Superfoods – what’s all the fuss?
The term ‘Superfoods’ has been around for a while now. It refers to a variety of foods which contain all or nearly all the vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals your body needs.
There are some everyday foods which are worthy of the title and then there are others which previously could only be found in obscure, independent health food stores.
Thankfully, you can order most superfoods online, or even buy them at your local supermarket, and they are so easy to add into your diet.
Superfoods are a great addition to a healthy diet. They will give you the top up you need for optimal health, help you stay healthy, reduce the effects of ageing and improve your energy levels. They can also fight disease, boost your metabolism and help your body repair.
All of my advice starts with taking care of the inside of your body. Do this right and you will glow on the outside.
Before I continue, I should point out that superfoods do not work in isolation. There is little point in drinking wheatgrass everyday and expecting it to do wonders, if you are then going to be drowning yourself in alcohol, have a diet high in processed foods, or eat little or no fruit and vegetables.
Superfoods work best when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
There are so many superfoods, too many to go into in one article so I will look at some of my favourites that I use everyday; chlorophyll, seaweed, spirulina, wheatgrass, bee pollen and sprouted seeds, and tell you a little about them.
Chlorophyll is the pigment that makes plants green, it is rich in magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium and is a good source of vitamin A, C, E, K.
It’s nearly identical to haemoglobin in the blood and is a phytonutrient that oxygenates and detoxifies the blood.
Here are some other benefits:
- It is rich in enzymes (which help the rejuvenation of cells)
- It is high in amino acids and antioxidants (which neutralise free radicals, so it could help protect you from cancer)
- It helps to detoxify the liver, improves liver function, a healthy liver will filter toxins out of the body.
- It will boost immune system so you can better fight infection.
- It binds to heavy metals, helping remove them form the body and delays ageing.
- It’s anti-inflammatory and speeds up wound healing.
- It promotes a healthy digestion by maintaining a well functioning intestinal flora.
You can find chlorophyll in dark green leafy greens especially in kale, spinach, chard and collards. It’s in sea vegetables, blue-green algae, wheatgrass, asparagus, broccoli, peas and celery, also in fresh herbs like parsley, dill and coriander.
Overcooking destroys chlorophyll so when cooking chlorophyll rich foods ensure you lightly steam them, keeping the green colour keeps the benefits of the chlorophyll.
Seaweed has been used all over the world for thousands of years, especially as part of Asian diets in Japan, Korea and China.
There are thought to be over 10,000 species of seaweed and they have so many benefits. some common types of seaweed are:
- Green algae found in sea lettuce
- Brown algae found in kelp and wake
- Red algae like nori
- Blue green algae found in spirulina and chlorella
Seaweed is rich in magnesium, iodine, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, selenium, omega 3 & 6, fatty acids and vitamins A, K, B9, E.
Seaweed contains lots of amino acids and minerals, more calcium than dairy and more nutrient density than any land vegetable.
The benefits of seaweed include:
- It is high in iodine which helps thyroid health. Your thyroid gland uses it to make thyroid hormones, which helps control growth and repair damaged cells.
- It helps maintain cardiovascular health by stabilising blood pressure.
- It is and antioxidant, is good for digestive problems, helps prevent cancer and has anti-inflammatory properties.
You can use seaweed in curries, soups, miso soup, wrapped sushi or dried and sprinkled on salads.
Spirulina is a type of bacteria that grows in water, and it’s often called blue green algae. It might not seem like an obvious choice of ingredient, but it’s packed full of nutrients and a range of health benefits.
Spirulina is consumed as a tablet or powder and is very dark green in colour. It is the easiest algae to digest and is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.
It is very high in protein, rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3, A, K, beta-carotene, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, amino acids and is high in chlorophyll. It is a powerful antioxidant and supports liver detoxification.
The health benefits include:
- It can balance blood sugar, help with anaemia, obesity, diabetes, liver problems and hypothyroidism.
- It supports kidneys and liver function.
- It is a great addition for those into sports and endurance as it strengthens the muscles and boosts energy. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- It’s good for cardiovascular health as it reduces cholesterol.
- It boosts the immune system.
- It helps remove heavy metals from your body.
You can add it to smoothies, juices and salad dressings.
Wheatgrass is a food made form the Triticum aestivum plant. It’s regarded as a super potent health food with amazing benefits.
It’s usually consumed as a fresh juice, but it also comes in powdered form or frozen. Fresh wheatgrass juice is considered to be a living food.
Wheatgrass is very nutrient dense. It is rich in calcium, zinc, iron, potassium, vitamins A, C, E and amino acids.
It is my favourite superfood, and contains up to 70% of chlorophyll.
The benefits of wheatgrass are:
- It’s antibacterial, antiviral and detoxifying.
- It nourishes the brain and the nervous system.
- It can prevent tooth decay.
- It improves digestion.
- It helps with the removal of drug deposits and heavy metals from the body.
- It’s good for the liver.
- It can prevent your hair form greying.
- It helps to lower blood pressure.
I don’t mean the brussel kind we have at Xmas, I am referring to fresh sprouted shoots.
Sprouts are germinated seeds packed full of nutrition. The most common varieties include grain, bean, or leafy sprouts. The most popular are alfalfa, lentils, mung beans and watercress.
Sprouts are a miracle food and also referred to as a living food because they have the highest concentration of nutrients in their initial phase of growth.
Sprouts offer some of the highest levels of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes. They contain up to 100 times more enzymes and up to 20 times more vitamins and minerals than raw vegetables and fruit.
They are also rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, fibre and protein.
Bee Pollen is another of my favourites. It is made by honey bees as a food for young bees, and is one of the richest source of vitamins in a single food.
Bee Pollen is 40% protein and rich in amino acids. It is richer in protein that any other animal source.
Some benefits are:
- It strengthens your capillaries.
- It is good for fertility as it stimulates ovarian function and supports prostate function.
- It’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal.
- It’s great for the immune system and supports the rebuilding of new blood cells.
- It can aid recovery from chronic illnesses.
Some ways of adding these superfoods into your diet
I use chlorophyll liquid every morning in my smoothie or on its own in water.
I use a superfood powder which combines wheatgrass, spirulina, and chlorella and add it to smoothies.
I sprinkle bee pollen in my porridge, smoothies or onto salads.
I include Sprouts in my salads.
As I mentioned, these superfoods work in combination with a healthy diet. There are so many more common foods that we consider superfoods that you can work into your diet:
- Chia seeds
- Goji berries
- Ginger, garlic, turmeric
- Cacao nibs
- Green tea
- Dark leafy greens
When you introduce these foods into your diet, you will naturally want to cut out the bad stuff.
Smoothies are so easy to make. This is one of my favourites:
- Vegan protein powder
- A handful of kale
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 scoop of superfood powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract
- 1/4 avocado
- Almond milk
- Bee Pollen sprinkled on top
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
I would love to hear what your favourite superfoods are and the benefits you get from them.
I am passionate about working with women who want to take on their health and glow from the inside out – if this is you then please get in touch.