“Superfoods”. A word that is used a lot lately, especially in the media to ramp up sales of certain products, most of which are from far away tropical countries with names that most people either can’t pronounce or mispronounce (quinoa is the funniest). However, a super food doesn’t need to be an expensive product, there are many right here in the UK that are available to us nearly all year round that we can make good use of, woo!
Here are some of my favourites that you’ll regularly find in my shopping basket.
Garlic is an excellent antimicrobial and high in a compound called allicin which helps to reduce cholesterol and widen blood vessels thus reducing blood pressure.
1 lemon contains approx 36% of your RDI for Vitamin C which is an excellent antioxidant and easy to get by squeezing lemon juice onto food or into water. Again, this food is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory as well as helping to break up fat making it easier for your liver to perform digestion processes. Lemon juice can also bind to excess oestrogen and eliminate it from the body, this is beneficial as some hormone related cancers such as breast cancer have been linked with excess oestrogen. Lemons also contain a fibre called “pectin” which your good bacteria love!
High in vitamins K, C and folate & this tastes great with hummus! Furthermore, broccoli (but especially broccoli sprouts
) contain glucosinolates that are converted into sulforaphane (SFN) which can inhibit enzymes that are required by a variety of toxins for them to be metabolised and activated, but SFN also activates the Nrf2 defence response in cells resulting in less reactive oxygen species (ROS) being generated which are the molecules that can damage DNA and increased levels of which have been linked to cancer.
A lovely salmon fillet is a great source of protein, vitamin B12 & omega 3’s (EPA & DHA – long names I’m sure you don’t care to memorise). These omega 3’s are fatty acids which are highly beneficial for the body but are especially good for the heart & brain. A good reason to eat fish high in these omegas is that they are a different type than the ones found in nuts which is primarily a-linolenic acid (ALA), and only small amounts of EPA/DHA can be made from ALA therefore the only other way is to consume fish such as salmon. Try to go for wild, Alaskan variety as it contains less mercury or ask your local fishmonger for a good quality one.
These beauties are probably the easiest everyday super food to get your hands on and they really are great! As eggs are the starting material for the growth of new chicks, by nature they are packed with what the body needs. They contain vitamins A, B, D and E as well as selenium (powerful antioxidant), iron, zinc and protein amongst others. Overall, a great natural food that you can pronounce and don’t have to spend a fortune on. TIP: Remember, most of the nutrition is in the yolk
These are a great little snack with a variety to choose from in many local shops. In general nuts are high in fibre, good fats, are a decent source of protein and antioxidants. Brazil nuts impress me in particular for their high selenium content as you need approx. one large brazil nut a day to get 100% of your RDI for selenium (note: men have a slightly higher requirement so may need 2, depending on sizes) which is a crucial mineral for the immune system, mood, as mentioned before it is a powerful antioxidant which helps keep cells healthy & prevent DNA damage.
Other impressive nuts (feel free to laugh at that) are walnuts as they are high in omega 3, the ALA mentioned above.
Although study in this area has only begun, there are theories that there is a type of fat/molecule within nuts that helps prevent the absorption of other fat/calories as studies on individuals who consumed the same diet as the controls (other than the added nuts) were actually thinner and contained less fat around their middle. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22331685
Another study on children at risk of being overweight also found benefits (lower BMI) from eating nuts: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160304092016.htm
Nuts are highly beneficial for our health so their regular consumption should be encouraged not demonised as most high fat foods are, just make sure they’re not mouldy as this indicates fungi contamination which is quite prevalent in nuts (esp peanuts) in certain parts of the world. If concerned about their calorie content then portion them out so you know what you are consuming.
A great source of vitamins A, C, E, K, folate & B6 but also fibre, healthy fat, with more potassium than a banana per 100g, which helps to lower blood pressure. Also a great source of glutathione, again another strong antioxidant and one that helps remove toxins from the body and prevents their activation thus reducing the damage they can do.
This fruit makes a great chocolate pudding when blended with almonds, honey, cacao powder and almond milk, or just crushed with honey and cacao for a delicious treat!
|My mint choc chip nicecream that includes avocado for creaminess
I have to say, I’m mad for oats, I know how that sounds as most people think oats are boring but I adore anything made with them and they are so versatile that in my opinion can’t be boring.
Oats are great for their fibre content, but they contain high amounts of soluble fibre (beta glucan) which forms a gel in the digestive tract & absorbs cholesterol molecules which are then excreted from the body. This is why those porridge adverts state that consumption of their product “may help reduce high cholesterol”.
Oat bran, which is the outer coating that is usually removed, can be purchased in health food shops & is even higher in beta glucan. It is recommended that 3 grams of beta glucan is what’s needed to begin lowering cholesterol.
Another reason why their fibre content is so good is that this helps remove excess debris from the digestive tract meaning less accumulation of nasty things that shouldn’t be there for too long which could actually be re-absorbed if not removed!
Nutritionally speaking, oats are great because they are high in vitamin B1 (thiamine), phosphorous, manganese and magnesium, this last one is great for the nervous system and when combined with oats slow release energy are great for those of a nervous disposition or wanting to avoid energy surges & drops.
Happy healthy eating!