A lifestyle change pretty simply meant changing the way I ate. It is after all 80% what you eat versus 20% exercise. Truth be told, I didn’t eat badly, granted carbs and sugars were my Achilles heel. I did however consume far more calories than my body needed. So I did some research to figure out the foods that would be more beneficial to my health and well-being and then came across the buzzword SUPERFOODS. Pretty much everywhere l looked and everyone I spoke to mentioned superfoods.
Definition of Superfoods
According to the Oxford dictionary Superfoods are nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
The Lovely World of Marketing
Superfoods are however somewhat subjective. There is no legal or medical definition for superfoods and they don’t have their own food group. As a result marketing companies world-wide have jumped onto the bandwagon and have made extensive use of the term. They are able to use the term SUPERFOODS to get more feet in the doors and improve their sales. Despite this fact, superfoods do have major health benefits so it’s a matter of knowing the details behind the so-called superfood in question. Superfoods should be as close as possible to their natural state.
What’s So Super about Superfoods
Superfoods are packed to the brim with antioxidants, minerals, polyphenols and vitamins. Eating them is a good idea as they may reduce the risk of chronic disease and prolong life. People who eat more superfoods tend to be healthier than those who don’t and in the struggle to lose weight and/or stay healthy, we can do with all the help we can get. So fill up on nutrient packed foods that can not only help flight disease, but also leave you feeling more energetic and even aid in weightloss.
While there is a long list of superfoods one can consume, here’s a breakdown of the superfoods always found in my kitchen :-
- Almonds – are a great source of potassium, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron. They make for the perfect snack and almond flour is the perfect alternative for healthy baking!
- Avocados – are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. Although most of the calories in an avocado come from fat, the good kind that is!
- Beans & Lentils – eating more legumes (such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils) improved blood sugar control and reduce heart disease risk for patients with type 2 diabetes. Legumes are a powerful weight-loss super food.
- Bell Peppers – Red bell peppers are packed with antioxidants. The combined effects of vitamin A and C create a great antioxidant capacity, and with lycopene in the mix, the red bell pepper becomes a top notch superfood. I use the green, yellow and orange ones as well.
- Blue berries – packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, these berries are also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them the top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory. I always keep a stash in the freezer just in case
- Broccoli – has held the reputation for being the healthiest veggies because of its nutritional makeup. This superfood is loaded with fiber, antioxidants to fight cancer, and vitamin C to aid in iron absorption
- Cauliflower – This super-power-packed veggie has plenty of benefits of its own. Part of the cruciferous family (including other superfoods like broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts), cauliflower includes plenty of vitamins and minerals, but its real power comes from cancer-fighting compounds known as glucosinolates.
- Chia seeds – are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, antioxidants, and calcium. Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike flaxseeds).
- Coconut – Whether you eat the meat of the fruit, drink the water or milk, or use the oil, you can get some serious health benefits and even improve your appearance with this tropical food. One of the striking and unusual features of the coconut compared to other fruits is the amount of water it contains. This water has provided important hydration for people for thousands of years. In addition to the water in the young fruits, people have always eaten the meat, or the white part of the fruit.
- Dark chocolate – The cocoa bean contains antioxidant flavonoids, insoluble fibre, magnesium and copper. The fibre helps lower cholesterol and may help reduce the rate of cancer as well as constipation. Magnesium helps soothe the nervous system and relax muscles. And while still inconclusive, studies are linking cocoa to slowing dementia because of the antioxidants and Vitamins E and B. The polyphenols found in cocoa have also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity that can lead to diabetes.
- Eggs -Eggs are considered to be a complete protein because they contain all 9 essential amino acids. They are building blocks for the body. Eggs contain nutrients that are believed to prevent heart disease: B6 and B12 vitamins, riboflavin, folate, and choline. Additionally, they contain lutein and zeaxanthin which help with eye health, as well as Vitamins A, D, and E, selenium, and iron.
- Flax seeds – has been linked to reducing your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes as well as reducing inflammation in those suffering from arthritis. Flaxseed has four great ingredients that give it its healthy reputation: essential fatty acids, lignans, flavonoids, and fibre. They curb stiffness and joint pain, lowering levels of depression, improving lung function in asthmatics by lowering inflammation, and improving mental and cognitive skills.
- Garlic – Consuming garlic on a daily basis helps to lower cholesterol levels because of the anti-oxidant properties of Allicin. It is also immensely beneficial to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- Greek Yogurt – this dairy product, which is different from regular yoghurt is a creamy, rich yogurt with less sugar, more protein, and a tart taste. The acidity also makes it easier for your body to absorb other nutrients.
- Hot Peppers – In addition to capsaicin, chilies are high in antioxidant carotenes and flavonoids, and contain about twice the amount of vitamin C found in citrus fruits. Almost any dish can benefit from small amounts of hot peppers.
- Lemons & Limes – besides tasting delicious and providing my dishes with a light and fresh flavor, lemon has a wide variety of health benefits that shouldn’t be ignored. They are filled with large amounts of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants. It boosts the immune system and increases overall heart health.
- Mushrooms – are also great sources of protein, fibre, B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, minerals and selenium. They also contain some unique antioxidants, such as ergothioneine, which according to studies is a highly powerful antioxidant
- Olive Oil – Olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, is a major component of the Mediterranean diet. Populations from that region have longer life expectancies and lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, compared with North Americans and Northern Europeans
- Pomogranates – the benefits of this fruit in the edible seeds and the sweet-tart juice. Just one glass of pomegranate juice has the same polyphenol content as two glasses of red wine, four glasses of cranberry juice, or 10 cups of green tea. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and calcium.
- Quinoa – is filled to the brim with a variety of nutrients including plenty of protein, potassium and fibre. This round seed is used as a grain or as a substitute for rice and is closely related to species such as beetroots and spinach. It’s gluten-free and high in essential amino acids!
- Salmon – Like walnuts and flaxseeds, -salmon contains a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which research suggests can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Sunflower Seeds – reduces the risk for heart disease, helps to prevent cancer due to high antioxidant content and supports thyroid function through selenium. It also helps combat osteoporosis, bone loss, and muscle cramps. Sunflower seeds balance blood sugar levels and Helps Ward off Diabetes. Improves Skin Health.
- Sweet Potatoes – are high in many important nutrients. They contain a good amount of fibre as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese and several other vitamins and minerals. In addition to the nutrients above, sweet potatoes also contain riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium and iron.
- Tomatoes – classified as a fruit (not a veggie), tomatoes have the ability to protect against prostate cancer including digestive tract, cervix, bladder, and lung cancers. Ironically, processed tomatoes play a key role in reducing risks.
On a final note, just remember that all SUPERHEROES need SUPERFOOD. So do your research and fuel your body with your favourite superfoods.