What are superfoods?The ‘superfood’ tag is used to describe foods that are particularly high in essential nutrients and phytonutrients, minerals and antioxidants. These nutrient-rich foods are thought to be especially beneficial for your health and wellbeing..
Superfoods can include grains, berries, fruit and vegetables and by adding some to your diet, in a world of so many unhealthy options, can have benefits.
From boosting your immune system, increasing your metabolism and providing essential vitamins to your body, these are just some of the reasons to give them a try.
Here are 5 important superfoods to add to this weeks’ grocery list and spice up your diet.
1. What are goji berries?Goji berries have been used as a functional food and in traditional medicine in Asia for over 2,000 years. It is believed to have a number of purported benefits including promoting liver health and as an anti-ageing tonic.
Goji berries are a source of carotenoids, particularly zeaxanthin, which is known to have a positive effect on eye health. Goji berries contain polysaccharides, which are thought to be responsible for many of the benefits of the fruit, including as an antioxidant and for immune support as they contain high levels of vitamin A and C.
How to useWhile goji berries can be eaten raw, they make a great addition to any trail mix or when added to a smoothie or salad.
They can also be used creatively in baking and dessets. For a warm, soothing drink, infuse goji berries in hot water to make goji berry tea.
2. The benefits of kaleNative to the Mediterranean, kale has been cultivated for over 2000 years. Kale is a member of the cabbage family, alongside broccoli and Brussel sprouts. This group of vegetables has gained interest due to its phytonutrient profile.
Phytonutrients are plant-based substances that give our fruit and vegetables their colour, taste and smell but, in addition, contain many health benefits.
Kale in particular is a rich source of antioxidant vitamins A and C, isothiocyanates and indoles (phytonutrients). It is also one of the highest vegetable sources of calcium, making it a great option for those on a dairy-free diet.
How to cook kaleThere are many ways to get creative with kale. Add it to a stir-fry or blend it in your favourite green smoothie in the morning, or after a workout.
Alternatively, sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt and bake in the oven for about 8 minutes until crispy. Kale crisps are a healthy favourite.
3. Quinoa health benefitsQuinoa (pronounced ‘kin-wah’) is a native grain of the Andes of South America where it has been a staple food for thousands of years. Quinoa has gained popularity around the world as a super food due to its protein content.
Quinoa also has a glycemic index (GI) value of 53 making it a great choice for a low GI diet. In addition, its gluten-free and is a good source of the B group vitamins, as well as containing magnesium and potassium. On average, its a better source of minerals than wheat, corn and rice.
4. What is spirulina?Spirulina, or Arthrospira plantensis, is a type of blue-green algae which is found in warm, alkaline waters around the world, in particular Mexico and Central Africa.
Thought to be one of the world’s oldest superfoods, the use of spirulina dates back to the 16th century when the Aztecs harvested ‘blue mud’. In Africa, it was called Dhie and was harvested in the Sahara Desert a similar way to the Aztecs.
Spirulina contains almost 70% protein, which is highly digestible, and provides all of the essential amino acids. Its also a rich source of the B group vitamins, chlorophyll and a number of essential minerals including zinc, selenium and magnesium. It is also contains powerful antioxidant properties.
How to use spirulina powder
5. The nutritional value of wheatgrassWheatgrass, or Triticum aestivum, is the young green plant that grows to produce wheat grain. Like spirulina, wheatgrass is referred to as a “green superfood” rich in chlorophyll and containing vitamins A, C and E, iron, calcium and magnesium.
Wheatgrass also contains about 30 enzymes and is a complete protein containing all essential amino acids. Despite its name, wheatgrass does not contain gluten and is suitable for those on a gluten-free diet.
These are just some of the superfoods available but don’t be afraid to try new ingredients and recipes in your diet in order to reap the health benefits.