The Low-Down on Superfoods for Exceptional Health

You've probably heard the word 'superfood' floating around on cooking channels and Instagram foodie accounts. But what exactly is a superfood, and which foods are more 'super' than others?

A superfood is a food rich in nutrients that positively affects your physical health, thus promoting a more active and wholesome lifestyle. Many dieticians, however, are suspicious of the non-medical labels that are given to superfoods such as "minimal calories" and "nutrient-dense". Often these marketing labels drive obsessions around eating healthy foods alone rather than adopting a more balanced lifestyle incorporating all the food groups. Wherever you stand on superfoods, they are important for increasing fruit and vegetable intake, as well as providing healthy alternatives for sugary foods.

Here are some superfoods you probably have in your pantry, their health benefits, and how to incorporate them into your diet!

  1. 1. Kale

    Kale is a leafy vegetable packed with antioxidants and minerals such as potassium, needed for maintaining consistent blood pressure. It is a good source of vitamin C needed to build the immune system, and it assists in lowering cholesterol.

    How to eat kale: Try adding kale to soup, quiches, smoothies, or even as a pesto sauce to be really fancy with your pasta!

  2. 2. Green tea

    Green tea is a special superfood because of the way it is made: While black tea leaves are fermented, green tea leaves are steamed. This enhances the release of antioxidants for optimal gut health! Green tea also repairs liver damage owing to alcohol abuse, restricts the build up of cholesterol in the blood, and can prevent against diseases such as Parkinsons and cancer. 

  3. 3. Avocado

    This creamy dreamy superfood is rich in vitamin E, a vitamin important for optimal eye health and immune system regulation. It is a powerful source of healthy monosaturated fat which has been shown to reduce blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors. It also helps improve insulin sensitivity and reduces inflammation in the immune system. 

    How to eat avocado: Have some avocado on your pizza, toast, pasta, or salad. For heaven in your mouth, eat it with salt and balsamic vinegar!

  4. 4. Chia seeds

    Although they have virtually no taste, these seeds are nutrient-dense and energy-boosting. Chia seeds have a high concentration of plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acids, important for a healthy heart and building up cell walls. It contains up to 37% fibre which promotes digestive health.

    How to eat chia seeds: Chia seeds can be incorporated into many of your favourite foods including cereal, granola bars, yoghurt, and smoothies to pack a punch.

  5. 5. Garlic

    This aromatic superfood is packed with a wealth of health benefits! Garlic is highly effective against cardiovascular disease and cholesterol build-up. It contains vitamin C for a healthy immune system and calcium for promoting strong bones.

    How to eat garlic: Eat garlic on your pita bread, sprinkle it in hummus, or add it to your soup for some powerful flavour combinations!

  6. 6. Cacao

    A lot of people get confused between cacao and cocoa. The cocoa bean is chemically processed and roasted for our guilty pleasure foods: Chocolate and coffee. However, this process often removes the antioxidants needed for protecting your cells against harmful toxins. 

    Raw cacao (pronounced 'cuh-cow') on the other hand is an incredbily high plant-based source of iron, magensium, and calcium. It has also been shown to be a natural mood elevator by containing bliss neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

    How to eat cacao: Combining raw cacao powder with vitamin C foods such as oranges, kiwi fruit, or even a chocolate orange smoothie will really bring your body the most powerful and delicious health benefits!

  7. 7. Goji berries

    These little suckers are vitamin C powerhouses! They are also high in beta-carotene which promotes healthy skin and eyesight. The fibre and ammino acids in goji berries have also found to offer a hypoglycemic effect which can help diabetics.

    How to eat goji berries: Goji berries are a delicious topping for overnight oats, ice cream, your morning granola, or even as a simple salad topper.

  8. 8. Turmeric

    Turmeric is a bright yellow spice often used in curries and health shots. It is rich in anti-inflammatory properties, giving it a reputation as a natural defense against cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Turmeric also lowers the risk of heart disease and alleviating the pain of arthritis.

    How to eat turmeric: Use a pinch of turmeric in scrambled eggs, or enjoy it's peppery flavour with roasted vegetables, tea, or rice.

  9. 9. Ginger

    Ginger has been hailed as the most underrated of the superfoods. Ginger can treat many forms of nausea associated with pregnancy and travelling. It can also improve heart risk factors, aid in digestions, and reduce the pain of menstrual cramps!

    How to eat ginger: Add fresh ginger to your smoothies and juices, or even use dried ginger to spice up any fish recipe.

  10. 10. Sweet potato

    Sweet potatoes are among the most versatile and health vegetables out there. This starchy root vegetable is high in antioxidants and protects the body against chronic disease. It also promotes optimal gut health and supports healthy eyesight!

    How to eat sweet potatoes: Next time you're at Hudsons, opt for the sweet potato fries! Life-changing I tell you.

I might go whip up some overnight oats with chia seeds, sweet potato fries, a ginger and turmeric shot, a cacao and kale smoothie, avocado toast with garlic and green tea, and maybe some goji berries as a snack!