We hear so much in the media about the latest superfoods and how we should be adding them into our diets, it’s interesting to hear that the term ‘superfood’ is not commonly used by scientists and nutritionists. In fact Cancer Research UK say ‘the term ‘superfood’ is only a marketing tool with little scientific basis’. However, we can agree that the foods that could be defined as ‘superfoods’ are nutrient rich and promote good health and well-being, containing high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients. So it’s fair to say if we want to ensure good health and live a healthy lifestyle, then adding these superfoods to our diet as well as taking adequate levels of exercise will help. If a healthy lifestyle is unfamiliar territory to you then here are some of the most popular ‘superfoods’ that are talked about as well as some diet, health and fitness tips to get you started.
Blueberries are one of the most popular superfoods, containing vitamins C, K, E, A, manganese, copper and anthocyanin. Valued for the highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit, there are some nutritionists that believe if you are going to change one thing in your diet it should be to add blueberries. Being loaded with antioxidants they can support the body to fight free radicals vital in disease prevention such as heart disease and cancer. Studies have also shown that blueberries can help slow down mental aging and stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
Kale belongs to the cabbage family and is available in a variety of colours. Loaded with phytonutrients and vitamins A, B complex and C it is a powerful antioxidant, rich in beta carotene, copper, calcium, iron and manganese. High in fibre, kale can support weight loss and its anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent heart disease, arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. Kale also has a very high ORAC rating of 1,770 (one of the highest of all vegetables) indicating a high antioxidant capacity. ORAC, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a measure antioxidant capacity in food.
Salmon is a nutrient dense, oily fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, selenium and vitamin B12 is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Eating oily fish is not only good source of protein but it can help reduce inflammation in your joints. It also may reduce the risk of heart disease and could lower your risk of many cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and autoimmune diseases such as MS and RA.
Diet is Essential but so is Exercise
Don’t forget that to enhance your new healthy lifestyle you need to add regular exercise to your itinerary. To ensure you take part on a regular basis and don’t give up at the first hurdle, choose something you know you will enjoy, whether that’s cycling in the open air or joining an exercise or dance class with a friend. Perhaps working out at a gym is something that might appeal but if you need motivation then you may need to consider hiring a trainer to help get you started. Your local gym might be able to recommend someone or you could Google personal trainer St Albans to find one in your local area. They will be able to work out the perfect routine to help you reach your goals and will motive you when you feel like going home to sit on the sofa!
New Kids on the Block
There are some other hot foods that have recently joined the ‘superfoods’ scene that have some amazing properties:
Native to Tibet and Mongolia, Goji berries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and as a result are great for the immune system. They have become more common and are now found on the supermarket shelves. Great to sprinkle on salads or to add into smoothies for an extra nutritional boost.
Chai seeds have been fairly recently launched onto the supermarket shelves and into our lives by young, healthy food bloggers and cooks. These tiny nutrient packed seeds are native to Mexico. Rich in calcium and fibre they are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, perfect if you don’t eat fish. Their nutty flavour and great crunch means they are a delicious addition to any meal as well as smoothies and cookies.
One of the hottest superfoods around, Maca grows as a root vegetable in the Andes. As the root acts as a store for nutrients, Maca powder is a powerful source of thiamine, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, calcium and iron which help boost energy and endurance as well as help reduce tiredness and fatigue. With a rich, earthy flavour, maca powder can be added to drinks, smoothies and is perfect when used in baking.