The term superfood is one which has gained lots of press and popularity in recent years, but what is it that makes a food super? Well, superhumanly high doses of health boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is a great place to start.
Essentially superfoods are a type of food that benefits your body in a great way. Thanks to their high levels of good stuff, they can enable you to feel healthier in mind and body, while warding off illnesses such as colds and flu (through a boost to the immune system) and even help to reduce the risk of chronic or life-threatening conditions.
Combined with regular exercise, plenty of sleep and good hydration, a healthy diet is one of the major players, when it comes to keeping ourselves in the best possible condition. And a healthy diet involves packing in plenty of superfoods.
What do superfoods contain?
So, what is it that superfoods have in them that makes them so great? The superfoods group is made up of a wide range of tastes and flavours, from fruit and vegetables, to dairy products and carbohydrates, however, they tend to have high levels of one or more of the following:
Antioxidants (these help protect your cells from the damage caused by free radicals)
Vitamins (A, B-vitamins, C, D, E & K)
Omega-3 fatty acids
Minerals (such as iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium)
If, in the new year, you’ve made plans to get healthier, here is an A-Z of some great superfoods to try, when you’re looking to improve your daily diet:
● Avocado – excellent source of fibre, vitamins E and B6, and healthy monounsaturated fat.
● Berries – examples include vitamin C and antioxidant rich blueberries and strawberries.
● Chia Seeds – packed full of magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium.
● Dark Chocolate – whoever thought chocolate would be good for you? This healthy alternative to milk chocolate and white chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidants.
● Eggs – rich in many nutrients including B vitamins, choline, selenium, vitamin A, iron and phosphorus, as well as being high in protein and omega-3.
● Fish – especially oily fish such as salmon – is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, offering fantastic health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease.
● Green Tea, Garlic, Ginger, Goji Berries – so many amazing superfoods begin with G and every single one of these is packed full of great stuff for the health.
● Hemp – packed full of essential fatty acids and protein.
● Inca berries – one of the many superfoods to come out of South America (like goji berries above), they’re a powerhouse of vitamins, plus, contain plenty of protein and fibre.
● Jalapenos – super spicy, but full of pain relieving capsaicin and great for a healthy metabolism.
● Kale and Kalettes – one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, absolutely packed full of vitamins, fibre and antioxidants.
● Legumes – such as lentils, beans, peas – great sources of vitamins, protein and fibre.
● Mushrooms – lots of vitamins, protein and fibre, as well as the powerful antioxidant selenium, which helps to support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues.
● Nuts and seeds – eating certain types is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol.
● Olive Oil – rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, full of antioxidants and even contains anti-inflammatory properties. Great for heart health.
● Prunes – brilliant for the digestive system and a great source of vitamin A, fibre and antioxidants.
● Quinoa – nutty grain related to vegetables like kale and Swiss chard – provides essential amino acids.
● Raspberries – contain strong antioxidants, plenty of vitamins and fibre.
● Spinach – as with most dark leafy greens is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals.
● Tomatoes – mainly known for the high levels of cancer fighting antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes also contain plenty of vitamin C, folate, potassium and vitamin K.
● Ugli Fruit – just one of these Jamaican fruits contains 140% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C.
● Vegetables – in general, great sources of nutrients – and so many to pick and choose from.
● Wholegrains (such as brown rice) – these are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and plenty of fibre.
● Xigua – common watermelon found in Africa, a great source of the antioxidant lycopene, which is excellent for cancer prevention and heart health.
● Yoghurt – great for the digestive health and full of nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium.
● Zucchini – an impressively nutrient dense food, which again is fab for the digestion and contains sources of pretty much every major vitamin and mineral your body needs.