Monday Medical: Build a healthier body with superfoods


Red goji berries and green chewy kale chips. Roasted pistachios and earthy cacao nibs. Green tea to drink and include in baked goods — these are a few of our favorite superfoods.

Registered dietitians Cara Marrs and Laura Stout and internal medicine physician Dr. Charlie Petersen sang the praises of 11 nutrient-dense, vitamin-packed foods at their monthly “Real Food” presentation at Yampa Valley Medical Center on Wednesday.

Superfoods are filled with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, all powerful antioxidants that may help protect against cancer, reduce menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis, lower the risk of urinary tract infections and even improve dental health.

Antioxidants help keep our bodies in balance by neutralizing harmful molecules called “free radicals,” Marrs explained.

“Free radicals are unstable molecules looking to scavenge and steal electrons from proteins, fats and DNA in our bodies, which leads to cell destruction,” she said. “Antioxidants can give up electrons and not become unstable themselves, but antioxidants then become inactive so a constant supply is needed.”

“Plants provide the best source of antioxidants,” Petersen said. “You can’t make up for a poor diet with vitamins. The answer is in food, not in supplements, so it is important to eat the right foods.”

There are many lists of superfoods — it’s a hot topic in magazines and books and on television. Stout shared her favorites and encouraged the audience to explore more.

Kale comes first on Stout’s list. High in Vitamin C, it protects against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal problems and eye disease. It also promotes healthy bones and brains and aids digestion.

This leafy plant can be roasted or sauteed, eaten raw in a salad, added to grain dishes or blended into smoothies. Lightly salted, drizzled with olive oil and nutritional yeast and baked, kale is transformed into tasty “chips.”

Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants. Although goji berries are the latest craze, Stout also touts blueberries, raspberries and mulberries. Pistachios are a great choice for encrusting fish and adding to baked goods, salads and grain dishes.

Quinoa, the super grain, is high in protein. Enjoy it cooked and served as a side or main dish, or add it to a salad. (I’ll vouch for this — I recently had a quinoa-spinach salad that was as delicious as it was nutritious.)

Green tea is a healthy substitute for high-calorie or higher-caffeine beverages. You get a double dose of antioxidants if you soften the robust flavor with a little organic raw honey — another superfood. Stout also recommended adding green tea matcha powder to baked goods or smoothies.

Citrus fruits are popular for their taste and health benefits. Cooking with citrus can brighten any recipe. Its tenderizing qualities make it an excellent addition to marinades.

On the other end of the superfoods spectrum, cacao was a new experience for many in the audience. The basis of dark chocolate, it has an earthy taste when consumed in its raw and unsweetened state.

Colorful, flavorful turmeric and licorice-like fennel can add zest and health benefits to any meal. Speaking of flavor, let’s not forget garlic. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, it boosts immunity and cardiovascular health and has anti-cancer properties.

Petersen said it is important to mince or slice garlic 10 to 15 minutes before heating it. This waiting period allows garlic to release the enzyme allicin.

He learned this tip from the book "On Food and Cooking," by Harold McGee, which he highly recommended.

Marrs and Stout will continue their Real Food series on Sept. 25 when the topic is gluten. They also provide individualized nutritional counseling sessions through YVMC’s Integrated Health program, reachable at 970-875-2731.

Christine McKelvie is a writer/editor for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at


David Caddell 3 years, 8 months ago

Cacao (cocoa, chocolate) is actually a toxic and highly addictive substance that causes a wide range of health problems including mood swings, angry outbursts, violence, depression, paranoia, dizziness, liver damage, and raised blood pressure.

It artificially stimulates the production of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, phenylethylamine and anandamide in the brain. This overstimulation causes an overall depletion of these neurotransmitters leading to addiction, insomnia, anxiety, obesity, hyperactivity, chronic pain, fatigue, nervousness, and adrenal fatigue.

Phenylethlamine is the chemical naturally released in the brain when people fall in love. This causes a euphoric feeling for which the body develops a tolerance like any other addictive substance. The addictive quality of this sensation is the reason why people fall into a pattern of serial relationships. The phenylethylamine that occurs naturally is much lower in quantity and potency than cacao, so the highly seductive and addictive quality of cacao can therefore be easily understood.

The bitter flavor of cacao is a natural indication that this is a poisonous substance and animals will not eat it in nature - and if they do it will often kill them. As many people know, chocolate is lethally poisonous to dogs.

(from When you eat chocolate or raw cacao, it’s as if you have toked a little off a joint, drank a bit of wine, snorted some cocaine and shot up some heroin all at the same time, because it stimulates endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and anandamide in the same manner as these drugs. It is somewhat less potent than the harder drugs; but still the exact same process in the brain. It is no wonder the world is in love with chocolate.Emphasis

Cacao also interacts negatively with many medications.

The benefits of the antioxidant quality and rich magnesium content of cacao arguably do not come close to outweighing the many health risks involved.



Brian Kotowski 3 years, 7 months ago

How did the human race ever survive without the Bloombergs, Michele Obamas, and David Caddells to protect us from ourselves? Eating chocolate's like ingesting alcohol, weed, coke, & smack - simultaneously. Who knew? I'm sure I'm at death's door. Knew I shouldn't have had that mocha almond fudge ice cream last night.

Am I the only one who rolled their eyes when Michele Obama presumed to lecture Gabby Douglas about her diet? That girl probably burns more calories in an hour than the rest of us do in a day. Some people need to mind their own business.


mark hartless 3 years, 7 months ago

How many of these super foods can be grown here in the land of the 59 day growing season?

"you keep doin' that cocaine and you gonna get hooked." Awe, Mama don't worry, I been doin this stuff for 20 years and I ain't hooked."- the late Richard Pryor


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

I love my Kombucha! May not be a "superfood", but it's full of whats good for you.


David Caddell 3 years, 7 months ago

The cacao that is being promoted as a superfood is not at all similar to the chocolate in candy bars and ice cream. This article is referencing a form of the bean which is unproccessed, concentrated and highly potent. It has a very bitter flavor similar to eating coffee grounds.

The statement about this substance affecting the same areas of the brain as street drugs is scientifically proven. Although the potency is less, the brain is still effected. Click the web site that I referenced at the beginning of that paragraph to see for yourself.

I have seen people become insomniac, anxious, depressed and addicted from regular consumption of cacao. I provided sources for my information including mainstream research. Check it out for yourself to decide if you want to buy into the hype surrounding this product.

I have been aware of the promotion of cacao as a superfood for the past five years. My experience is that it hurts people. This is why I share this viewpoint. Otherwise I am happy to mind my own business.


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