Dietitian Rashiqa Chunawala is a Post Graduation Diploma in Dietetics & Applied Nutrition from Nirmala Niketan College, Mumbai University. She started her career with Mumbai’s 5-star boutique hospital Breach Candy in 1995.
She is backed by a vast 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. She is also a LEC member of the Indian Dietetics Association & Honorary Dietary Advisor for members of NSCI (National Sports Club of India) and HUL (Hindustan Unilever)
Being a multitalented result-driven individual, with sound technical knowledge, functional and communication skills and leadership qualities, she has conducted various health and nutrition talks, workshops and diet consultations. She has also trained numerous dieticians for the national Registered Dietetics (RD) exam.
In an exclusive conversation with Zotezo, she has spoken about superfood and it’s importance. Here is the edited excerpts of her interview.
Team Zotezo: What Are Superfoods?
Dt. Rashiqa: Superfoods have nutrients that differ in quality, density and brands thereby they have an age over other foods. They are foods that are both high in nutrition and high concentration of nutrients and on the other hand, they have higher biological value.
Team Zotezo: What do all superfoods have in common?
Dt. Rashiqa: All superfoods have bioactive components, which are beneficial to us, which are antioxidants, vitamins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, essential amino acids, probiotics, and various enzymes. The antioxidant properties being most effective can give high doses of Vitamin A and E, flavonoids, zinc, selenium, beta carotene, lycopene, coenzyme q10, and polyphenol.
Team Zotezo: What are the health benefits of consuming superfoods?
Dt. Rashiqa: Superfoods are protective in nature. They are packed with natural nourishment. They help to reduce inflammation. They increase the immunity of a person, they are linked with the prevention of various diseases and disorders, and they help to improve metabolism.
Team Zotezo: Is there a certain way we should prepare superfoods?
Dt. Rashiqa: Some foods contain a higher level of nutrients when they are fresh that is in the raw form. While other food nutrients are unlocked when they are cooked. Moreover, there exists a food group that goes either way. Such as blueberries, which means, cooked blueberries contain more minerals than the raw ones. But the raw blueberries contain far more polyphenol than the cooked one.
The second example would be lycopene, which is present in tomatoes is more available to our bodies in the cooked form. Like for example walnuts, walnuts can lose some of their nutrients when they are cooked and roasted. It is best to eat them in the raw form, therefore.
Another very classic example over here is green leafy vegetables such as spinach. Spinach should be thoroughly washed before cooking and should be cooked in an open vessel for an initial 10 minutes during the meal preparation.
Generally, we see that raw vegetables often contain more nutrients, so they are thought to be healthier. But the reality is more complex it is not what you eat, but what you absorb. When foods are cooked they are more available to the body. Hence increasing the rate of absorption of nutrients by the body. The antioxidants present in superfoods are better absorbed and assimilated by the body when the food is cooked.
Mineral absorption also differs, for example, cooked spinach will have 245 mg of Calcium per cup whereas raw spinach which will only give me 30 mg per cup. thus cooking aids chewing increases palatability and digestibility and improve the net energy value of food.
Team Zotezo: Name some superfoods that are good to boost a healthy diet?
Dt. Rashiqa: There are many I can think of, such as turmeric, eggs, the commonly used one, which we use day to day in our life. Broken wheat and wheatgrass, apricots, avocados, moringa or drumstick leaves, flaxseeds, tomatoes, garlic, spinach, broccoli, salmon, goji berries, blueberries, acai berries, and kale.
Team Zotezo: Can we get the benefits of superfoods in daily vitamins or supplements?
Dt. Rashiqa: A supplement may replicate all nutrients the but it will never be enough for the overall nourishment which the body requires and needs. Food offers three main benefits over daily vitamins and supplements, that is greater nutrition, essential fiber, and protective substance. By greater nutrition, we mean that we will get a variety of micronutrients, essential fiber will help prevent certain diseases and also help us manage our constipation. Protective substances, these are the sources of antioxidants which slow down the natural processes of cell scavenging and tissue damage.
Team Zotezo: Are superfoods only a craze and nothing but hype?
Dt. Rashiqa: No, it isn’t. But different food groups need to be present in a balanced form, in our meals regularly. It is true that one shouldn’t just focus on superfoods, especially the exotic ones. Rather the diet should be diverse inclusive of superfoods often, and one must always try to eat the locally available and seasonal fruits and vegetables throughout their entire day.