There are many new and exotic Superfoods arriving in our shops every day. Foods with excellent health track records in their country of origin are finding their way into all manner of products. New recipes calling for these exotics appear every single day. But this week a client who is very diet conscious, always seeking out the foods that give her the most benefits for each mouthful, brought up the subject of ‘Everyday Superfoods’ – good traditional foods that are easy to find wherever you happen to be eating.
This particular client wanted to know just what some of the best plain and simple Superfoods are. Although she regularly eats a wide array of exotic Superfoods, including acai berry, spirulina, maca, edamame, and others, she wanted to know about Superfoods that she can access every day, whether she is at home, work or eating out with friends.
Superfoods is a recently coined term used to describe a group of foods that are light in kilojoules and very dense in nutrients, particularly antioxidants and other essential nutrients that we are unable to make for ourselves. Another requirement of Superfoods is that they are foods found in nature. They are thought to have many extra health benefits and are considered highly beneficial because they provide a solid dose of nutrients for each mouthful.
Superfoods fall into different food categories. Many are vegetables, particularly the green leafy types, or fruits. Many nuts are considered Superfoods because they are rich in antioxidants to clean up free radicals that cause inflammation in your body.
Free radicals are a normal part of metabolism and your body has mechanisms in place to deal with those ones. But free radicals are also produced in your body in response to environmental factors like pollution, tobacco smoke, charred food, trans fats, electrical appliances, mobile phones and can quickly cause much damage that can lead to serious chronic disease.
10 BASIC EVERYDAY SUPERFOODS
These are such common foods, now nobody has any excuse not to include as many foods from this list as they can every single day.
The deep blue colour of blueberries is the give away that they are rich with antioxidants, ranking highly on ORAC, which measures the antioxidant value of foods. An anti aging superstar, they are one of the best sources of flavonoids around to help preserve memory function and slow down loss of motor coordination. High levels of the cancer fighting antioxidant, ellegic acid and studies have shown them to have greater cancer fighting capabilities than other fruits. Many recent studies have shown they slow the growth of certain tumours. Anti-inflammatory
Long before we became aware of the benefits of antioxidants Popeye was onto their awesomeness. Spinach is loaded up with antioxidants and truly a simple Superfood. It contains vitamin C, betacarotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin to protect your eyes, with lots of vitamin K for cardiovascular and bone health, as well as iron for strong hair and nails.
Well known as a nutrient packed vegetable with cancer fighting properties, broccoli is loaded with vitamin C, folic acid and carotenoids (vitamin A) to protect from free radical damage, improve immune function and reproductive health. Broccoli contains high levels of vitamin K to build strong bones and help blood clotting. It also contains significant amounts of fibre, vitamin B2 and potassium.
Delicious avocados are an excellent source of healthy raw monosaturated fat. They contain nearly twenty nutrients including fibre (10 to 17 grams in each fruit), high levels of potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins, folic acid and lutein for healthy eyes and skin. They protect from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, eye and brain disease. They help stabilize blood sugars, are great for heart disorders and assist with tissue regeneration. In addition avocados help you properly absorb other fat-soluble nutrients.
Raw almonds are loaded with good (monosaturated) fats and fibre to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Rich in phytochemicals to promote heart and vascular health and a great source of minerals including magnesium, potassium, calcium and vitamins E and B6, they make a great afternoon snack. Munch on them in place of other less healthy options.
6. LENTILS & BEANS
All beans and legumes are beneficial. They are low in fat with lots of iron and B vitamins (including folate). A great complex carbohydrate, they are filling but low kilojoule. They contain magnesium and potassium for heart and circulatory health. They are an excellent source of protein, and with a low GI they help control rises in blood sugar. Combined with complex grains like oats or barley they provide all the essential amino acids needed for a complete protein. Perhaps the most nutritious legume is lentils. Also, they are inexpensive! Add them to your diet every week.
The humble apple is often overlooked in the plethora of new Superfoods around. Apples are loaded with quercetin and catechin, both powerful antioxidants, to protect cells from free radical damage. Apple peel is where most of the nutrients lie so don’t peel them. They are also a great source of fibre. You may like to consider eating organic apples as they are one of the foods that regularly appear on the Environmental Working Committee’s DIRTY DOZEN list of the foods that are most highly sprayed with pesticides.
8. SARDINES & SALMON
Wild caught salmon is packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. It also contains vitamin D and selenium for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Farmed salmon on the other hand, (the only salmon available in Australia) is low in omega-3 and contains contaminants, so to get the benefit of eating salmon you need to make sure it is wild caught. Unfortunately as all salmon in Australia is farmed, the only wild caught one I have ever found is one brand of tinned salmon from Alaska. Wild caught salmon comes from Scotland, Alaska and Canada.
With just as much omega-3 as salmon, sardines are a much better choice in many ways. They are always wild caught so do not contain all the contaminants that you find in farmed salmon. Also being so small you can eat them up bones and all, and they are extra good as then you also get a hefty dose of calcium.
Eggs are a powerhouse of valuable nutrients, especially if they are organic. They contain the highest quality nutritional protein of all foods containing about 6 grams, and loaded with nine amino acids, eleven vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin A and folate, naturally occurring vitamin B12 for healthy red blood cells, choline for memory and brain development and lutein and zeanthine for protection against eye disease.
Eating eggs for breakfast gives you a great start to the day and studies show that it may lead to you eating fewer kilojoules through the day because they rank highly on the satiety list.
But forget about eating the whites only, it’s the yolk that holds all the nutrients.
By the way, the link between eating eggs and blood cholesterol is an old myth and studies have shown there is no connection.
Whole grain oats are one of the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre to metabolise fats and promote healthy digestive system. They are low glycaemic to help control blood sugar levels. As well as helping improve your skin, they are brilliant for those suffering from stress and tiredness. No wonder we’re always been told to eat porridge for breakfast, oats are rich in niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin E and antioxidants. Packed with protein, they are a great way to kick-start your day.
Check back here for Part 2 next week when I’ll give you 10 more basic Superfoods, incuding some that are newer and not quite so common, to eat everyday.
What are your favourite Superfoods? Which do you choose to make certain you have some every day?
All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.