We have been so excited to have Julieanna Hever, aka the Plant-Based Dietitian, chat with us here on the Vegan Mainstream blog throughout Vegan MOFO about the different foods we have been focusing on. If you have missed any of the previous interviews, check them out with the following links: beans, greens, and grains!
Today, (as all week on the Vegan Mainstream blog), we are focusing on SUPERFOODS. Read on as Julieanna cuts through the marketing haze and gives us the lowdown on real superfoods. Let’s get started:
Vegan Mainstream: Do you think there is a gimmick aspect to superfoods, or are they something we should really pay attention to?
Julieanna Hever: The concept of “super” foods has definitely morphed into a brilliant marketing phenomenon. Simply stated, superfoods can be defined as foods that provide large amounts of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals) for few calories…or ones that provide the most nutritional bang for your buck. If you eat a diet that is founded on nature’s bounty (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds) and minimize or eliminate processed and toxic foods (animal products, refined sugars and flours, etc.), you will reap extraordinary health benefits. I have not yet seen research suggesting a person will fare better on a healthy vegan diet with the inclusion of specialty foods-like acai and goji berries-than this same diet without these additions. My concern is that many of the products labeled “superfoods” are expensive and not easily accessible. I don’t want people to feel they need to seek specific foods to attain optimal health, or to believe that using these foods on top of a processed, junk food diet will provide benefit. Essentially, people need to look at their diet in a wholistic sense instead of seeking out magic cures.
VM: What are the superfoods that are most beneficial to include in your diet, and why?
JH: Real superfoods are represented in the rainbow of colors found in vegetables and fruits, as well as in beans, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, and tea. These are the foods that have consistently ranked high on antioxidant scoring systems and have shown promise in disease-fighting research. Diets rich in these foods can also provide adequate vitamins, minerals, macronutrients when consumed with balance, variety, and moderation. Be sure to include the following superfoods in your diet on a regular basis for optimal health:
- Leafy green vegetables for blood-oxygenating chlorophyll; carotenoids like lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthan which boost and protect your eyesight; calcium for your bones; iron for your blood; magnesium and potassium as important electrolytes; and the essential vitamins K, C and folic acid
- Red/orange/yellow fruits and vegetables like mango, bell peppers, and tomatoes for their carotenoid power which give your skin a rosy glow and fight off cancer; and vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and immune strengthener
- Blue/purple fruits like berries for anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acids, hydroxybenzoic acids, and flavanols that are anti-inflammatories and may improve cognitive function
- Tea because it has powerful flavonoids like catechins (especially ECGC) that help protect against infections, cancers, oxidation, heart disease, and more
VM: What are some easy ways to incorporate YOUR favorite superfood into a diet?
JH: My favorite superfoods are leafy green vegetables and I enjoy them in a green smoothie, a green juice, huge salads, and soups. In fact, leafy greens are so versatile that I throw them into everything! I shred them into casseroles and pasta dishes; use them as a bed for whatever dish I made for dinner; and use them as wrappers for spreads and fillings like hummus and guacamole. Here is an article I posted about the magic of greens along with two of my favorite green smoothie recipes: http://plantbaseddietitian.com/the-greatness-of-greens/.
VM: And with that advice, we wrap up Vegan MOFO on the Vegan Mainstream blog this year. Be sure to check out the rest of the MOFO posts we have been putting up throughout October – there are recipes, infographics, nutritional information and more. You can find them all under the FOOD tab on our blog.
Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T., also known as The Plant-Based Dietitian, is a passionate advocate of the miracles associated with following a whole food, plant-based diet-the established effects of which provide positive healthful benefits. Julieanna is the host of the brand new talk show series What Would Julieanna Do? on Veria Living Network, author of the best-selling book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, and the nutrition columnist for VegNews Magazine. She is the co-author of the d book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking, which she wrote with Chef Beverly Lynn Bennett. Julieanna counsels a variety of clients throughout the world from her Los Angeles, California-based private practice including elite athletes, adults, and children with various nutritional and/or medical concerns. Julieanna was recently featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Reluctantly Healthy, and E! News, co-stars on The Chef and The Dietitian, on numerous radio shows, and has lectured extensively throughout the United States. She is published in prominent journals, magazines, blogs, and newsletters. As co-producer and star of the “infotainment” documentary To Your Health, Julieanna interviewed a host of the plant-based world’s most respected doctors and researchers to bring this important information to film and television audiences. Julieanna is also a Special Consultant for the best-selling documentary, Forks Over Knives. Her work as the Executive Director of EarthSave, International, has also provided an opportunity for Julieanna to bring whole food, plant-based nutrition to the forefront of efforts to improve the current global health crisis.
Julieanna received her Bachelors degree from UCLA and Masters of Science in Nutrition at California State University, Northridge, where she also completed her Dietetic Internship. She has taught as part of Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition Certification Program, worked as a clinical dietitian at Century City Doctors Hospital, and has consulted for numerous businesses.
To learn more, visit Julieanna at her website: www.PlantBasedDietitian.com