Health & Wellness

Superfood Facts

Are so-called superfoods worthy of their title?
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The term “superfoods” first emerged in the early 20th century as part of an advertising campaign to sell bananas. Superfoods meant super sales, so the term caught on. 

In spite of being a marketing and not a scientific phrase, there is some truth to the term. However, what may be considered a superfood in one part of the world may not be so super by the time it’s been transported all the way to Bermuda. 

Katherine Dale is a doctor of naturopathic medicine (ND) at Northshore Medical & Aesthetics Centre. She explained what makes certain foods super, how and why you should eat them, and what the best locally available superfoods are. 

Put succinctly, superfoods are “nutrient dense” and “tend to have more concentrated benefits than another food in the same category”. The categories she likes to use are oil, antioxidant, super green, gut health and immune. 


Omega fatty acids, which are found in certain oils, are a superfood because, said Dr Dale, they help to “clear out” inflammation. 

“From wellness to illness is a spectrum of how much inflammation there is in your body. That can be related to food you’re eating but also lifestyle factors, such as how much stress you’re under. But, you make yourself more vulnerable to familial or hereditary, genetic tendencies if you don’t balance that out. Omegas are a way of doing that.” 

Her recommended omega sources are hemp and flax seed oils, but chia and sesame are also good. She prefers the oil over the seed because you get more of the omega if you press it. And, while they are not cheap to buy, you only need a very small amount: “Drizzle a teaspoon over your meal in the morning,” she said. 

She also recommended sesame seeds for their additional benefit as a good source of calcium. A quarter cup of sesame seeds has the same amount of calcium as a whole cup of milk. 

Healthy oils play another important role in our diet. They help our bodies absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D and K. She therefore recommended adding a small amount of oil to steamed vegetables, or a nut butter if you’re making a smoothie. 

“The oils help you absorb, so having a green smoothie without any oil in it at all is going to be hard for your body to break down,” she explained. 

When choosing a nut butter mix it up because different nuts contain different omegas, and check the ingredients on the jar. Avoid any brands that add sugar or salt; a serving size is only one tablespoon. 

Additionally, good local sources of omegas are wahoo, mackerel and avocado. 


Antioxidants in foods will help remove toxins from our systems and one of the best sources is green tea. Berries are another good source, but if the fresh offerings aren’t looking too fresh, buy them frozen. 

If you want a locally grown superfood fruit, look no further than the humble loquat, which is high in vitamin A and the antioxidant, beta carotene. 

Red wine is often touted as being an antioxidant, but unfortunately that isn’t accurate. “You don’t need to drink the wine, you just need the skin of the grapes,” she laughed. “If you drink the wine, you’re adding more oxidation than you’re taking away.” 

Super greens 

Dr Dale’s favourite super greens are chlorophyll and spirulina. Chlorophyll, which she has in powder form, is naturally present in green vegetables and is the reason for their colour. The greener the vegetable, the higher the chlorophyll content. 

Spirulina, which is an algae, contains chlorophyll. As well as being an antioxidant it is anti-inflammatory, has a protein that can reduce the body’s absorption of cholesterol and is rich in immune-boosting vitamins such as E, C and B6. 

A popular super green that is abundantly available in Bermuda is kale. Kale contains vitamins A, B6, C and K as well as folate, fibre, manganese and carotenoids. 

She warned however, that to get the most from your kale, you need to either cook it, massage it with oil or, for a smoothie, blend it in a high-quality blender with an oil such as hemp or flax seed. This will help your body absorb all its nutrients. Eating kale raw, she added, can be “a bit hard on the system”. 

Gut health 

Fermented foods are excellent for our guts and the best way to get your daily dose of a gut-healthy superfood is to add kefir to your diet. This is a fermented yoghurt drink and, like other superfoods, you only need a small amount to make a big difference. 

“You’re just having a shot of the kefir,” she advised. “It has a lot of fermented bacteria and a lot of fermented dairy that’s healthy bacteria that’s good for your gut.” Kefir, she added, is also very good for kidney health. 


The list of superfoods that are good for our immune systems is a long one and includes many that have already been mentioned, but one that stands out for Dr Dale is mushrooms. 

“Most mushrooms contain beta-glucan, so they’re really good for our immune system and your nervous system. They’re very nutritive to nerves of the body,” she explained. They are also high in vitamin D, which is important for the immune system. “Mushrooms have been used in medicine for ages,” she added. 

While mushrooms do grow wild in Bermuda, they are also readily available in most supermarkets. Dr Dale has even spotted mushroom jerky at Supermart. 

Also good for the immune system are small doses of Bermuda honey or sea moss. 

Dr Dale loves that the term superfoods opens people up to ideas and options but, she warns: “The caveat for superfoods is that not all foods are good for all bodies. That’s why they’re not always ‘super’. And, you need to be eating them in moderation. You can’t live on superfoods alone.” 

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