Not all superfoods are exotic beans or berries. The term “superfood” is often applied to foods that are high in certain nutrients, making them exceptionally worthwhile to include in our diets. But the truth is, the term “superfood” has no scientific definition – and there’s no definitive list either.
So rather than searching for a miracle food (which often comes with a hefty price tag), we should really be aiming for a “super diet” that is based on eating a wide range of whole foods every day; fruit, vegetables, dairy, nuts, legumes, wholegrains and quality protein such as lean meat, fish and eggs. These foods are naturally nutrient-rich, low in saturated fat, sodium and added sugars.
Among this group, there are still some foods that deserve the spotlight. They are not only higher in antioxidants than some of the much-publicised “superfoods”, but most importantly are readily available and easy to incorporate into everyday meals. Add these real food superstars to help make up a super diet.
Of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli stands out as the most concentrated source of vitamin C and vitamin A – two essential antioxidants that have been linked to a boosted immune system and reduced risk of cataracts and heart disease.
Salmon is on of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. There’s strong evidence that omega-3 reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers cholesterol and reduces inflammation, particularly in those with joint problems. Other oily fish such as sardines, tuna, herring and mackerel are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Aim to eat 150g of oily fish 2-3 times per week.
Beans, lentils and dried peas are an inexpensive and versatile food that are packed full of protein. They are also rich in slow-releasing carbohydrates that are important for peak exercise performance and reduced fatigue. They contain important probiotics that encourage growth and protection of beneficial bacteria in the gut, aiding digestion, improving complexion, boosting immunity and helping to balance the digestive system for optimal internal and external health.
Oats are unique in that they are high in soluble fibre and beta-glucan, which helps reduce cholesterol absorption. Beta-glucan has also been shown to improve blood glucose control and insulin responses after a meal, which ultimately promotes less fat storage. Opt for the rolled varieties rather than “instant”, which have been processed and digest a lot faster.
One of nature’s most powerful elixirs of youth, the antioxidants in blueberries can slow the ageing process by helping to prevent sun damage, reduce the onset of wrinkles, help with balance and coordination and sharpen your mind. The antioxidants in blueberries can improve your learning capacity and slow down the onset of age-related memory loss. They are also extremely low in kilojoules and high in water and fibre to help control blood sugar levels and keep you full without filling you out.
One egg contains high-quality protein and at least 11 essential vitamins and minerals. Eggs are the richest source of the mineral choline, and one of the few food sources of vitamin D – a nutrient many of of us lack, putting ourselves at risk of conditions ranging from brittle bones to cancers.