Which ‘superfood’ really makes you healthy?

With Christmas over and New Year resolutions looming, most people are looking to popular superfood ingredients to improve their appearance and overall health – but which so-called super-food will really make a difference to your wellbeing?

Some of the most popular ingredients include turmeric, green tea and cocoa – so Wellbeing News asked London-based nutritionist Georgios Tzenichristos whether there was any truth behind the super-food rumours.

Georgios explains that each of these super-foods has a key active molecule, responsible for the vast majority of their health benefits. Turmeric has curcumin, green tea has a molecule called EGCG while cocoa contains flavanols, all at different concentrations in relation to each other.

All three superfood actives have quite similar yet diverse health benefits, with curcumin more known as an anti-inflammatory, EGCG well known as an all round antioxidant and cocoa flavanols renowned for their cardiovascular health benefits.

Whilst evidence to date has seen scientists disputing which ingredient is best, Georgios has studied the benefits and nutrient content of each of these popular superfoods and has concluded that one super-ingredient is definitely more “super” than the rest.

“It’s a no brainer”, says Georgios. “If I had to choose one of those famous actives, that would be the humble green tea!”

Georgios says the difference is down to quantity of active ingredients.  Looking at the concentration of each active, it is quite easy to pick a winner: green tea contains 14x more polyphenols than cocoa and 3.5x more curcumin. Green tea takes five minutes to prepare, is super cheap and is widely available. On the other hand, curcumin needs to be added to another drink, such as a protein shake or a latte, and will stain your teeth and everything it gets in contact with. And cocoa also needs a protein shake or milk and sugar – not the healthiest drink you can have.

Green tea is, it seems, a winner in the nutrtitional stake.  Georgios explains:

“A cup of green tea is easy to prepare, costs next to nothing and provides you with a whooping 7% active molecules (EGCG), the most of any other drink or food. This is in contrast to to turmeric, which is a hassle to prepare and only contains 2% active (curcumin). Plain cocoa fares even worse, as it usually needs milk and sugar to be palatable and only contains 0.5% actives (flavanols).  

“To recover from the holidays and fill your body with antioxidants, green tea is the simplest and most effective choice.” says Georgios.

 

About our nutritional expert

Georgios’ London-based aesthetic practice specialises in natural anti-ageing. For more information visit lipotherapeia.com.