I have two rock solid beliefs about health. One being that the best way to good health (both physically and mentally) and great skin is through good nutrition. The other is that it must be simple because I am fundamentally lazy and can’t be bothered adding mounds of extra stuff to my diet. So how does a girl go about getting the biggest nutritional bang for her buck without too much effort? The answer it appears is superfoods.
Essentially a snazzy marketing term, superfoods is used to describe food that has very high nutrient or antioxidant levels without any of the nasties like bad fats or chemical additives, and offers a range of health benefits.
Sounds good so far.
Of course the issue is that many of the superfoods don’t have much research to back up the claims that the sellers make, and it’s even more confusing when you start to search out superfoods to add to your diet. It seems to depend greatly on the opinions of each author. One site I stumbled across listed Bananas, tea, whole grain bread and brazil nuts among its top performers, whereas some of the more evangelical healthy living sites listed Wheatgrass, Spirulina, Chia seeds, raw cacao and seaweed as the superstars of nutrition. I personally as I haven’t some across cacao in any supermarkets or even at the farmers market, it’s already looking like hard work, so I went off to do some research and some experimentation, and I’ve put together a basic round up of my favourite superfoods that are easily available and don’t taste like algae (ok, well one of them does but that’s because it IS algae!)
Wild salmon is believed to have a higher concentration of Omega 3s than your average farmed salmon, which is supposed to be good for helping to maintain a healthy weight as well as make skin and hair look fabulous. It’s apparently so impressive that Dr. Nicholas Perricone would have you eating it once a day on his Face lift diet. Interestingly enough, there is also medical research to support the salmon as a superfood theory.
Personally I adore salmon so this one is an easy sell for me!
Pronounced “keen-wa”, this funny little grain is pretty simple to cook and is an easy substitution for rice or pasta (lower in calories than either one) and has the benefit of being unprocessed and high in complete protein. Great vegetarian fare but doesn’t have any actual taste as far as I’m concerned. The theory is that because it’s higher in protein but lower in calories it helps keep you fuller for longer without being heavy on your diet.
Now if you haven’t yet heard about Olive Oil being a super food then you’ve been living in a black hole for at least the last 5 years. There’s plenty of evidence to show that olive oil is beneficial for a whole host of things ranging from helping to lower cholesterol to supporting healthy brain function (although any good fat will do this). There is also the belief that it helps your body burn fat, and keeps your skin luscious. I personally love salads drenched in the stuff and I’ll often pour it straight onto my hair as a mask. Olive oil unfortunately sucks as a cooking oil (turns carcinogenic when it smokes apparently)
Few superfoods have gotten as much attention as this one has recently, with it being touted as a cure all for everything from eczema to high cholesterol. It’s said to be great for helping to lose weight and is also anti bacterial. I like putting this one straight on my hair and skin too, but it also adds a fantastic flavour to stir fry’s. It has a much higher smoking point than olive oil so it’s ideal for cooking (just not with eggs. Trust me on this one!)
In particular blueberries, which are said to have the highest number of antioxidants and nutrients of all the berries, but most of them appear to fall into the “brilliant for you” category. They are also lower in sugar than most fruits, and quite frankly are just delicious.
This is one of the original heavy weights of the superfood world and has a stunning range of goodies in it. A very high concentration of iron, vitamin C, anti oxidants and various other trace minerals. It is said to be the ideal food for your immune system, anti aging, and is among the easiest supplements to absorb. Great, except that it tastes like algae… which it is.
The problem with superfoods is that there is a huge array of products claiming to fit the profile, but when you look at the list more carefully what quickly becomes apparent is that its not necessarily “super” food as much as its just food. By which I mean it hasn’t been processed and is as close to its natural form as is possible. Most fruit and vegetables show up on one list or another, and rightfully so because they DO have extremely beneficial properties. Sure there are some weird sexy sounding things like your acai berries and chia seeds (which are actually quite good) but on the whole I would say it’s easier to just eat food. Real food.
But if you do still want to pack your diet with super foods, here’s a shopping list to get you started. And in the spirit of being lazy, the best news about superfoods is that you can chuck the majority of them in a blender together and make yourself a once a day Super Smoothie. Easy as.
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