Sunday, 21 March 2010
Some foods have that extra something special. Known as superfoods, they’ve always been around but they’ve now been labelled with the ‘super’ tag to highlight their positive natural health benefits.
* Essential Foods
* Five A Day
What are superfoods?
Superfoods are foods that are especially good for you – they may be rich in nutrients; vitamins, minerals, or powerful plant chemicals that are powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are found naturally in the body and are proven to help reduce damage created by free radicals. . There are many additional foods that also come under the superfoods umbrella because they’re particularly low in calories, help you to keep healthy, give you more energy and help you to look fantastic.
* Oily fish
Oily FishWhile all fish is really good for us, oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel which can be recognised by their darker flesh, are also an excellent source of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 can help keep joints healthy and help to maintain a healthy heart. They are also rich in protein, contain fewer calories than red meat and provide a good source of some B vitamins.
AvocadoAvocadoes provide the perfect balance of fat-that’s the good mono-saturates that may help reduce cholesterol-as well at vitamin E, a natural antioxidant which helps to maintain healthy skin. If that’s not enough, they help keep our immune systems healthy too.
BroccoliOne of the richest sources of antioxidants, broccoli should be the VIP guest at any family meal. Its vitamin C content helps boost the immune system.
BeetrootThere’s more to beetroot than the pickled variety in a ploughman’s lunch. Fresh beetroot is packed full of folic acid as well as being naturally low in fat.
BerriesBerries, like blueberries and cranberries, contain powerful antioxidants that help keep your skin healthy as well as other beneficial antioxidants like vitamin C for a healthy immune system. In fact, blueberries could be said to be the ultimate superfood; so why not liven up your breakfast by adding a handful of these smart little berries to your morning cereal or yogurt?
BeansHigh in fibre, low in calories; beans are great for maintaining the heart and digestive health. Beans such as broad beans and red kidney beans are packed with folic acid.
ChickpeasNot only are chickpeas a great source of protein, fibre, iron and vitamin E, but they also contain folic acid which expectant mums need to help support their baby’s development. Why not try making your own houmous or adding chickpeas to casseroles or salads?
LentilsProvide a good source of both soluble fibre to help decrease cholesterol and insoluble fibre which helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Lentils are also rich in protein and iron and will make a satisfying meal when added to casseroles and curries.
* Olive oil
Olive oilNext time you’re frying or reaching for a salad dressing, why not pick up some olive oil instead? High in fat (but the healthy monounsaturated fat which helps lower cholesterol!) it’s good for maintaining a healthy heart.It also contains the antioxidant vitamin E and essential fatty acids for maintaining healthy skin.
PomegranatePomegranates are a good source of vitamin C, as well as antioxidants for a healthy immune system, and fibre. Not sure how to eat them? Scoop out the seeds and add to curries and salads, or whiz up in a blender for a refreshing juice. The sweet-sour flavour might not be to everyone’s taste, so why not add a dash of apple juice or create your own super juice!
TurkeyNo longer just recognised as the staple ingredient at Christmas dinner, turkey makes a healthy meal all-year round. Affordable, low in fat and calories and a great source of protein and B Vitamins, it should be on your menu every week.
OrangesJuicy and sweet, oranges are packed with vitamin C that helps boost our immune system. In fact one orange contains over 100% of your recommended daily amount – not a bad little package!. What’s more, an orange is perfect to pop into your pocket so you have a nutritious snack on the move, or if you’re in a hurry or can’t get your little ones to eat them, they’re delicious juiced as a breakfast drink – don’t forget to include the pulp for the fibre!
PeppersBright and colourful, peppers add interest and texture to many dishes from stir-fries to salads. Naturally sweet and crunchy, they’re packed full of vitamin C an important antioxidant that helps to boost our immune systems. In fact green peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges per 100g, while red peppers are a rich source of beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body.
PumpkinOffering more than just a Halloween lantern, pumpkin provides vitamin C which boosts the immune system. Don’t throw away the pumpkin seeds either. They’re packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and zinc and are great for adding texture and a nutty flavour to cereals and salads.
TomatoesA Mediterranean superfood, tomatoes form the basis of many dishes – from salads to sauces. They’re not only versatile, but they come in all shapes and sizes. They’re a very good source of vitamin C and Lycopene, which is a great antioxidant and when heated its goodness is more easily absorbed,so add them to sauces and soups!
OatsThe humble oat may be small but it does big things for our health. Oats are packed with protein and beta-glucan soluble fibre that helps lower cholesterol. What’s more they have a low Gi so they help sustain blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer- good news for people watching their weight or with diabetes.
SpinachIf Popeye’s anything to go by, we know that spinach does amazing things. It’s a good source of vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, iron, calcium and beta-carotene. These help to strengthen your immune system, while increasing your levels of folic acid, iron and calcium that help to keep your blood and bones healthy.
* Sweet potato
Sweet potatoNaturally low in fat and full of the antioxidant beta-carotene as well as vitamins C and E which help to keep your skin healthy, these nutritiously packed products also support your immune system. Why not replace them for your usual jacket spud or mash?
SoyaMany vegetarians have been advocates for the humble soya bean for years as they are packed full of protein and make a good alternative to meat. In fact, 25g of soya protein in our diets a day may help reduce our cholesterol, and being rich in antioxidants, boosts our immune systems. They’re really versatile - try adding soya beans to stews and soups or using tofu as a meat substitute. Soya milk also makes a good alternative to cow’s milk in a dairy-free diet.
TeaA good old cup of tea does more than refresh just the tastebuds! It’s full of anti-oxidants which help to protect our body’s immune system.
* Natural yoghurt
Natural yogurtA great source of calcium and other beneficial nutrients, live cultured yogurt also contains live bacteria called probiotics. These can maintain the balance in our digestive system.
Nutrition powerhouses walnuts are filled with fibre and are high in polyunsaturated fat which may help to lower cholesterol.
Watercress is easily overlooked, but did you know it is high in vitamin C, calcium, folic acid and iron? It’s packed with beta-carotene and antioxidants to help maintain healthy skin, eyes and immune systems.
A super combination of nutrients!
Beta-carotene This nutrient is what is called a carotenoid. Beta-carotene is found in dark green, orange and yellow vegetables. The body converts it into vitamin A. Vitamin A is used for growth and healthy skin. Beta-carotene also acts as an antioxidant and helps support a healthy immune system.
Anthocyanin These are pigments that give many fruits their red and blue colouring
* Vitamin E
Vitamin E Vitamin E is an antioxidant which helps maintain healthy skin and supports our immune systems. The richest sources are wheatgerm, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds but you’ll also get some vitamin E from cereals, vegetables and fruit.
FibreDietary fibres are the indigestible portion of plant foods that add bulk to your diet and aid digestion by moving food through our intestines. Fibre’s found in cereals and whole grains as well as fruit and veg. Soluble fibre, that you’d find in the likes of oats and legumes, helps lower cholesterol.
Omega-3 Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids are essential in our diets because these fats cannot be synthesized in the body. This form of polyunsaturated fat helps to keep our hearts healthy. Good sources are oily fish such as salmon and products such as breads, juices, meal bars, margarines and oils that are fortified with Omega-3.
* Folic Acid
Folic acid Folic acid, which you’ll find in dark green leafy vegetables, beans and beef is needed for healthy blood. As well as eating a folic-rich diet, it’s important for expectant mums to top up their intake with a folic acid supplement during pregnancy as this may help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida in their unborn baby.
* Vitamin C