What is superfood? I am sure you have heard the word so many times and you are wondering, is this a new trend? Well, know that you are not the only that is left confused.
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Scientists believe that the word ‘superfood’ is just a marketing term to get people to eat foods that are healthy. Superfoods are mostly plant-based foods but also include some fish and dairy products. These foods are densely packed with nutrients that provide health benefits. If you want to know the benefits of these superfoods and how to incorporate them into your diet, continue reading.
1. Acai berries
Acai Berries come from the Acai plant grown in South America and in the jungles of the Amazon forest. They are rich in antioxidants and Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E and K and in minerals such as iron, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium. They are known to provide amazing benefits for your skin, hair and overall health.
Benefits of Acai berries
Contribute to better blood circulation
Nourish the skin and give it a healthy glow due to their high antioxidant content
Improve the digestive system as they help to reduce constipation
Slow down the ageing process
According to research studies, Acai berries are known to improve the cognitive function of the brain.
2. Beets or beetroots
Beets are root vegetables that are purple in color and contain an antioxidant, betalain. It is this pigment that gives the beets that rich purple color . Beets are sweet in taste and are good sources of fiber, potassium, vitamins A and C, and some of the vitamin B complex. They are also high in vitamin B9 or folate, a vitamin that prevents neural tube defects in developing babies. Beets can be eaten raw or cooked or drunk as juice. Powdered beets can be used to make smoothies or shakes. Experts recommend drinking a glass of beet juice everyday in order to enjoy the following health benefits:
Benefits of beets
Ability to detoxify the liver and improve blood flow
Boost your endurance and stamina
Improve the function of the liver
Help lower blood pressure
Highly recommend for people who have iron deficiency as it lowers the risk of anemia
Baobab is a tree native of some regions in Africa and bears fruits that are edible.
It is a giant tree that lives for thousands of years and can be 30 meters long. The pulp, the seed and the fruit are available in powdered form and are used in many recipes. Baobab powder is rich in Vitamin C, B6 as well as in antioxidants and minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Benefits of baobab powder
Possesses anti-inflammatory properties to help fight against arthritis
Helps regulate digestion thus fighting against diarrhea and constipation
Helps fight dull and tired skin
Possesses invigorating and energizing properties
Reduces the surge of blood sugar
Blueberries are known to contain the highest amount of antioxidants among other fruits and vegetables. They are low in calories but contain a high amount of vitamin C, K and fiber. Their high level of antioxidants help reduce blood pressure and may also boost metabolism according to scientists. Blueberries can be consumed fresh, frozen, or dried.
Benefits of blueberries
Help reverse signs of aging
Help lower bad cholesterol and to prevent heart diseases
Improve vision and prevent other eye related issues
Rejuvenate skin. Some skincare products nowadays contain blueberries as they have a high content of vitamin C.
Support urinary tract health
5. Cacao powder
Cacao powder is considered as one of the superfoods of all times. Drinking cacao daily contributes to healthy skin. It is high in antioxidants, magnesium, calcium and iron.
Benefits of cacao powder
Assists in regulating heartbeat and blood pressure
Increases good cholesterol levels
Helps boost your mood
Is a natural antidepressant
Eases PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
6. Camu camu powder
Camu camu powder comes from the Camu berry, an edible fruit from the Myrciaria dubia plant grown in the Amazon rainforest. Camu berry has a super high concentration of Vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Consuming camu camu powder contributes to many healthy benefits.
Benefits of Camu camu powder
Boosts your immune system
Supports collagen production in the body which in turn defends skin against aging
Reduces inflammation in the body
Supports healthy blood pressure level
7. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the Salvia hispanica plant which is a member of the mint family grown in Central and South America. They were cultivated by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans as a staple and used as a source of energy. They are rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron and can thus be used in many recipes. Chia seeds have become popular lately especially with people interested in weight loss.
Benefits of chia seeds
Provide a healthy plant-based protein source
Provide a good replacement for those who are lactose-intolerant or for people who do not consume dairy products as they are high in calcium
Regulate blood sugar levels and
Stimulate weight loss
8. Goji Berries
Goji or Goji berry is a fruit from the Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinense plant, a woody perennial plant originating from China – It has been an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. They are high in Vitamin C, A and E. They have a high concentration of polyphenols and are packed with antioxidants.
Goji berries are mostly sold in dried form on the market and can be stored for a long time. You can add them to your smoothies, cereal, oatmeal, yoghurt or mix them with your favorite nuts.
Benefits of Goji berries
Help in maintaining blood sugar level
Protect against age-related eye diseases
Protect against cancer
Promote healthy skin due to their high content in beta-carotene, an ingredient found in skin creams for reducing skin irritation and managing the effects of skin ageing.
Despite the benefits that Goji berries offer, they have been found to interfere with blood pressure and diabetes drugs and interact with some drugs like Warfarin, a drug thinner. It is advised to avoid Goji berries if you are taking these medications.
