By Ammi Midstokke
Reader Health Columnist
For a while now, thanks to Dr. Oz and other preachers of panaceas, we’ve been hearing about these incredible wonders of the nutritional world: Superfoods. But what exactly is a superfood?
Since science has neglected to take part in the discussion (because there is no science to back up this marketing jargon), we’ll be left to break it down linguistically:
By this definition, superfoods merely need to taste good (a wholly subjective assessment) to qualify as a superfood. Which is why I am adding eggnog to the list of superfoods.
The claim of a superfood is typically inspired by a particular food’s high density in a nutrient or vitamin that correlates to a positive result in a random study by a bunch of guys in lab coats. We know that correlation does not mean causation.
Yes, there are studies that show people who eat a ton of broccoli have lower incident of colon cancer. Does that make broccoli a superfood? It does if you’re buying an overpriced broccoli-kiwi superfood smoothie.
If we assess the actual science behind that statement, we’ll note that broccoli is high in fiber, which aids in regular bowel function, which aids in avoiding inflammation, and inflammation correlates (and is indicated as a cause in some cases) to colon cancer.
But broccoli-chomping people also belong by default in a lower-risk demographic: People who actually eat vegetables. I found no studies singling out Brussels sprouts or people who eat papyrus as a nervous tendency (also a high-fiber substance).
Most superfoods we see marketed have been given this prestigious sham title for particular qualities, such as “anti-oxidant” powers. In fact, wine gets that trophy all the time, but lemons and blueberries offer just as many, have additional fiber, and don’t shrink your brain or cause a hangover.
Anti-oxidants are molecules that inhibit the oxidization of other molecules. Oxidization leads to something we know as “free-radicals.” Much like their name indicates, these guys cause a sort of internal chemical revolt that leads to cellular damage. Damaged cells that start to reproduce equal cancers.
But oxidization is also a natural cycle within our body, only high levels of it, or excessively low levels, can led to trouble. We increase our level of oxidative stress by: fighting with our spouses, eating too much sugar, being exposed to toxins — yes, the ones even in your shampoo — and over-training. Or even just training.
Those of us who meet any or all of those criteria may want to increase our consumption of foods higher in anti-oxidants, or superfoods, or what we’ve basically always known by their more traditional name:
Fruits and Vegetables
And eggnog. How does eggnog qualify? Oh ye,s folks, I even have science to back this claim up. First, it’s very good, or pleasant; excellent. Second, if it is made with real eggs, especially the farm-fresh, happy-chicken kind, it is loaded with Vitamin D. This fat-soluble vitamin will not only help you avoid rickets, but also aids in balancing the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body – essential for maintaining bone health. Studies also show it supports immune health, can reduce symptoms of depression and is a key factor in weight optimization. Eggnog doesn’t help with the latter, of course.
Now that we’ve established its validity as a superfood, let’s learn how to make one from scratch so you can avoid those packaged, processed, sugar-laden varieties and serve your holiday guests with a cup of health instead.
Ammi’s Fall Down Real Soon Now Eggnog
Courtesy of Jimmy Akers, who shared his recipe with me decades ago. I have since adapted it to my dairy-free ways.
•12 egg yolks
(set the whites aside)
•1 liter coconut milk
•1 can full fat coconut cream
•1/2 c sugar
(or creamed honey)
•Dash of vanilla
•Freshly ground nutmeg
•Enough bourbon to enjoy
Whisk egg yolks in a bowl until creamy, add sugar and vanilla. Then coconut cream and milk (you can use whole milk and whole cream if you eat dairy) and mix. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until stiff. Fold into top of other mixture, grind fresh nutmeg over the top and serve.
Ammi Midstokke can be reached at [email protected]