Super Foods List
> 7/28/2006 12:56:49 PM

Most Americans do not receive balanced nutrition from the foods they consume every day. Protein/vitamin supplements are not a sufficient substitute for the healing substances present in the fresh fruits and vegetables so glaringly absent from the average diet. The food we eat affects every aspect of our lives, from cardiovascular health to neurological functions and emotional stability.

The most immediate repercussion of unbalanced or excessive consumption is weight gain. The body cannot process carbohydrates and sugars as quickly as many of us consume them, and instead stores them as fat. Related dietary discussions tend to focus too heavily on cosmetic factors, leading many people to believe that their diets are healthy as long as they do not induce noticeable weight gain. The current obesity epidemic has forced wider discussion on this critical topic, but medical professionals, nutritionists and public health advocates should use every available venue to improve nutritional awareness.

Drawing on two independent indexes: David Prior, et al.’s research on antioxidant capacities in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and David Mendosa’s work on glycemic indeces, we’ve compiled a list of relevant statistics for popular items across all food groups, including common snacks and varieties of produce. Such a comprehensive list of the antioxidant capacities and dietary values of various foods has not previously been available in one place, and we hope readers will use it to better choose the foods they consume. Bringing the information contained in this list to the attention of the public is a small but significant step toward improving general eating patterns.

Antioxidants are chemicals that work to prevent the cell damage resulting from oxidation, or loss of oxygen in the body’s cell tissues. Oxidative stress leads directly to cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, two of the most prominent causes of death in the human species. It is also known to facilitate certain cancers.

All living cells contain some of these elements, and a diet including significant quantities of plant-based antioxidants is necessary for the health of most mammals. Though many dietary supplements advertise high quantities of antioxidant material, repeated clinical trials report, in a literal application of the oft-quoted maxim “you are what you eat,” that the most efficient way to consume them is simply to eat the right foods.

The standard measurement of antioxidants in various foods is ORAC, or the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, which lists the amounts of Vitamin E and its variants per gram for two types of edible tissue: water soluble and lipid soluble. The TAC, or Total Antioxidant Capacity, combines these two to measure the overall presence of antioxidants in specific food products.

While present-day diet trends such as those promoted by Atkins may seem like little more than pop science exerting its influence on the marketplace, moderating carbohydrate intake can drastically change one’s overall health, and its effects need to be assessed for the benefit of the public. Glycemic index and glycemic load combine to form a system of measuring the carbohydrates present in certain foods and the way in which said quantities affect the body’s blood sugar levels.

Using pre- and post-meal glucose measurements, the glycemic index gauges how quickly and to what degree certain foods elevate the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. GI numbers are higher for simple carbohydrates, which are most frequently found in heavily processed foods such as white bread. These substances break down and change into sugar very quickly, resulting in a more dramatic increase in overall glucose levels. Complex carbohydrates, present in starches such as potatoes, rices, and multigrain products, generally have lower glycemic indexes. The body digests these materials more slowly, resulting in gradual and ultimately healthier changes in total blood sugar.

Glycemic load is a measurement of carbohydrate content based on GI. Since portion sizes vary between foods and consumers, GL measures the carbohydrate content present in single servings of the foods in question. Operating on the assumption that eating large quantities of low-GI foods would have the same cumulative effects as eating smaller quantities of foods with more carbohydrates, GL is calculated by multiplying GI by the amount of carbohydrates (in grams) which are present in one serving of the food in question, then dividing the result by 100. So, while foods with higher GI will generally yield higher GL as well, the amount of carbohydrates in each serving is ultimately the deciding factor in determining glycemic load.

To summarize, everyone needs to eat more servings of the foods deemed highest in antioxidant content, while making particular efforts to avoid foods that scored highest on GL/GI indexes. Also, readers should attempt to moderate their consumption of foods which fill only one of these requirements, like high-antioxidant potatoes that also contain excessive amounts of carbohydrates. One cannot eat too many assorted fruits and green, leafy vegetables, as they tend to score favorably on all counts. Adding even small servings of these to the daily diet will significantly increase overall health. For ease of browsing, note that, in our opinion, those foods highlighted in green are considered particularly good, while those in red should be avoided.

Please click on the link at the end of this sentence to download your excel list of these foods and their values... Super Foods.


thanks alot i hope to become helthyer
Posted by: Rick 2/28/2007 9:34:33 AM

The technical stuff is a little opaque for me, but it seems well worth the extra time to try to it.I'm curious why some items marked green have similar "numbers" to items marked in red. Are there other considerations besides antioxidant content and GL/GI that determine which are the green items? Thanks.
Posted by: Kathy 9/13/2007 8:05:59 AM

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy