An A to Z of superfoods



From blueberries and asparagus to nuts and whole grains, there are a multitude of anti-oxidant miracle foods out there which are believed to be key to helping fight stress, disease and infection. This week Nikki Edwards looks at these so-called “superfoods” and examines what they can really do for your health and well being.

Goji berries, acai seeds, aloe vera, cacao, freshly squeezed pomegranate, organic almond milk… they have all been tagged as “superfoods” that are supposed to make you live longer.

But guess what?

Superfoods aren’t just limited to exotic fruit and fancy grains.

In fact, you’d be surprised to discover many of the foods already in your diet are considered super.

A food is deemed “super” when it is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids or other beneficial substances.

And yes, superfoods boasting these things can indeed help protect against cancer and heart disease, lower cholesterol, protect the organs from toxins and improve digestive health.

So what should you eat and why?

 

An A-Z of superfoods

A is for Avocado

Packed with healthy fats and nutrients including oleic acid, lutein and vitamin E, they protect your body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases.

B is for Broccoli

Boosts the immune system and is packed full of calcium, iron and folic acid. It also contains quercetin which protects against heart disease.

C is for Coconut

The coconut, in its many shapes and forms (oil, flesh and water) has many superpowers. The flesh is high in fibre and the water is rich in electrolytes.

D is for Dark chocolate

Contains more flavenols and polyphenols than the juices of such superfoods as blueberries, cranberries and acai berries. The antioxidants help reduce heart disease and fight ageing.

E is for Eggs

Contain every amino acid the body needs. A great source of lutein, which protects against macular eye degeneration – the most common cause of blindness in the UK.

F is for Fish

Omega 3 oils found in salmon, tuna, sardines and herrings protect against inflammation and other ageing processes.

 

G is for Garlic

Garlic also contains many antioxidants, is a natural antibiotic and decongestant and lowers cholesterol.

H is for Honey

As a sugar, only a small amount is needed, so take no more than half a teaspoon a day. Manuka is especially good at fighting infection.

I is for Inca berries

Also known as gooseberries, ground cherries or husk cherries they are full of vitamins A, C and iron. They are also high in protein and fibre.

J is for Jalapeno

These peppers are packed with capsaicin, a compound found in spicy peppers that’s credited with speeding up metabolism and suppressing appetite.

K is for Kiwi

This fruit contains a superhuman amount of vitamin C but is also a source of folate which is essential for cell health.

L is for Lentils

All lentils, pulses and grains are high in antioxidants, magnesium, vitamins B and E and are a good source of protein.

M is for Mackerel

An inexpensive oily fish high in essential oils, vitamins and minerals and rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

N is for Nuts

The skin of nuts is full of anti-ageing flavonoids. And all nuts are full of protein, fibre, essential fats and many vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, which improves recall.

O is for Onions

Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral, onions are also full of digestive enzymes that detoxify and boost the immune system. Red onions are the best.

P is for Pumpkin

The orange flesh of these favorites is rich in antioxidants and vitamins including beta-carotene (essential for eye health), fibre, and vitamin K.

 

Q is for Quinoa

A rice-like seed eaten by many top athletes, it is considered a super-food because it contains all eight essential amino acids and is rich in calcium and iron.

R is for Radish

These peppery, crunchy little beauties come in a few varieties and some studies suggest certain compounds in them are able to stop the growth of some cancers.

S is for Spinach

Full of antioxidants, spinach can help deter stroke, cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.

T is for Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain quercetin and the antioxidant lycopene, which is proven to help preserve mental and physical functions in elderly people.

U is for Ugli fruit

Don’t be put off by the name. This citrus fruit is a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine and one fruit contains about 140% percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.

V is for Vegetables

The truth is you can’t really go wrong with vegetables. Regardless of the variety you choose, they’re going to have at least a handful of redeeming qualities, from high levels of vitamins and minerals to a good dose of fibre.

W is for watermelon

Low in sugar and bursting with vitamins A and C as well as the amino acid citrulline.

X is for Xylitol

The safest and best natural zero-calorie sweetener around, it has none of the risk factors associated with artificial sweeteners and also helps to re-mineralise teeth.

Y is for Yams

Also known as sweet potato, the yam is low on the glycemic index meaning it can be consumed without affecting blood sugar levels. Full of fibre, vitamin B6 and potassium.

Z is for Zucchini

Yes, I know in the UK we call it a courgette but you have to allow some artistic licence for the last letter of the alphabet! This green skinned veggie is packed with vitamins and very low in calories.

 

And let me introduce you to another wonder food…

There is another superfood out there which most of you might not have heard of but which is particularly good for allergy sufferers at this time of year.

A plant packed full of protein, it reinforces your immune system, helps you control high blood pressure and cholesterol and helps protect you from cancer.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well meet Spirulina.

Spirulina is a blue-green algae which is also a rich source of natural, plant-based iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C, and an excellent source of plant protein, with up to 70% of its dry weight being protein.

The use of spirulina as a food source dates all the way back to 9th century Chad and it is believed it was used by the Aztecs in 16th century Mexico.

Today, these nutrient-rich algae are being used around the world to help treat illness and studies have found it extremely effective in treating the symptoms of hayfever.

Spirulina comes in capsules, tablets, powders and flakes. The recommended daily dose is typically between three to five grams. You can buy it from a number of health food stores or online at www.deluxenutrition.co.uk

Superfoods in a nutshell

While some specific foods help tackle specific ailments, the truth is that any healthy diet should incorporate a good dose of superfoods. Not only do they help you maintain your weight, fight disease and live longer, they also make your body work to the best of its ability. My advice – eat plenty!

Recipe of the week – The Spirulina Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 200ml mango juice
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp Deluxe Nutrition Spirulina Powder

Method

Add ingredients to a shaker bottle and shake vigorously, pour into a glass and enjoy.

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