The latest health craze has most definitely been with ‘superfoods’, but do you know which ones are at the top of the list?.
In this post I wanted to share with you just how ‘super’ certain foods are and what they can do for your health.
Now what you need to understand about some of these so called superfoods (and how they make it into the list) is that they have an ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) which basically means how effective they are on a scale (their antioxidant level) in ensuring they fight off free radicals in our bodies and keep us fit and healthy. These free radicals are toxins that we accumulate daily from food, the air we breath, chemicals in our toiletries (especially makeup may have up to 40 chemicals in one product so !), cleaning sprays, plastic (so make sure to buy BPA free plastic products like water bottles), detergents, car fumes, basically the list is endless with the high level of toxic contaminants entering your body on a daily basis.
In simpler terms think of iron rusting, this is due to the oxygen in the air causing oxidation, or an apple when bitten into starts turning brown after a minute or two? well that’s how it is in your body, you need a high antioxidant level to mop up those free radicals, sort of like your body’s army system to stop all these invaders from entering your body and wreaking havoc. That is also your immune system’s job to try and avoid illnesses and diseases, so it would certainly appreciate it if you could you send it down some antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
What can we do to avoid these toxins?
Well due to an increasingly toxic environment we live in, its almost inevitable to avoid the damage done to our bodies on a daily basis, BUT rest assured there are ways to defend yourself and to avoid as much of those toxins (free radicals) as possible entering your bloodstream. Have you noticed when you or someone else has that natural healthy glow on their face and feel energetic and quite content with themselves? Well thats already a very good sign that you have extremely low toxins inside your body as you have eliminated majority of them with the help of your diet and lifestyle. So the best way to fight them off is to get the big guys (i.e the superfoods) to increase your antioxidant level in your body.
Now I’m not saying these are the only superfoods out there, because there are many more satisfying, delicious and healthy foods that offer immense benefits, but the ones I have provided below have been backed up by research for their anti-ageing and energy boosting properties. Most importantly due to their high antioxidant level they certainly can help boost your immune system, making you less likely to catch a cold/flu and some research would suggest they can even prevent cancer.
As I always like to say prevention is the key!
These are my own top 10 superfoods and their benefits:
1: Spirulina: This is probably the most nutritious food source in the world!! I cant get enough of this stuff and it improves my overall health. It has been shown to have strong protection from cancer and multiple viruses, for anti aging skin nourishing and also for energy and vitality, something we all lack once in a while and need a lift.
2. Wheatgrass: I just cant pick a reason why not to include this in your health regime and although the taste is like grass, the benefits outweigh this small issue and I enjoy a wheatgrass shot from time to time which sets me up for the day. Just like spirulina this contains all the minerals known to man. Packed with a plethora of vitamins: A, B-complex, C, E and K. Wheatgrass is great for fitness enthusiasts, vegans and vegetarians as it is rich in protein, and contains 17 amino acids (building blocks of protein), more 10 times more iron than a steak!(so great for anaemia and fatigue). It also contains up to 70% chlorophyll, which is an important blood builder.
3: Acai: This powerhouse of a fruit has a very high antioxidant content and vitamin C is abundant in this attractive super-fruit, in fact even more than all the common berries. So it is great as an immune booster with anti-ageing and weight loss properties and perfect for that mid-afternoon energy slump. These berries look similar to blueberries but with a more distinctive dark purple hue.
4: Goji Berries: Very popular amongst celebrities such as Madonna and most models as it is known to be the most nutritionally dense fruits on earth. Used in Chinese medicine in the past 6000 years and highly prized by the emperors in the Chinese dynasty as keeping them strong, increasing stamina, boosting fertility, improving memory and increasing overall health/mental well-being. It is all thanks to its vast vitamin and mineral content such as vitamin C, iron, vitamin B2, vitamin A, iron, selenium and other antioxidants.
5. Blueberries: Nutritionists will not go without a handful of blueberries in their day. This berry has been given its superfood title for a very good reason It is loaded with vitamin K which we dont always get enough of in the average diet, fibre (to keep us full) for our digestive health, Vitamin C, manganese and antioxidants called anthocyanins that prevent cell damage and can prevent cancer (if consumed in high levels, although more studies are needed). Medical studies have also shown positive reductions in heart attack risk, diabetes, high blood pressure, improving memory ,improvements in eye health and reduction in colds and flu.
6. Alfalfa sprouts: Alfalfa has a crisp and fresh type of taste which can easily be grown yourself (just buy the seeds from the health shop or gardening store). The sprouts contain a concentrated amount of vitamins such as Vitamin K (very high content), vitamin C, vitamin A and minerals such as calcium, potassium and some smaller amounts of iron and manganese. These small sprouts are is an excellent dietary source of phytoestrogens, which are similar to hormones in that they try to balance them, while also making them beneficial to our health as studies have shown they can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.
