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What’s in a Name? Nutrient Dense Foods or Superfoods Are Important for a Healthy Diet – Cardinal News



Carrots and broccoli in a pan (PHOTO CREDIT: RitaE / pixabay).

Superfood is a marketing term used to describe foods that claim to contain exceptional nutrient densities. Many experts such as nutritionists and dietitians use the term “superfood” unprofessionally and even technically dispute the justification for classifying a food as a superfood. Still, many people find it difficult to maintain good eating habits, and the marketing appeal associated with the idea of ​​a superfood can motivate people to make wise food choices, while at the same time finding the right foods with a little extra nutritional knowledge.

This is why “superfoods” can help with your diet.

Most people have heard of “superfoods” but are not entirely clear on their true meaning and how they complement good eating habits. If experts aren’t sure what they are, how can we expect everyone else to understand the definition of a superfood? First off, these foods aren’t magical solutions to energy, reducing the risk of chronic disease, or weight loss, but their natural properties make them appealing to people trying to improve their personal health habits and well-being.

In 2007, the marketing of products as “superfoods” was banned in the European Union unless food labeling was accompanied by an expressly authorized health claim backed by credible scientific research. Some experts avoid the term “superfood” and instead refer to the phrase “nutrient density.”

Without getting too technical, it’s pretty easy to understand that white bread, crackers, pretzels, and licorice are not superfoods. It is rather unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts that are more likely to belong to superfoods.

Ready-to-eat sunflower seeds (PHOTO CREDIT: pictavio/pixabay)Ready-to-eat sunflower seeds (PHOTO CREDIT: pictavio / pixabay).

What are superfoods?

Superfoods are defined as foods that contain exceptional amounts of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants – foods with a high nutrient density.

Many different types of food are referred to as “superfoods” in the world of food and health marketing, and many of these foods belong to the same category known as nutrient-dense foods, or PFVs (Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables).

Here they are (in general marketing terms):

Fruits and berries: apples, avocados, acai berries, kiwi, goji berries

Vegetables: Bok choy, kale, squash, tomatoes, seaweed, chard, cauliflower, beets, sweet potatoes

Nuts, Spices, Seeds and Grains: Almonds, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, chia seeds, pistachios, flaxseed, quinoa

Protein: beans, eggs, lentils, salmon, Greek yogurt

Almonds picked to eat (PHOTO CREDIT: Nicholas Demetriades / pixabay)Almonds picked to eat (PHOTO CREDIT: Nicholas Demetriades / pixabay).

At least one food manufacturer claims that processed beef jerky contains enough nutrients to be considered a true superfood, in an article that downplays the risks of nitrates, nitrites, and MSG (as long as they’re present in small amounts). Regarding beef jerky as a superfood, it is the high protein (nutrient) density of beef jerky with low carbohydrate content that speaks in favor of jerky as a superfood. Low carbohydrates, low total calories and high protein promote stable blood sugar levels, which can promote alertness and good energy levels, and promote physiological states that can prevent diabetes or alleviate serious diseases that lead to diabetes. At the bottom of this article is a list of 41 foods that are high in nutrient density, according to a scientific article referenced by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Explained benefits of superfoods

“Superfoods” provide superior nutrients

A sentence like this without details can land claimants in trouble. Vitamin C is vitamin C. The amino acid arginine is arginine. One food does not have a better vitamin C or arginine than the other, but the food may have a greater amount or it may include better delivery of a particular nutrient without interference from other molecules.

So what are the benefits of all these foods? First and foremost, superfoods contain a high proportion of important nutrients. They provide a constant supply of vitamins, minerals and even molecules with antibiotic properties. People with severe nutritional deficiencies can suffer from debilitating diseases or conditions such as anemia and goiter or general weakness, but remembering to get adequate nutrients in the diet can offset these problems.

“Superfoods” protect your immune system

In the midst of a global pandemic full of unknown variants, it is imperative to prepare your body for pathogens. Scientists are constantly looking for nutrients that have a link to resistance to viruses and diseases. Researchers are also always looking for a link between the destruction of cancer cells and a diet containing nutrients that disrupt cancer progression. Additionally, the fiber and phytochemicals found in superfoods reduce the risk of high cholesterol, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and a subpar metabolism.

“Superfoods” fight the effects of aging

Superfoods with antioxidant properties can help slow down cell destruction. Foods with the antioxidants selenium, vitamin E and vitamin C have been shown to reduce the sun’s harmful effects on the skin and prevent further damage. Dietary sources of the mineral selenium include whole grains, seafood, garlic, and eggs. Vitamin E is found in peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and red peppers. Vitamin C is found in vegetables and citrus fruits.

Understanding why superfoods are important to a healthy diet will help you develop good eating habits that promote long life and happiness. Thanks to these useful foods, you can start making healthy lifestyle changes that will benefit your physical and mental well-being.



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In June 2014, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cited a research article published in the scientific journal Preventing Chronic Disease that identified 41 nutrient-dense foods. Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables (PFV), foods most strongly associated with reduced risk of chronic disease, are described as green leafy, yellow/orange, citrus and cruciferous, but this explains the lack of a clear definition of PFV. It is proposed to define PFV on the basis of nutrients and phytochemicals. However, there is a lack of uniform data on food phytochemicals and corresponding intake recommendations. This article describes a classification scheme that categorizes PFV based on 17 nutrients of public health importance according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Institute of Medicine (i.e. potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin) , folic acid, zinc and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K).

Forty-one foods classified by a nutrient density value for dietary consumption that may reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Watercress 100.00
Chinese cabbage 91.99
Chard 89.27
Beet greens 87.08
Spinach 86.43
Chicory 73.36
Lettuce 70.73
Parsley 65.59
Romaine Lettuce 63.48
Cole Green 62.49
Beet greens 62.12
Mustard Green 61.39
Endive 60.44
Chives 54.80
Kale 49.07
Dandelion Green 46.34
Paprika 41.26
Arugula 37.65
Broccoli 34.89
Pumpkin 33.82
Brussels sprouts 32.23
Shallot 27.35
Kohlrabi 25.92
Cauliflower 25.13
Cabbage 24.51
Carrot 22.60
Tomato 20.37
Lemon 18.72
Iceberg lettuce 18.28
Strawberry 17.59
Radish 16.91
Winter squash (all varieties) 13.89
Orange 12.91
Lime 23.12
Grapefruit (pink and red) 11.64
Swedes 11.58
Turnip 11.43
Blackberry 11.39
Leek 10.69
Sweet Potato 10.51
Grapefruit (white) 10.47

See also …

Di Noia, J. Defining powerhouse fruits and vegetables: an approach to nutrient density. Previous Chronic Dis. Jun 5, 2014;11:E95. doi: 10.5888/pcd11.130390.

National Library of Medicine
Di Noia J. Defining powerhouse fruits and vegetables: a nutrient density approach. Previous Chronic Dis. Jun 5, 2014;11:E95. doi: 10.5888/pcd11.130390. PMID: 24901795; PMC ID: PMC4049200.

Carrots in the ground (PHOTO CREDIT: klimkin/pixabay)Carrots in the ground (PHOTO CREDIT: klimkin/pixabay).

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Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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