Superfoods have become a bit of a trendy word in heath, with a new one popping up in magazines and health blogs on a regular basis but are they necessary and what is a Super Food?
A Superfood is simply a food which is nutrient dense and is especially beneficial for health – this can relate to a number of different foods and is often just a marketing tool as there isn’t a single food alone which can fight disease and give you great health. It’s also worth noting that superfoods don’t cancel out a poor diet!
Often these “superfoods” can be expensive and are sourced from exotic locations but sometimes it is better to go for cheaper, locally produced foods instead. For example, goji berries have had a superfood status for a while due to their antioxidant, immune boosting and vitamin C content but their vitamin C content is significantly lower than that of blackcurrants and red peppers.
Here are some “superfoods” that you can include in your diet for better health:
Oats are a good source of B vitamins as well as manganese, copper and magnesium. They also contain soluble and in-soluble fibre and act as a prebiotic to help feed the beneficial bacteria in the body. They are probably best known for their beta-glucan content which can help to lower cholesterol.
Legumes – Beans, peas, lentils.
These are a good source of protein and fibre which can help to stabilise your blood sugar levels and increase energy levels – they are also rich in soluble fibre which can help to lower cholesterol levels. As well as this, they also are very nutrient dense and contain good levels of magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc and B vitamins which can help to lower blood pressure, increase energy levels and reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. If you are using dried beans, it is best to soak them beforehand for at least 15 minutes as they can be difficult to digest for some people.
Quinoa is a grain which is known for it’s high protein content, making it a good choice for vegetarians and vegans. It is also naturally gluten free and is a good source of B vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc as well as being a good source of dietary fibre.
Blueberries have a superfood status due to their antioxidant effects. They are high in vitamin c and fibre as well as numerous phytonutrients which make them great for anti-inflammation and to improve the immune system.
Blackcurrants are high in many nutrients but particularly vitamin c, potassium. Phytonutrients and omega 6 (in the seeds) so they are also beneficial for immune boosting and anti-inflammation.
Tomatoes are a good source of many vitamins such as A, C and K and minerals such as potassium and manganese. They are best known for their benefits to male health in the form of Lycopene which has been studied in the prevention of prostate cancer.
Best known for their vitamin C content, they are also a good source of potassium, vitamin A, folate and calcium. The vitamin c content means that they have antioxidant and immune supporting properties and the high potassium contents shows that they could be beneficial in reducing the risk of high blood pressure. There is also some evidence that vitamin c rich foods may improve the lung function in people with asthma.
Apples contain good levels of fibre, potassium and vitamin C. The pectin in apples, which is a soluble fibre can help to normalise bowel function and is the most effective fibre for constipation.