Island Grill's supaah food | Eating Healthy on the go
As the healthy lifestyle train continues to pick up speed in Jamaica, the need for healthier meals on the go becomes even more urgent. Diet and nutrition experts like Frances Mahfood, nutritionist at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, believe that Jamaicans have the unique advantage of access to wholesome unprocessed food like banana and breadfruit to serve this need. Last month , Island Grill became the first quick service restaurant chain to introduce the local foods as a menu option with its launch of Supaah Food.
Considered Jamaican super foods, unprocessed local foods such as banana, breadfruit, pumpkin and vegetables such as cabbage and callaloo provide a wide range of nutrients that is integral for health-conscious people on the move. Mrs. Mahfood said natural local foods are also very rich in fibre, a nutrient that many Jamaicans do not eat enough of.
"Fibre is essential for bodily functions, for helping with lowering blood pressure, for reducing the risk of heart disease by helping to maintain blood sugar and lowers the LDL or the "bad" cholesterol," Mahfood said. Mrs Mahfood shared that all foods in their natural state provide fibre, pointing out that vegetables are rich in fibre without containing any additional calories.
Mrs Mahfood said natural unprocessed foods that are produced in Jamaica are perfect to aid in the fight against diseases.
"The more we eat foods that does not go through any processing is the healthier we will be. It supplies our body with nourishment and nutrients that our bodies need to provide nourishment and prevent diseases. Fruits and vegetables are your daily multi vitamins so why not have them in wholesome foods? It is what the body wants, it doesn't want pills."
Island Grill's Supaah Food consists of locally grown breadfruit, banana, corn, pumpkin with callaloo or cabbage. Mrs Mahfood said Island Grill made a step in the right direction by, not only promoting healthy foods and making it accessible to the public, but promoting local foods and leading the education process about the nutritional value of the locally grown foods.
"All the foods in that meal support heart health, they have something to contribute to heart health because they are not processed. Eating wholesome supports heart health," Mahfood added.
Corn, which is high in fibre, is a resistant starch which means that the starch passes through the digestive tract unchanged and functions like a soluble fibre. Many studies in humans show that resistant starch can have powerful health benefits including improved insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, reduced appetite and various benefits for digestion.
"Pumpkin is also high in fibre, high in potassium and vitamin C. A diet high in potassium can lessen the effects of sodium which helps to control blood pressure. Pumpkin is a great vegetable to add to the diet. It also has beta carotene which is the precursor to Vitamin A and is good for eyesight," Mahfood added.
Breadfruit, which is another feature in Island Grill's new menu offerings, is a common local starch food, which Mahfood said is a wholesome and organic source of energy for the body.
"For the individual trying to use healthy eating as a preventative measure for conditions later on in life, eating wholesome organic food is a good start. This meal provides complete wholesome nourishment. It was low in sodium and high in a lot of vitamins and minerals," Mahfood said