The next time when you want to try something new or switch the salad, consider the best superfoods for the body. The cancer fighting broccoli sprouts or brain boosting blueberries are great for health besides its delicious taste.
Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and goji and acai berries, are considered superfoods because of their naturally high antioxidant content. While these berries do have some differences in terms of the amounts and types of nutrients they provide, they do have a few things in common – for example, their vibrant colour can be attributed to high levels of anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants that protect our cells and DNA from damage. Berries are also high in vitamin C, which can help strengthen the immune system and give our skin a youthful glow. They also contain fiber, which is important to maintain a healthy digestive system and to keep you feeling full between meals.
Generally, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries can be found in your local market, supermarket, or fruit and veg shop. Unless you live in areas where these berries are grown, goji berries and acai berries are generally not available fresh – instead, they are often dried or pureed, or freeze-dried and ground into a powder. You should be able to find them in your local health-food shop.
Popeye definitely knew what he was doing! Overall, spinach provides our bodies with similar nutrients to kale, but it does contain more folate, a B vitamin that can help our cells function and divide properly. Spinach, particularly baby spinach, can be quite mild in flavour and may be added to juices and smoothies without significantly changing the taste.
- Barley Grass
Like wheatgrass, this is the leafy part of the barley plant that is cut before the grain is formed. Although its vitamin and mineral content is quite similar to wheatgrass, it is known for its ability to help clear the body of toxins. It also contains chlorophyll, which is the green substance in plants and is believed to work as an ‘internal deodorant’ within the body. Both wheatgrass and barley grass are available in powder form, making them an easy addition to your favourite green juice recipe.
This green leafy vegetable is from the cabbage family and comes in several varieties: leaves can be either green or purple, or curly or smooth. Kale is a very nutrient-dense vegetable and contains high amounts of a number of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and K. Vitamin A is important for maintaining eye health, while vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting. Kale can have quite a distinct ‘green’ flavour. If you have never tried it before, I recommend using smaller amounts to begin with and then increasing amounts as you become more accustomed to the taste.
This grass is the leafy part of the wheat plant that has been cut before the grain is formed. It is considered beneficial as it contains concentrated amounts of a number of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Wheatgrass is often referred to as a ‘blood builder’, as it is believed to increase the production of haemoglobin, the protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen around your body.
Also known as linseeds, flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids and are high in fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol, help you feel fuller for longer and stabilise blood sugar levels. Flaxseeds can be either brown or golden, but as for chia seeds, this makes little difference to their nutritional value.
- Pumpkin Seeds
Also known as pepitas, pumpkin seeds are a tasty way of obtaining protein, B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, iron and zinc. These little beauties contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which can increase the production of hormones needed to help you sleep.
- Chia Seeds
Not only do chia seeds provide an irresistible texture to your juices and smoothies, but they also contain lots of fiber, which is really important for digestive health and increasing feelings of fullness after meals. They contain all nine essential amino acids plus omega-3 (the good fat that is known to improve heart health). They are also jam-packed with a number of vitamins and minerals. Chia seeds can be either black or white, but this makes no difference to their nutritional value.
- Wheat germ
This grain food is the tiny, nutrient-dense centre of the wheat kernel. It may be small, but it is packed full of beneficial qualities! By adding wheatgerm to your diet, you can increase your intake of B vitamins, which are important in helping your body obtain energy from food. Wheatgerm is also high in fibre, which is good for keeping your appetite in check and maintaining a healthy digestive system.
This mix is made from a combination of ground linseeds (flaxseeds), sunflower seeds and almonds, which means that you can obtain the benefits of all three ingredients in one go! LSA is particularly rich in protein, which can help keep sugar cravings at bay by stabilising blood sugar levels. It is also contains a number of minerals, including calcium, which is important for bone and muscle health.
- Sunflower Seeds
These contain vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can help promote healthy skin and hair. These are also rich in protein and heart-healthy fats.
Grown all over the world, this popular grain is full of many vitamins and minerals that are necessary for a healthy functioning body. Oats contain six of the eight B vitamins, which help us convert food into fuel. They also naturally contain beta-glucan, a type of carbohydrate known to improve blood glucose control and cholesterol levels. These super grains can be quite filling due to their high fiber content. Oats are great as a breakfast cereal, porridge, overnight oats or muesli, or added to smoothies and breakfast bowls.
- Quinoa Flakes
This highly nutritious ancient grain is native to South America. Quinoa flakes are made from pressed quinoa, and the benefits are the same as wholegrain versions. Quinoa is completely gluten-free and one of the few plant foods that contains all nine essential amino acids. The flakes can be used in similar ways to rolled oats: in muesli or porridge and in smoothies or smoothie bowls.
The edible grain-like seeds of the buckwheat plant are used in similar ways to oats, rice and quinoa. These seeds contain rutin, which can help maintain normal blood flow and blood clotting; and magnesium, which can promote the relaxation of blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Together, these nutrients may promote a healthy cardiovascular system. While its name might be deceiving, buckwheat does not contain gluten, meaning that it can be used as part of a gluten-free or gluten-sensitive diet.
- Rice Flakes
Similar to quinoa flakes, rice flakes are rice grains that have been steamed, then rolled and dried. Both white and brown rice can be used in this process, but I recommend using wholegrain or brown rice versions as they generally contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals than more refined, white versions. Like regular rice, rice flakes are free from gluten and therefore can be used as another gluten-free, alternative to rolled oats.
This dark green powder is made from blue-green algae. It is sometimes used as a natural multivitamin in vegetarian or vegan diets as it contains all nine essential amino acids and good amounts of iron. Spirulina can have quite a distinct earthy flavour, so it is best suited to your vegetable or green-based juices.
This root vegetable is native to Peru. As well as being jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, it also contains a number of unique alkaloids (natural plant-based chemicals) that may help improve the overall functioning of the body’s hormonal systems. Native practitioners have used maca as a remedy for a number of hormone-related issues, including irregular periods, infertility, fatigue and loss of libido. Maca has an earthy, nutty taste and can be added to smoothies to provide a caramel or malty flavour.
- Raw Cacao
Raw cacao is chocolate in its rawest form. It contains a number of minerals, particularly magnesium, which is important for energy production and relaxation of muscles. It may also help to increase the body’s production of serotonin and dopamine, which are two neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that are known to improve mood and well-being. Cacao can be added to smoothies or shakes that need a chocolatey spin. However, it can have quite a bitter taste, so if you’re not used to it, start with small amounts.
This powder is made from the reddish-brown edible beans that grow on the carob tree. Carob contains a number of minerals as well as a substance called gallic acid, which is known for its antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties. Free from both gluten and caffeine, carob can be added to desserts and smoothies that need a chocolatey flavour, and is a great substitute for the slightly more bitter cocoa or cacao.
Garlic is used as a flavoring agent for many years and also in traditional and alternative medicines. Its curative properties are known over 3000 years ago. Garlic is a pungent tasting herb that offers various health benefits. The presence of allicin makes it powerful to combat common cold, heart ailments, blood pressure and neurodegenerative diseases. It has medicinal uses such as antiviral, antibacterial, antiprotozoal and antifungal properties.
High sulphur content provides antibiotic properties beneficial for digestive system by flushing the toxins out. It strengthens immunity against common cold and prevents heart problems by clearing the blockage in arteries. Garlic heals the skin scars, rejuvenates skin and offers glow to it.