The foods listed below are considered 'Super Foods' due to the numerous health benefits one can obtain by eating them on a regular basis. Please read the list, share with friends and make sure some, if not all of these foods are included on your next grocery list:
At number one - we have the undisputed heavy weight champion of the super food world. This green destroyer of high cholesterol and provider of natural detoxification, possesses the most varied amounts of vitamins, minerals and nutrients in the vegetable kingdom!
Broccoli's fibre components easily bind with bile acids in the digestive tract allowing for a smooth secretion of bile which in turn lowers cholesterol.
Broccoli provides a rich source of a flavonoid called kaempferol, which studies have shown lessens the impact of allergens within our bodies. This also explains the unique anti-inflammatory super powers of Broccoli.
The detox prowess of Broccoli is due to the 3 glucosinolate phytonutrients; gluconasturtiian, glucoraphanin and glucobrassicin. These 3 friends work in unison in the activation, neutralisation, and elimination of unwanted contaminants that make their way into the body.
The best way to enjoy Broccoli's full effect is to steam it, boiling tends to result in overcooking which reduces the potency of its power!
150 grams of Broccoli contains the following:
Vitamin K 245%
Vitamin C 135%
Pantothenic acid 19%
Vitamin B6 18%
Vitamin E 15%
Vitamin B2 15%
Vitamin A 13%
Vitamin B 18%
Omega-3 fats 8%
Vitamin B 35%
2. Chia Seeds
This super food of the ancient Mayan and Aztec people is loaded with Fibre, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Proteins and Minerals. The word 'Chia' comes from the Mayan language and means strength - which is perfectly fitting.
The plant grows natively in South America, however due to their amazing health benefits and being relatively easy to grow - you can now find them in most super markets! The seeds are slightly smaller than strawberry seeds, can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a subtle nutty flavour. Try sprinkling them in cereals, porridge, mixing with couscous or as part of your cake mix for baking.
1 Ounce of Chia seeds provides the following goodness:
- Fibre: 11 grams.
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s)
- Calcium: 18% of RDA
- Manganese: 30% of RDA
- Magnesium: 30% of RDA
- Phosphorus: 27% of RDA
**above figures courtesy of authoritynutrition.com
Considered the King of the leafy green vegetables; Kale has medicinal power and all round health benefits associated with it. Kale is a close cousin of Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts - it's no wonder that it's one of the most nutrient dense plant foods around! Kale comes in several varieties that range from green to purple, the most common being curly Kale as pictured. You can buy this super food fairly cheaply at any super market. It can be eaten raw, steamed or boiled. I recommend steaming so as not to lose those wondrous nutrients.
King Kale provides it's believers with 2 cancer fighting substances called sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Kale is High in Lutein and Zeaxanthin, powerful nutrients that protect the eyes! Kale helps lower cholesterol levels, which leads to a reduced chance of heart disease over time. Kale provides 7 times the amount of Vitamin K1 which helps prevent osteoporosis. An excellent source of Vitamin C, Kale also contains two powerful anti-oxidants - Quercetin and Kaempferol; these two goodies have powerful cardio-protective properties, they lower blood pressure, they are a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressant and have anti-cancer effects!!
A single cup of raw kale (roughly 2.4 ounces) provide:
- Vitamin A: 206% of RDA
- Vitamin K: 684% of RDA
- Vitamin C: 134% of RDA
- Vitamin B6: 9% of RDA
- Manganese: 26% of RDA
- Calcium: 9% of RDA
- Copper: 10% of RDA
- Potassium: 9% of RDA
- Magnesium: 6% of RDA
Then it contains 3% or more of the RDA for Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Iron and Phosphorus.
**above figures courtesy of authoritynutrition.com
4. Green Tea
Considered one of the healthiest beverages around the world, Green Tea has been enjoyed by the Chinese and Japanese for hundreds of years! Green Tea is loaded with anti-oxidants and nutrients that; improve brain functions, lower risk of cancer and increase fat loss to name a few.
