The term super foods has certainly been bandied around a lot, but what makes a food a superfood? Superfoods are nutrient dense, mostly whole foods that are packed full of antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins & minerals, and micro-nutrients.
In a world that is bombarding us with environmental toxins, with chemicals and pesticides leeching into our food and water supply, its imperative we fuel our bodies with anti-oxidant rich super foods and the best nutrition on the planet, enabling us to remain healthy in our toxic world.
Here is my list of incredibly nutritious good food choices that should be consumed regularly. Are they super? I’ll let you decide.
Quinoa is a relatively new kid on the block in the western diet but has been around for centuries. The ancient civilisation – The Incas loved the stuff. Although it looks like a grain, Quinoa is actually a seed and is cooked whole so all the nutritional value remains. It is gluten free, is high in complete protein, fibre, magnesium, antioxidants and is Low GI. My favourite is the black quinoa but it also comes in white and red varieties.
2. Cruciferous veggies including Kale and Broccoli.
Cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale and broccoli definitely deserve superfood status. They are high in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fibre and low in fat, but the main reason we should be consuming these super foods is they may lower your cancer risk. (1)
These little purple delights are jam packed full of anti-oxidants, essential to combat free radical damage caused by the myriad chemicals and contaminants we are exposed to daily. Fresh is best and blueberries should be washed and enjoyed straight from the container.
Whether you roast it whole, blend into a vegetable juice or grate it into a salad, beetroots are fabulous and taste great. They are nutrient rich, high in antioxidants and are great for liver and gut health. Make sure you wear gloves if grating raw beetroot into a salad as it can temporarily stain your hands.
How good does a home grown tomato taste? I love eating them straight from the vine, cut open, salted and peppered, eaten like an apple. Apart from their delicious, refreshing taste, tomatoes are high in phytochemicals, flavonoids and antioxidants including Lycopene which has been shown very beneficial in mens prostate health. Cooking or roasting tomatoes makes the lycopene more readily available and biologically active so are best served cooked.
Sardines contain one of the most concentrated forms of EPA and DHA fatty acids (the good fats) necessary for brain function, memory and cognition. Sardines contain high levels of B12, selenium and phosphorous, micronutrients also necessary for optimal health. Sardines are also a good source of vitamin D which works synergistically with calcium for bone health.
Almonds are my mid afternoon go to snack. Not only are they delicious and nutritionally dense, almonds are one of the only high protein foods that are alkali forming. When your body is not mildly alkaline, you are more at risk of chronic disease, poor immune function, low energy and weight gain. Try a handful for a mid afternoon snack today.
7. Capsicum (Red Pepper)
There are lots of very colourful foods on this list. Colourful foods are high in Vitamin C, antioxidant rich, nutrient dense foods and capsicum is another great one. Their sweet, crunchy flavour makes the perfect addition to many salads and because they are perfect raw, nutrients are not destroyed or denatured during the cooking process.
9. Sweet Potato
Like many of their vibrant colourful vegetable counterparts, Sweet potato are very high in antioxidants, carotenoids, vitamins and minerals too. What singles out sweet potato is their low GI content. The sugars in sweet potato are released much slower than the sugars in regular potatoes helping to ensure a balanced and lasting source of energy without the blood sugar spikes and ensuing sluggishness and fatigue. Make the switch from regular to sweet potato today.
10. Dark Chocolate
Yay for dark chocolate. Apart from being one of the richest sources of antioxidants and polyphenols, its the flavonoid compounds that have scientists touting it’s greatness. Flavonoids have been shown to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart.
11. Green Tea
Last on the list is obviously not a food but a drink, and its my favourite drink. Green tea is also very high in antioxidants and catechins and has many positive attributes to assist with free radical scavenging, cell renewal and repair, and destruction of damaged cells.
This damage and wear of cells in our bodies occurs constantly by simple daily activities including breathing and digestion, but also occurs through exposure to environmental pollutants and chemicals, as well as recreational toxins including cigarette smoke.
The best way to protect our bodies from the onslaught of daily oxidative stress is by consuming the best, nutrient dense, anti-oxidant rich food sources. A balanced diet is also key to ensure we are receiving the right ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fats daily.
If you eat crap food your body won’t perform very well. However if you regularly eat well, you are giving your body the opportunity to function optimally. Our bodies need 90 essential nutrients in the right ratio, every day, for optimal health. Are you ingesting your 90 everyday?
I’d love your feedback or comments. Do you have another superfood that should make the list that I have forgotten?