7. Kale: Have you seen the obsession with Kale? Beyonce even has a t-shirt to prove she loves the plant-food and why shouldn’t she? Well firstly I want to be extremely honest because I hate the taste if eaten alone or juiced alone. Once I mix it in a juice with an apple or pineapple I cant taste anything bad and I know its doing good to my body. Kale is known to be one of the healthiest vegetables around as it is closer related to cabbage (which is also super healthy but best eaten in a soup). It has a very high vitamin A content (199% per 100g!!), lots of immune boosting vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium and a good energy boosting vitamin B6 content. So its not too bad after all, who wouldn’t want to feel great from time to time and have clear glowing skin? As with any food don’t go overboard with Kale as it may make you a bit bloated or gassy.
8. Maca: Organic Maca is best taken in powder form where you can add this to your smoothies, juices or porridge. Believe it or not this radish type of vegetable has been a prized possession during the Mayan era. Especially important in: keeping fatigue at bay, boosting energy, fertility (for both men and women), to arouse sexual desire, great for osteoporosis, for depression, leukemia, stomach cancer, HIV/AIDS, for depression, and to boost the immune system, improving stamina, athletic performance, boosting mood, balancing the female hormones, benefiting the brain and generally making us feel on top form during the day.Let’s just say a little goes a long way! Important: Although Maca is deemed as safe, it may not be suitable for pregnant women and those on certain prescription tablets or those who have a hormone-sensitive condition might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, so you may may need to check with your doctor to avoid any unpleasant interactions.
9. Garlic: It’s not surprising that garlic has been named a superfood as it is basically nature’s antibiotic. So if you are like me who doesn’t like being prescribed antibiotics for every flu or bad cold, then garlic is your best bet in fighting and preventing many known viruses and colds. Garlic does unfortunately get a bad reputation for causing bad breath, but people if you got a cold just stock up on garlic and no one has to smell your breath. This strong smell is down to the volatile oils present in garlic which are antioxidants called allicin that has been studies and found to protect your immune system and heart health (by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol).It also has some other essential vitamins and minerals: Vitamin C, B6, selenium and manganese. Overall it not only provides you with a boost in health, but its very delicious when used in cooking, it just adds an interesting flavour to food, who doesn’t like a bit of garlic bread?
10. I would class Moringa Oliefera as a healing food for the mind and body. Moringa is a relatively new superfood (originating from India, but also grown in subtropical countries) that has been added to the list by modern scientists and for so many good reasons. The Moringa tree produces leaves with an extensive amount of vitamins and minerals, more so than most of these superfoods listed, which could even combat malnutrition. It has also been named the “miracle tree’ due to its ability to control anxiety and stress related problems, manage diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels, preventing and reducing anaemia in people, detoxifying the liver and body, the oil extracted is used for cosmetic purposes with anti-ageing and healing properties that have shown to repair scar tissue, providing energy throughout the day while keeping you relaxed and focused, used for skin problems such as rashes and acne (antiseptic properties), for cancer prevention, weight control, blood pressure support, the list goes on. In fact scientists found it can prevent 300 diseases known to man, now that is impressive! So what makes it such a miracle tree? Well firstly believe it or not Moringa leaves (either taken in tablet or in powder form) are a powerhouse of nutrients with research finding 90 nutrients to date and more being found. It has more protein (18 of the 20 amino acids required by the body and all 8 of the essential amino acids needed by the body) than any type of meat, egg and dairy product (17 times more calcium than in milk).
Below I have also added two infographics of the tree to get an even better idea of just how many benefits there are to this magical tree. I think that it is a great addition to your diet if you would like to cut down on animal products, are vegetarian or vegan and don’t want to become deficient in protein, and most importantly if you want to be healthy, relaxed and revitalised every day Moringa is the superfood for you.
Baobab Fruit powder is something not to be missed! Are you looking for something to really give your immune system gladiator style strength and your brain a relaxing yet focused energised mind-set? Then this fruit is for you! It has been treasure for centuries in Africa (where it is originally grown) where it grows on a very peculiar looking tall tree (I must say I did laugh a bit when I first saw the Baobab tree and the name doesn’t help) and provides an array of health benefits to the residents. For centuries it was medicinally used to treat gastrointestinal problems, malaria, fevers and vitamin C deficiencies.
It has surprisingly remained largely unknown, but more people are starting to hear about the fruit and have advocated the apparent boost in their immune system, concentration, mood and energy levels all down to Baobab fruit powder. In fact in the average 100g serving of the Baobab fruit there is up to 500 milligrams of vitamin C! Wow hold your horses! To put this into perspective it is 10 times more vitamin C than the average orange! Not only this but studies have shown it assists in weight loss (as it helps to burn calories faster and it can prevent liver damage (detoxifier), which is perfect for those weekends where you want to forget about what you have done to your body from the large alcohol consumption, just press reset with Baobab! It also has a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals: Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Zinc, which all assist in immune function and general well-being. One last thing about this amazing fruit (sorry I get too excited!) is the L-theanine content, which assists in keeping you relaxed, less stressed and focused at school or work, sounds perfect to me!
Well there you have it those were some of my favourite superfoods but there are some others I may not have mentioned so stay in tune for another post on superfoods (just one more I promise!) as there will be one on some relatively new superfoods which I have yet to try and have already tried a few of them.
If any of you have any other suggestions or if you would like to tell me what are your top 3 superfoods, comment below. 🙂