Ever wondered what’s with all the fuss about superfoods? Now’s the time to find out! In this post I’ll
give you the low-down on why superfoods are so good for you, then I’ll give you a list of the best
superfoods you can add to your diet.
What are superfoods, exactly?
Superfoods are foods that are nutritionally dense, meaning they’re very high in the vitamins and
nutrients we need to stay fit and well. Eating plenty of superfoods can help you maintain healthy skin, nails and hair, and help boost your energy levels.
Superfoods can also help you stay a healthy weight, because they allow you to
consume fewer calories to get a nutritional benefit. What’s more, incorporating a good variety of
superfoods into your diet could help ward off illnesses like heart disease, and even improve memory and brain function.
Read on for a list of the best superfoods you can add to your diet - including some that might surprise you!
Blueberries are very high in certain antioxidants called flavonoids (these are what gives the berries
their blue colour). Flavonoids have a host of health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart
disease and some cancers, improving skin and blood flow, improving memory and boosting the
immune system. It’s also recently been suggested blueberries could protect your heart muscles. What’s more, they contain plenty of fibre, so they’ll help you stay fuller for longer. Enjoy them in smoothies or with your morning cereal.
One of the few superfoods that aren’t plant-based, eggs contain nutrients like B vitamins, choline,
selenium and vitamin A. While they were once considered potentially unhealthy because of their
high cholesterol content, it’s since been found eggs have no adverse effects on your heart – in fact,
they may increase your levels of ‘good’ cholesterol. They’re also a great source of quality protein,
especially if you don’t eat meat.
Natural yogurt is another good source of protein, and it’s an excellent source of vitamin D and
calcium. What’s more, live yogurt contains probiotics, the bacteria that promotes a healthy digestive system. Yogurt isn’t just for breakfast, either! Try using it as a healthy alternative to cream in curries and sauces.
Another non-veggie superfood, salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3
acids have a host of health benefits: they’re thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke,
and lower your cholesterol. Salmon is also rich in other nutrients, such as protein, B vitamins, potassium and selenium. Salmon’s easy to cook, too – simply season and pan-fry for a few minutes
on each side.
Spinach is packed full of iron, a nutrient that’s needed for transporting oxygen around the body.
Women, in particular, need to include plenty of iron-rich foods in their diet. Spinach also delivers a
high dose of other essential nutrients including folate, and vitamins A and K. It’s easy to cook, too –
simply toss some into a salad, sauté in butter or oil, or wilt it with a quick dash of hot water.
You might not associate your favourite movie-time snack with superfoods, but popcorn is actually a
whole grain that’s packed with fibre, vitamins, healthy oils and antioxidants. In fact, it’s thought
popcorn has a higher antioxidant content than many fruits and vegetables! A word of caution, though – those packets of microwave popcorn can include harmful chemicals, so
for best results cook your popcorn with an air-popper, or on a hot pan with a little oil.
The staple of countless stir fry’s and casseroles, broccoli and other cruciferous veggies like cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower are high in vitamins A, C and K and folic acid. It’s thought these vegetables help us fight disease, and may even help prevent some types of cancer.
Lentils are a vegan’s best friend, thanks to a whopping dose of healthy fibre and protein. And
because they’re also low in fat they make a great substitute for meat. What’s more, they’re rich in B
vitamins, magnesium, zinc and potassium. You can enjoy lentils in dals, soups and casseroles.
Chocolate a superfood, really? In some cases, yes! Dark chocolate – in particular chocolate with a
high cocoa content – is another superfood that’s rich in flavonoids. These flavonoids help to protect
you against inflammatory diseases, and have been linked to improved memory and immune system. Dark chocolate does contain added sugar though, so it’s best to enjoy in moderation. To get the most benefit, eat chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher.
All nuts are nutritious powerhouses, packed with protein, fibre and vitamins. Walnuts in particular
are rich in a kind of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid. This acid can reduce bad cholesterol in the blood, reduce inflammation of the arteries, and lower the risk of heart disease. Walnuts are also a good source of selenium and magnesium.
A low-fat complex carb, oats take a long time to digest, so they’re a great choice if you’re watching your weight. What’s more, because they are whole grains, oats are packed with essential nutrients including manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and B vitamins.
Oats are also thought to reduce bad cholesterol, improve blood sugar levels and even improve skin
conditions such as eczema. You can enjoy oats for breakfast in your porridge or muesli, but oats are also a great addition to baking recipes and even vegan casseroles!
Last on our list is the humble tomato. Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C and potassium. What’s
more, they’re high in a special kind of antioxidant called lycopene, which is thought to help protect
against chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Tomatoes also contain lutein,
which protects the eye from light-induced damage. So there you have a list of the top superfoods, with some tips on how you can cook and enjoy them, too. It’s a good idea to include a wide variety of these superfoods alongside a range of other healthy foods to make sure you have a balanced diet.
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful, and if so, do feel free to share it! Are you looking for ways to include superfoods in delicious home-cooked meals? Take a look at some of my recipes.