Though Green Tea does contain Caffeine (not as much as coffee); the Caffeine blocks a neurotransmitter called Adenosine, this leads to an increased firing of neurons and neurotransmitters like dopamine and nor-epinephrine, it does more than keep you awake! Green Tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine which has anti-anxiety effects, increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain. The combination of Caffeine and L-theanine give your brain a healthy boost. The lower Caffeine levels mean you don't get the jitters, instead you get a mellow boost.
Benefits of drinking a cup of Green Tea daily:
Antioxidants; that ower Your risk of various types of cancer such as Colorectal, Prostate and Breast cancer.
Increased Fat burning; a 17% increase in fat burning leads to decreased heart disease risk.
Increased Brain Functions; Lowered risk of Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease.
Anti-Bacterial; Kills bacteria which lowers risk of gum infections
Diabetes; Increases sensitivity to Insulin which can lower risk of developing type 2 Diabetes
We are all familiar with Pop-eye the sailor man who helped popularise Spinach to us as children; "I'm strong to the finish cause I eat my Spinach!". He definitely had the right idea, because spinach is packed with goodness and low calories!
Not only is Spinach healthy and delicious, it is extremely versatile in that it can be enjoyed in a variety of ways both cooked and raw! Raw Spinach provides the greatest health benefits, and if you must cook it - please do so mildly.
Spinach is a natural source of chlorophyll which blocks carcinogenic effects of of heterocyclic amines that are produced as a result of grilling foods at high temperatures. Because of its high levels of potassium (which negates sodium levels within the body), Spinach helps lower blood pressure. Spinach is high in Fibre and Vitamin K, this promotes a healthy digestive tract and keeps your bowel movements regular. Spinach is a good source of Vitamin A; which is necessary for sebum production to keep hair and skin moisturised
One cup of raw spinach contains 27 calories as well as the following:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Most of the calories in spinach come from protein. Spinach is highly recommended to those who suffer from bowel diseases such as IBS and Crohns disease.
This root vegetable boasts a combination of slow release sugars, antioxidants and anti-cancer effects to name a few.
Beetroot contains Folic Acid which aids in the production of red blood cells, lowers risk of colorectal cancer, breaks down triglycerides (linked to type 2 Diabetes), cuts the risk of Alzheimers in half due to improved memory function, and is a natural anti-depressant!
Beetroot contains a good source of Choline; a very important nutrient that helps regulate sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory functions. Not forgetting it's high in fibre, it is a detoxer and has natural anti-inflammatory properties... This food 'beets' most root vegetables hands down in overall goodness for body and mind!
Beetroot can be eaten raw in salads or on its own, and can be mildly cooked into soups or other foods.
- One cup of raw beets contains:
- 58 calories
- 13 grams of carbohydrate
- 9 grams of sugar
- 4 grams of fibre
- 2 grams of protein
- 1% of daily vitamin A
- 2% of calcium
- 11% of vitamin C
- 6% of iron.
Beetroot is a rich source of folate, manganese thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, choline, betaine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium.
***above figures sourced from medicalnewstoday.com
Hard to imagine I hated Beetroots as a child... Cause I now Love it!
"Beans, Beans the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot" Bart Simpson
Jokes aside, Beans come in a wide variety, most of which are protein rich, release their energy slowly while lowering Cholesterol, prevent Heart disease and decrease a variety of Cancers. As there are such wide varieties of beans and the benefits vary - I will give an overview of the more noted benefits, aside from flatulence - which is actually not a side effect of eating beans, despite popular belief.
The below information is courtesy of www.foods-healing-power.com:
- "Lower cholesterol levels
- Improve diabetics' blood glucose control
- Reduce risk of many cancers
- Lower blood pressure
- Regulate functions of the colon
- Prevent and cure constipation
- Prevent piles and other bowel problems"
A few years ago I opted to try a slow carb diet that involved eating a variety of beans and I found that my flatulence decreased while on the diet. So don't shy away from this super food. But do your research on the specific beans you decide to eat as some varieties can cause allergic reactions in those sensitive to them; such as migraines and increased blood pressure.
