Superfoods 101: Q & A with Dr. Cooke

Superfoods 101: Q & A with Dr. Cooke

Q&A between Brightland + Dr. Elke Cooke, MD.

Brightland: When was the first time you heard the term superfood?

Dr. Cooke: Superfood is a term that seemed to pop up around the early 2000s. I personally started paying more attention to different kinds of superfoods once I had kids and wanted to make sure that I fed them food high in diverse nutrients.

Brightland: What does a superfood mean to you?

Dr. Cooke: To me, superfoods are any foods that are naturally occurring, nutrient dense, with a good amount of antioxidants and other essential nutrients that my body can't produce on its own. However, it is important that I don't just overeat one type of food, but rather a diversity of whole foods with many different colors.

Brightland: What are your favorite superfoods and why?

Dr. Cooke: I consider most whole foods superfoods. However some foods are stronger medicines than others. In my work with patients I find tremendous benefits in seeking out anti-inflammatory foods high in Omega 3s such as wild caught salmon and olive oil. Personally, I like hemp seeds because of their complete protein profile, abundant minerals such as magnesium, zinc and iron as well as their healthy fatty acids.

Brightland: Why is extra virgin olive oil a superfood?

Dr. Cooke: Olive oil is a superfood because it is rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). These fats help lower the risk of heart disease and have been found to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. Olive oil also contains large amounts of polyphenols which act as antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory properties. But it doesn't stop there. Oleocanthal, a phytonutrient found in extra virgin olive oil and other components such as squalene and lignans are other properties of olive oil effective in defense of cancer. Olive oil may also contribute to the protection of the brain against Alzheimer's Disease.

Brightland: What are 3 easy ways to incorporate superfoods in our everyday routines?

Dr. Cooke: Boost your morning oatmeal with superfoods such as hemp seeds or flaxseeds, different berries, and nuts such as pecans or walnuts. Use slow-cooked oats instead of instant oats.

Elke Cooke, M.D. practices anti-aging and preventive medicine at BodyLogicMD of Sacramento where she uses individual, customized wellness programs tailored to address each patient's specific, personal needs. Dr. Cooke is trained in Emergency Medicine as well as Functional Medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine,A4M, the Kalish Mentorship Program and the Clinical Development Program with Dr Kara Fitzgerald. You can find her on