Dietician Talks About Superfoods that Will Save Your Life

Kathleen Roberts
Deborah Klein

Superfood that will save your life is always in the news these days. In most cases, they consist of some exotic fruit that no one has ever heard of but everyone should eat lots of. Yet, many everyday foods qualify as "superfoods" and they can work wonders for your health, if you include them in your regular diet.

Learn About Superfood that Will Save Your Life

To learn more about superfood that will save your life, LoveToKnow recently interviewed Deborah Klein, MS, RD. Deborah is the author of The 200 Superfoods That Will Save Your Life. She also has a website dedicated to educating people on becoming healthy, Livitician.com. See what she had to say about common superfoods and your diet.

Interview with Deborah Klein

What Is a Superfood

LoveToKnow (LTK): How does a food qualify as a "superfood?"

Deborah Klein (DK): A food is a SuperFood when it provides you with a significant health benefit when eaten on a regular basis. It gives you the most out of every bite, provides nutrient density with every chew. To get the most nutrient punch possible at every meal and snack it is best to include a variety of SuperFoods into your day.

So bottom line message: aim for having two fruits per day and veggies with lunch and dinner. Vary up the fruits and vegetables you buy. Have a rainbow of colors on your plate. The more color on your plate from organic (preferable) produce, the more nutrients and health benefits you'll get. When you are in the produce section, go for something different than your usual picks. Instead of your typical, make it a goal to try something new; try Swiss chard, kale or a cherimoya.

LTK: How can super foods help people become healthier?

DK: Each SuperFood provides it's own health benefits. The overall health benefits you get from eating SuperFoods are an immune boost, decreased risk for heart disease, hypertension, cancer, or diabetes. Some SuperFoods reduce insulin resistance which helps keep your sugar levels stabilized, helping prevent diabetes. Some SuperFoods can even help with weight loss by providing calcium, vitamin D and dietary fiber.

Superfood Facts

LTK: What foods are most people surprised to discover are super foods? What makes them special?

DK: Salsa and Cocoa are a couple of the surprising SuperFoods.

Salsa: A free, non-starchy vegetable, you can eat as much salsa as you want without worrying about your waistline and get an immune boost with each bite. Salsa is loaded with antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory, disease prevention and cholesterol-lowering benefits. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, lycopene, quercetin, and capsaicin. Add salsa to your egg whites with some sprouted grain toast or wrapped with a whole grain tortilla, for a tasty SuperFood "wake me up" breakfast.

Cocoa Beans: Cocoa beans are high in catechins, (antioxidants) that are great for heart health. They are good for reducing insulin resistance which helps keep your sugar levels stabilized and for helping prevent diabetes. Keep the cocoa healthy by not topping it off with a bunch of fat, by replacing the chocolate bars with a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips (a Tbsp of chips = 27 chips is only 4 grams of fat, instead of 13 grams of fat in a small, 1.5 oz. chocolate bar.

For maximum immune boosting antioxidants and a "free food" sweet tooth satisfier, choose unsweetened organic cocoa powder (non-alkaline), which is available at health food stores. Mix one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder with a teaspoon of agave nectar in a mug of hot water, with a dash of cinnamon for a delicious comfort drink!

LTK: What are some of the biggest food myths you have seen regarding super foods?

DK: The overall two biggest myths regarding SuperFoods is that more is better and that one food is a cure-all magic food. Eating one antioxidant-rich SuperFood is a start and does help, but you also want to keep in mind not to overdo it with one food.

I had a patient who actually ate so many blueberries that it raised his oxalates too high, and he got kidney stones. Too much of a good SuperFood can take away the health benefits it provides! The key is to enjoy a variety of foods and have each food in moderation.

Eating Right

LTK: What are the worst foods people can eat?

DK: I don't like to qualify food as good or bad, because that is associating food with an emotion. I like to help people have a positive association with food and promote a healthy relationship with food by emphasizing, if you are craving a certain food then it's ok to have it, even if it's not an optimally healthy food.

All in moderation, we can fit in the foods we enjoy while keeping a healthy balance including the more optimal foods. Also, each individual is different and has different needs. Some foods that are not as optimal are essential for some people with various deficiencies and conditions.

With that said, the food that is generally not optimal would be red meat since it's highly inflammatory and high in saturated fat, but for a person with anemia, it's a great food to have (their palm size portion, a couple times a week). Artificial, processed and fried foods are also definitely not beneficial for our health. Foods with hormones, antibiotics and lots of pesticide residue are not so great for us either. It's best to go organic whenever possible.

LTK: Is it hard to incorporate your superfoods into an everyday diet?

DK: SuperFoods can definitely be easily incorporated into your day. The best motto to follow to get SuperFoods in is to think about nutrient density; what I call Efficiency Eating (coined by Deborah Klein, MS, RD). Say to yourself, "I want to get the most benefits per chew" = nutrient efficiency.

Instead of snacking on some potato chips, take a handful of Goji berries (high in fiber, taste and antioxidants). Think of color on the plate rather than having a brown plate. You'll get more SuperFoods in your meal by filling up the plate with more veggies rather than meat.

No matter what restaurant you are at, you can get SuperFoods. At a Mexican restaurant include some black beans (highest antioxidant bean) and some salsa. At an Italian restaurant, have some marinara sauce instead of Alfredo, and Primavera style pasta to get more veggies in.

More About Superfoods

LTK: What else should people understand about super foods and their health?

DK: Overall, SuperFoods are not magical foods; they are nutrient dense foods that give you more power per bite. Include a variety of them to cover all your bases, to get an overall disease prevention boost.

LTK: Anything else you'd like to share?

DK: Out of all the 200 SuperFoods in my book the top two SuperFood hits are beans and artichokes. According to me, The LIVITICIAN™, beans are the healthiest food on earth! They provide a high fiber fuel, protein and antioxidants. Black beans rank number one out of all the beans for antioxidants. Also, they are a perfect weight loss and balanced food, excellent source of fiber, fuel and protein for sustainability and increased satisfaction. Consuming approximately ½ cup of dry beans results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron, and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat! Black turtle beans contain as much antioxidants as cranberries and grapes and 10 times the amount found in oranges. The high fiber content in black beans helps regulate blood sugar levels and as such, is very beneficial for sufferers of diabetes or hypoglycemia.

Artichokes are also a top hit, since they are a perfect snack. One medium boiled artichoke provides:

  • Carbohydrates: 33 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Fat: 0.5 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 16
  • And the perfect amount of calories (~150) to get the thermic effect of food (increased calorie expenditure) benefit to help increase metabolism.

For a great unique snack, have a steamed artichoke with your favorite flavoring (mayo, hummus, or Italian Dressing) as the fat source. It's an excellent source of calcium, folic acid and potassium too!

Special Thanks

LoveToKnow would like to thank Deborah Klein for taking the time for this interview.

Dietician Talks About Superfoods that Will Save Your Life