Natural Foods Merchandiser

Superfoods to the Rescue

As baby boomers age, they are increasingly looking to food as a way to maintain good health.

?All of the common health complaints around aging—heart, lung and vascular disease, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction—can be affected by good nutrition,? says nutritionist and gerontologist Jennifer Warner of Sacramento, Calif.

Steven Pratt, a researcher and ophthalmologist specializing in ocular plastic surgery at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., began noticing outward signs of aging and disease in his patients—eyes that lack clarity, for example, or skin that discolors or loses elasticity. In researching these symptoms, Pratt saw clearly some connections between food, specific nutrients and health.

Based on this research, Pratt wrote SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life (William Morrow, 2003). In the book, Pratt describes micronutrients as the nutritional equivalent of cellular-level rust prevention for human bodies. He targets 14 foods as particularly nutrient-dense: beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, soy, spinach, black or green tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts and yogurt.

Baby boomers drive demand for superfoods
In pursuit of maintaining youthful vigor?both internally and externally—baby boomers are discovering superfoods.

?Seniors who shop with us tend to be much more open to getting the necessary vitamins and minerals from pills,? says Sonja Tuitele, spokeswoman for Boulder, Colo.-based Wild Oats Markets. ?But baby boomers are a little more skeptical. They?d rather get the nutritional benefit that comes from healthy and wholesome food—like the superfoods.?

In response, Wild Oats has created a ?Did You Know?? signage program that identifies all of the superfoods and their benefits. At the fish counter, consumers might see a sign saying, ?Did you know that wild salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is a heart-healthy choice??

Placing signs at the point of sale makes it particularly easy for consumers interested in finding high-nutrient foods to identify desired products easily, says Tuitele. ?We give people choices—maybe someone doesn?t like the taste of fish, or they don?t eat it daily, which is really what they should be doing to get the recommended amount of omega-3,? says Tuitele. ?But you can complement eating fresh fish by picking up fish oil capsules ... to get the desired omega-3 dose.?

Marketing moves
David Bennett, co-owner of Mollie Stone?s Markets, a chain of seven upscale grocery stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, says his stores rely on signage, too, to efficiently direct customers to the foods and grocery sections they desire. The staff?s dedication to learning helps, too. ?We depend on the natural suppliers, magazines and natural food shows to help educate us and keep us current on the trends,? says Bennett.

?We depend on the natural suppliers, magazines and natural food shows to help educate us and keep us current on the trends.?
David Hollister, a master broker at Market Connections, a research and analysis firm based in Fairfax, Va., suggests that retailers might Also look to growers? groups for help or inspiration with product marketing. ?I think, for example, the blueberry folks—growers? groups promoting blueberries—have done a great job. Even I, with limited exposure to this stuff, have heard about how great blueberries are for you,? Hollister says.

Wild Oats designs quarterly programs that address customers? food and nutrition desires. In previous quarterly pushes, the store has provided customers with detailed information on a chosen topic, whether the focus is on gluten-free diets, celiac disease or superfoods. Topical specialists are brought into the stores to speak, and events, such as cooking demonstrations, are planned around the quarterly theme.

?We might do an educational program that talks to consumers, not only about the health benefits of superfoods, but about the taste profile, freshness and seasonality,? says Tuitele. ?We want to show how superfoods can be made fun and how to incorporate nutrition-packed foods into an everyday diet plan so you don?t feel as though you have to take a pill.?

Rachel Hauser is a free-lance food writer in Boulder, Colo.

What?s so Super About Superfoods?

Each of the 14 foods Steven Pratt identifies as a superfood is chock-full of micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Here?s a rundown on their benefits.

Beans. Pinto, navy, great Northern, black, lima, garbanzo, lentil—beans in all their incarnations are a low-fat protein, and are high in fiber, plus B vitamins, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium and phytonutrients. They can help lower cholesterol, combat heart disease, stabilize blood sugar, reduce obesity and relieve symptoms of constipation, hypertension and type II diabetes, as well as lower cancer risk.

Blueberries contain a variety of polyphenols, carotenoids and vitamins A and C, as well as riboflavin, niacin and phytoestrogens, among other micronutrients. In addition to their incredible antioxidant properties, which aid in increasing HDL (good) cholesterol, blueberries have been shown to reverse the effects of degenerative diseases associated with brain aging.

Broccoli. A great source of vegetarian iron, as well as vitamins C and K, beta-carotene, fiber, folate and calcium. Pratt writes that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and bok choy are among the best cancer-prevention foods a body can get. Packed with polyphenols, broccoli Also enhances the immune system.

Oats are high in fiber and protein, low in calories and are loaded with minerals, among them zinc, copper, manganese and potassium. A diet high in oats can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol and aid in cancer prevention. Try mixing oatmeal with dried berries for the ultimate ?super? meal.

Oranges. Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling made oranges popular because of his research into the healing qualities of vitamin C, but the fruit is also packed with polyphenols, fiber, folate and potassium. Oranges have been shown to help prevent cancer, stroke, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Pumpkin. It?s not just for Thanksgiving anymore. Pumpkin and its orange-colored brethren—sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers—have a plethora of nutrients capable of fighting off disease. Pratt says that in addition to vitamins C and E, potassium and fiber, pumpkin has an unbeatably rich combination of carotenoids, which can decrease risk from a host of cancers, including those involving the colon, breast and skin. Pumpkin also aids in fighting heart disease.

Soy. A high-protein, vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as phytoestrogens, folate, magnesium and other minerals, soy can play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis.

Spinach. One of Pratt?s top-three superfoods, along with wild salmon and blueberries. Healthy portions of spinach have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and a variety of cancers, including skin, oral, stomach and ovarian, and aid in eye health, preventing macular degeneration and cataracts.

Tea is loaded with polyphenols and yet has no calories. In addition to aiding the immune system, green and black teas have been shown to prevent cancer and osteoporosis, lower risk of cardiovascular disease and, potentially, help lessen impact from the sun?s damaging rays.

Tomatoes. This fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and fiber. The tomato?s antioxidant value aids cancer prevention and reduces the negative effects of sun exposure, and can help prevent macular disease.

Turkey. A low-fat source of protein, turkey?s cancer-inhibiting micronutrients include iron and vitamins B6 and B12, as well as zinc, selenium and niacin. Look to this mineral-rich food to aid the immune and antioxidant systems, and lower heart disease risk.

Walnuts are among the best sources of plant protein and are high in omega-3s, the good fats. They also are the nuts with the highest overall antioxidant activity. Most nuts, from almonds to pistachios, aid in lowering the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other chronic ailments.

Wild Salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids, B and D vitamins, potassium, and protein are all packed into this tasty fish. Adequate intake of the healthy omega-3 fats can reduce risk of stroke, heart disease, many cancers and insulin resistance, and prevent age-related macular degeneration.

Yogurt. Aside from offering live, active cultures, yogurt is a complete protein and offers a heady dose of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and vitamins B2 and B12. Yogurt cultures aid digestion and limit growth of harmful bacteria, which helps strengthen the immune system. Yogurt also helps prevent cancer, allergies and hypertension.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 8/p. 20

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 8/p. 18, 20

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.