Superfood Series: Kale Krazy!

The term ‘superfood’ has become a common concept in our everyday conversations. What makes a super food so super, and do we have to eat these magical foods to stay healthy? Can we eat a variety of ‘normal’ foods and get similar health benefits? Let s take a closer look to see what superfoods are all about.  All types of food provide our bodies with a variety of nutrients. We classify the nutrients in two groups namely macro and micro nutrients.

Macronutrients are nutrients that contribute to the energy value or content of the food and appear in large quantities in foods. There are 3 macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Micronutrients do not contribute to the energy content of the food and appear in small quantities in foods and are known as vitamins and minerals.

Sufficient quantities of macro and micro nutrients are vital for good health. Superfoods become super when the food contains  an abundance of micro nutrients in large quantities that are deemed good for our health. Let’s compare the popular health claims made for some superfoods and then check how each of these superfoods compares to a ‘normal’ counterpart in relation to their macro and micro nutrient composition.

Kale:

Health claim

  • One of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet (especially high in Vitamins K, C and beta carotene)
  • Good source of calcium, magnesium and potassium

 Kale vs Spinach (per 100g raw) 

Nutrient: Kale: Spinach:
Energy 49kCal 23kCal
Protein 4.28g 2.86g
Fat 0.93g 0.39g
Carbohydrates 8.75g 3.63g
Fibre 3.6g 2.2g
Calcium 150mg 99mg
Phosphorus 92mg 49mg
Magnesium 47mg 79mg
Vitamin C 120mg 28.1mg
Vitamin K 704.8mcg 482.9mcg
Beta Carotene 5927mcg 5626mcg
Cost 4 R12.77 R12.50

 

Conclusion: So out of all the superfoods in the showdown, it seems like kale lives up to its hype when compared to spinach! It is a great addition to your diet, but unfortunately is not always readily available. Try kale is salads, soups or dried in ‘chip’ form!

It is thus evident by the above comparisons that in order to get the proposed health benefits from food, you can, but do not have to choose foods with the esteemed superfoods title! Good old oats, sardines and spinach are also super foods, just without the hype. For future reference it is recommended to check with your dietitian www.adsa.org.za if a super food is a “real” super food.