9. Green tea
Green tea is produced by steeping the unfermented leaves of the tea plant Camellia sinensis. There are different types of green tea but my favorite is Matcha green tea, a type of finely ground powder made from specifically grown and processed tea leaves that are consumed traditionally in South East Asia. The powdered tea leaves can be made into drinks or added to juices and smoothies. Green tea leaves contain an antioxidant, the catechin which is known to prevent cancer diseases and aid in weight loss.
Benefits of Matcha Green tea
Boosts your immune system
Increases energy level
Kale is a leafy green that boasts more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. One cup of cooked Kale contains high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, iron, and fiber. Have you tried Kale chips? I bet you, once you try it you will not go back to your favorite bag of potato chips! It can also be made into powder to be added to your favorite drinks or smoothies.
Benefits of Kale
Possesses anti-inflammatory properties
Boosts metabolism and immune system
Helps keep skin healthy and strong
Helps detox the body by getting rid of the body’s toxins
The active compound known as glucosinolate found in kale is effective in the prevention of cancer cells growth.
Moringa or Moringa oleifera is a tropical plant native to the Himalayan mountains and also found in part of Asia and Africa. It is also called the drumstick tree or the miracle tree.
Both the leaves and pods are consumed and have green beans-like taste but the powder is much more used as it has a longer shelf life and is easily available.
It has high levels of vitamins A, B, C and minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium and calcium as well as zinc. Do you want to have strong and shiny hair? Consuming moringa will help you achieve that.
Benefits of Moringa
Aids in digestion
Boosts heart health
Increases red blood cells
Helps lower blood sugar
Spinach is a leafy green packed with nutrients such as fiber, magnesium and calcium. It is rich in folate, vitamin A, C and K as well iron. Are you anaemic and experience lower levels of iron, then including spinach in your daily diet is sure to increase your iron levels.
Benefits of Spinach
Alkalizes the body
Fights cardiovascular diseases
Aids in digestion and prevents constipation
Contributes to good eye-sight
Helps with weight loss
Spirulina is a blue-green algae and can easily be consumed as a supplement, in a pill or powder form. It has been used by the Aztecs for many years to treat diseases and to boost endurance especially for people who were running marathons. Spirulina has a bitter taste and is best taken with yoghurt, juices or mixed with smoothies. It is rich in Vitamin B1, B2 and B3 (Niacin), copper, iron and magnesium.
Benefits of Spirulina
Contributes to healthy skin, hair and nails
Improves muscle strength and endurance
Improves allergic Rhinitis
Helps control blood sugar
Possesses anti-inflammatory properties
Promotes good gut health
Seaweed is the common name for a species of marine algae and plants that grow in the ocean, rivers and lakes. They vary in color – from red to green to brown to black. They are popular in Asian cuisines where they are used in the preparation of sushis, salads and soups. Seaweed is high in iodine, calcium, magnesium, iron and highly rich in vitamin C as well as fiber and prebiotics (foods that nourish the healthy bacteria and help them thrive in your gastrointestinal tract).
Benefits of Seaweed
Aids in weight loss as it reduces the accumulation of fat
Boosts the immune system
Improves thyroid function
Improves heart health
Protects against free radicals
Wheatgrass is the young grass of the wheat plant, Triticum aestivum that grows in temperate regions in Europe and USA. Farmers usually grow wheatgrass for animal feed. It is considered nowadays as superfoods and can be used in the preparation of foods, juices or as a dietary supplement. It is high in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin C and E as well as calcium, selenium, magnesium and iron. It also contains 70% of chlorophyll (the pigment that gives plants their green color) and contributes to increase oxygen levels in the body. Wheatgrass powder is available in shops and can be used as a replacement for fresh wheatgrass.
Benefits of wheatgrass
Increases red blood cell count
Helps purify the liver and detox the body as it is highly alkaline
Helps reduce cholesterol
Studies have shown that wheatgrass can help kill cancerous cells
I have a weakness for smoothies and I like to blend superfoods in my smoothie recipes to get the benefits of the nutrients. Smoothies are a good replacement for your morning breakfast. Here is one I drink often especially during the winter.
MATCHA AND BLUEBERRIES IMMUNITY BOOST SMOOTHIE RECIPE
- 1 tsp. matcha green tea powder
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 Tbs. grated ginger
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 cup fresh spinach.
- ¾ cup lactose-free milk
- ½ cup yoghurt
- 1 Tbs. honey
In a mixer, add the yoghurt, milk and matcha green tea. Then add the blueberries, grated ginger, lemon juice, honey and top up with the spinach. Add some ice if you like.
Blend until smooth
Serve it right away and enjoy!
Watch how I make this amazing superfood smoothie
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Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice but for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any treatment option.
Now that you know their benefits to your health, you have enough reasons to stock your kitchen with these healthy superfoods. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive tips, advice and amazing recipes!