As the name suggests, superfoods are those that are especially nutrient dense. They are a great way to boost our diet with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients to support health and wellbeing. They hail from some of the most remote and exotic corners of the globe, from the top of the Andes to the depths of the sea. Whilst relatively new to our grocery aisle shelves, most superfoods are steeped in history, having been revered for millennia by traditional cultures for their nutritive properties. Whether you are looking to boost your omega 3 to maintain supple skin or topping up your magnesium after a heavy workout, there is a superfood for you. Here is a run-down of some of our favourites:
Berries are widely considered to be some of the healthiest fruits available due to their generally high antioxidant levels and low sugar content, but not all berries are created equal. Acai is the dark purple Amazonian berry that is super high in the antioxidant compound anthocyandin, with a whopping ORAC value (measure of antioxidant activity) of 161,000 – 15 times that of blueberries! With its mild berry and somewhat chocolatey flavour, it is delicious mixed into yoghurt, added to a smoothie or sprinkled on fruit or muesli. Goji berries are packed with Vitamin C and carotenoids and have been cultivated for over 6,000 years in China, where they are thought to enhance energy and even improve eye sight. These mildly-sweet berries can be added to a trail mix or salad. You could even try brewing a cup of tea with the dried berries.
Hailing from Mexico, chia seeds are the highest known source of plant-based omega 3. They are also high in a special kind of dietary fibre that gives them their amazing gelling properties. Add a tablespoon to sauces and porridge to thicken and add texture. Or mix up a chia pudding with your favourite milk (or mylk) and flavour with spices – a healthy snack for any time of day.
Maca is the humble tuber of a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli. As with all cruciferous vegetables, maca contains sulphurrich glucosinolates, a group of compounds currently under investigation for their cancer inhibiting properties. In its native Peru, maca is thought to promote vitality and fertility and has been the subject of several studies investigating its effect on libido and hormone balancing for reduction of PMS and menopause symptoms. Add a teaspoon to your smoothie for a morning vitality boost!
Super seaweeds are some of the most mineral dense foods on the planet and an important source of iodine, iron, chromium, magnesium and calcium. They are also rich sources of plant-based protein and dietary fibre. Dulse, with its mild umami flavour, is one of our favourites. Simply add a couple of leaves to your stocks, soups and stews. You can also sprinkle the flakes over stir-fries or a boiled egg for a supercharged, protein-packed snack.
A powerhouse of nutrition and energy boosting goodness – no wonder the Incas used cacao beans as currency! High in magnesium, protein and healthy fats, and boasting an ORAC of over 95,000, it is perfect after a workout or in preparation for a busy day. Create chocolatey smoothies and raw treats, add a spoonful to your coffee for a healthy mocha, or throw some cacao nibs in your cookie batter.
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