed aubergine on toast hitting social media like the avocado but that doesn’t mean they’re not versatile. As people are becoming more encouraged by high protein, low carb diets, aubergine sheets are replacing the typical pasta sheets that you’ll find in lasagne and aubergine spaghetti is replacing its high-carb friend through the use of a veggie ‘spiralizer’.
Whether it’s guacamole you’re after, low-carb auber-getti or kale crisps, there’s no denying that consuming any of these nutritious foods is beneficial for your health. There’s no official medical definition for a ‘superfood’ but the Oxford dictionary defines it as, “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” So instead of walking past these ‘superfoods’ in the fruit and veg aisle, pick them up because more of us need to advocate the avocado, hale kale and add aubergine to our routine.