This is one of the healthiest flowers in the world and provides you with an abundance of protein, vitamins, anti-oxidants, detoxification, anti-inflammatory, digestive support, anti-cancer, improves cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular functions.
The active compound sulforaphane has been proven to kill Cancer stem cells, slowing the growth of tumours. Research has shown that when you combine Cauliflower with Tumeric which contains Curcumin (another active anti-cancer compound); this may prevent and help treat prostate cancer! Sulforaphane has also been found to improve blood pressure and kidney function.
Like Beetroot, Cauliflower contains a source of Choline which improves brain functions - I guess it's no mistake that Cauliflower has the appearance of a brain!
Cauliflower contains the following:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K
- Pantothenic acid
Garlic is one of my favourite ingredients when cooking or when down with a cold. As a young boy my mother would use it in every meal, if either of us got sick - this would be her first choice every time. The ancient Greek doctors would prescribe garlic to treat a number of medical conditions.
Garlic is part of the Onion family and contains the powerful compound Allicin, which is known to reduce atherosclerosis, decrease blood pressure, have anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory effects and work as an anti-oxidant to some degree. Allicin is also responsible for the wonderful aroma produced by freshly cut or crushed Garlic.
A 1 ounce serving of garlic contains:
- Manganese: 23% of RDA
- Vitamin B6: 17% of RDA
- Vitamin C: 15% of RDA
- Selenium: 6% of RDA
- Fiber: 1 gram.
It also contains good amounts of Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron and Vitamin B1. Garlic contains trace amounts of other nutrients too - it has a little bit of everything we need to remain healthy.
**Above figures sourced from authoritynutrition.com
10. Goji Berries
Goji Berries have been used since ancient times in China to treat a variety of ailments from Diabetes, high blood pressure, fatigue, fever and eye problems to name a few. Native to the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet and Mongolia, Goji Berries are now grown all over the world due to their health benefits.
These super berries have a higher concentration of protein than any other fruit, as well as containing all known essential amino acids. They are high in vitamin C and contain over 20 trace minerals. These small berries that are often enjoyed dried or added to juice, contain more carotenoids than any other food, and are particularly high in fibre. This small yet powerful berry contains up to 14 times more Iron than Spinach, as well as harbouring calcium and Zinc just to give you that extra boost!
Goji Berries contain anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties and polysaccharides help boost the immune system. The ancients seemed to know a lot more about the health benefits of plant food than we did just a few years ago!
According to Gojijuices.net, a 1 ounce serving of these slightly sweet, Herby berries contains the following:
- Calories: 95 (0 g from Fat)
- Dietary Fibre: 4 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Sodium: 75 mg
- Sugars (natural): 12 g
- Carbohydrates: 24 g
- Vitamin A: (140% of DRI)
- Vitamin C: (20% of DRI)
- Calcium: (4% of DRI)
- Iron: (10% of DRI)
Micronutrients and phytochemicals (according to wikipedia)
- 11 essential and 22 trace dietary minerals
- 18 amino acids
- 6 vitamins
- 8 polysaccharides and 6 monosaccharides
- 5 unsaturated fatty acids, including the essential fatty acids, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid
- beta-sitosterol and other phytosterols
- 5 carotenoids, including beta-carotene and zeaxanthin (below), lutein, lycopene and cryptoxanthin, a xanthophyll
- numerous phenolic pigments (phenols) associated with antioxidant properties
That wraps up our 10 Super Foods. Remember these are not the only available super foods - many others from the same or different families can provide you with the same or better health benefits. As with anything that is 'good for you', over-indulgence often results in the opposite effect. Eating a balanced diet in moderation, combined with a good exercise plan is the key to keeping your body strong and healthy.
Peace, Love and Health to you