What are superfoods?
Blueberries, kale, salmon; you’ve heard countless times about the nutritional benefits of these everyday ingredients, commonly labelled “superfoods.” There’s no official scientific definition of a superfood, but it’s generally accepted that superfoods contain high levels of much-needed vitamins and minerals. They can also be a source of antioxidants, substances that shield our bodies from cell damage and help prevent disease. While there are a number of common foods that provide these nutrients, there is also an array of more exotic and less mainstream superfoods that are worth getting to know.
Why should you eat them?
Superfoods pack a powerful punch for boosting your immune system, rejuvenating your health and improving your overall well-being. They can provide your body with necessary vitamins, minerals and fibers, as well as reduce the risk of certain health conditions and diseases. Plus, most are high in proteins that keep you energised all day long.
With such powerful properties, it makes sense that you may want to give up all other foods. However, superfoods are only part of a well-rounded, balanced diet. Eating too much of one type of food limits your body to only certain kinds of nourishment. In general, avoid overindulging in anything – even if it’s a superfood.
Some of our favourite Superfoods:
Goji berries have become a common sight on supermarket shelves, and for good reason: They contain a lot of vitamin C. They originate from Mongolia, these orange-red tangy berries have been used by Chinese herbalists for centuries to treat visual ailments and poor circulation and to help boost the immune system. Scientific research has yet to support such claims, but there’s no denying that goji berries are rich in plant-based antioxidants and compounds. Look for goji berries dried whole, and in powders and drinks.
Like chocolate, cacao powder contains flavonoids, which are known to help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. With fewer than 15 calories per tablespoon and containing almost no fat, cacao provides a strong chocolate flavor without the guilt. And a brilliant benefit for the hearts health and blood circulation.
When buying keep an eye out for the terms Dutch or alkalized cocoa, because this would mean the powder has been processed, and up to 90 percent of the antioxidants are gone. When you’re buying, choose the raw or nonalkalized version, which contains all the phytochemicals and antioxidants. Add these powders to your smoothies, or porridge oats for a chocolaty look and flavour.
Native to Mexico, these nutrient-rich seeds, they have become all the rage among superfood seekers. And it’s no surprise because chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and calcium. For those vegetarians, vegans or those who don’t or can’t eat seafood it is the ultimate plant based omega-3 source. Chia seeds also have a great nutty taste and are a perfect addition to oatmeal, salads, stir fries or even smoothies.
Grown in the Andes, maca is a root vegetable that is picked, dried, and processed into a powder. Although reports of its health benefits are mixed, maca has been used to boost energy and endurance. It possesses an earthy flavour and nutty taste, maca powder can be incorporated into baked items and smoothies or just sprinkled over cereal.
Kefir is an ancient drink that originated in Russia. Similar in taste to yogurt, kefir is made from fermented milk and is slightly sour. Its popularity has soared in recent years because of growing interest in probiotics, which are known to boost the immune system and support good digestive health. Find it in the refrigerated aisle at your local supermarket or health-food store. Nowadays with great flavour variations too :).
Matcha has been part of the Japanese culture for centuries and is one of the most prized beverages in Japan, even to this day. Matcha green tea differs from regular green tea due to the way the leaves are produced. All teas originate from the same plant known as Camellia sinensis, which is a shrub native to China. The shrub produces all types of leaves for tea, including white, green oolong, black, and puerh tea. Depending on the region and how they’re processed, these types of teas differ in their antioxidant content, along with their caffeine content and other nutritional properties.
Matcha is a true powerhouse, with possibly the greatest amount antioxidants concentrated in a food, a great anti-inflammatory, high in chlorophyll for clear skin, a source of increasing metabolism, and Matcha contains amino acids that promote relaxations.