“Superfood” is a popular term used to indicate certain food stuffs which are of particular health benefit due to their concentrations of vitamins, dietary minerals and antioxidants. Here is a list of some of the more common superfoods with a brief description of their benefits:
Beans are high in fibre, high in protein and complex carbohydrates, which give them a low glycemic index (GI), and iron. They are helpful in weight loss as they contain the key nutrients for a balanced diet but are low in fat. Many beans including the small red bean, red kidney bean and pinto bean, are also extremely rich in antioxidants.
Nuts are, like beans, a great source of essential minerals. They are a source of protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre and important vitamins and minerals such as vitamins E and B, potassium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorous and copper. Studies have additionally shown that nuts can reduce the risk of developing heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Nuts are also low in cholesterol and sodium (unsalted nuts), and have a low GI. For the best benefits, nuts should be eaten raw.
Seeds have similar nutritional benefits to beans and nuts, although the category is wider and more varied. Whole grains are high in complex carbohydrates and are generally considered to be beneficial to maintain a healthy heart. Chia seeds, flaxseeds and linseeds are rich in omega-3, which is good for the brain. Sesame seeds are high in calcium and sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away! Apples are one of the richest sources of natural antioxidants, most notably the Red Delicious, Granny Smith and Gala apples. It’s worth noting however that apples are acidic and so they are not very good for the teeth as acid damages tooth enamel.
Cocoa and Chocolate
By now, it is well established that eating some high cocoa chocolate is a healthy habit. Cocoa contains antioxidant flavonoids and can help prevent and combat heart disease and cancer. It has also been shown to help lower cholesterol. However, it should be noted that chocolate has a very high fat content. To gain maximum benefit from chocolate, high cocoa content chocolate should be sought and only eaten in small quantities.
Garlic is a powerful antioxidant. It can also help boost the immune system, help maintain a healthy heart and even help in the fight against cancer. Most pharmacies and health food stores now sell deodorised garlic extract pills but raw garlic is beneficial as well, though may leave you with fewer friends.
While green tea is now being marketed for its beneficial health properties, black teas as well as white teas are both as beneficial. All teas contain antioxidants, but are also potentially beneficial for a wide variety of conditions from diabetes and heart disease to anti-venom and antidepressant properties. It should be noted, however, that adding milk to tea neutralises its benefits; however, adding citrus to tea may increase its benefits.