Superfoods

Superfood is a rather annoying, newly-fangled term used to describe foods particularly high in nutrients. Although we probably immediately associate things like goji berries and spirulina with the term ‘superfood’, eggs and peanuts qualify just as well.

Just because they’re called superfoods should be no reason for complacency. One man’s superfood is another man’s poison; spirulina, for example, gives me terrible stomach pains, despite its impressive moniker… And some forms of ‘superfood seaweed’ are horribly polluted.

Anyway, here are some of my favourites, ones that I tend to use on a regular basis:

Acai berries

These berries contain very high levels of Omegas 6 and 9 and an impressive concentration of antioxidants called anthrocyanins.

Almonds

Almonds are the most nutritionally-dense nuts; an excellent source of potassium, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron.

Apples

Apples are the richest source of pectin, a soluble fibre that lowers blood pressure and aids intestinal transit. The ellagic acid, which is an antioxidant compound decreases the risk of certain cancers. Best consumed organic, raw and fresh.

Avocado

Rich in monounsaturated fats and potassium, avocados are excellent for heart health. Also rich in oleic acid and vitamin E, an antioxidant, avocados guard against blood clotting and oxidation of fats.

Bananas

Bananas are an antioxidising fruit and contain alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. They are also full of vitamins and minerals, most notably magnesium and potassium. Bananas can help prevent swings in blood sugar levels.

Beetroot

Loaded with antioxidants, beetroot has been found to protect against cancer, heart disease, and inflammation. They are naturally sweet and full of fiber and vitamin C and have traditionally been used as a medicine for liver disorders.

May be eaten raw (in a salad) or cooked. Bear in mind that cooking does reduce the antioxidant content.

Blueberries

Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, these berries are also high in potassium and vitamin C. They are anti-inflammatory and can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also .

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are exceptionally high in selenium which makes them very beneficial for the immune system and also for fighting inflammation.

Broccoli

This nutrient-rich vegetable contains vitamins C and K and folate. It also contains lutein, which is invaluable for eye health. It acts as an antibacterial and antifungal agent and has been linked with a decreased risk of certain prostate and bowel cancers.

Buckwheat

Buckwheat is extremely high in the antioxidant flavonoids rutin and quercetin. Rutin protects the inner lining of blood vessels and against clot formation. Quercetin is a powerful antihistamine.

Butter

Chia seeds

Chickpeas

Chickpeas contain a cocktail of nutrients beneficial to the heart, including saponins, lignans and phytosterols. They are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, which can help lower blood pressure and regulate heart rhythm.

Chocolate

In small doses, high cocoa content dark chocolate has numerous health benefits. Cocoa is rich in polyphenols and eating chocolate releases endorphins in the brain which makes us feel good.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is outstanding; it helps to balance hormones, stabilize blood sugar levels and boost the healing process. It increases the metabolism (and in turn energy levels) to help burn fat more effectively by stimulating the thyroid. Coconut oil is also rich in the immune-boosting lauric acid, a powerful antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal.

Organic virgin coconut oil has many culinary uses (frying, baking, especially good for making curry…) and when you’re done cooking with it, you can rub it on your skin and hair and even brush your teeth with it!

Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are a rich source of Omega 3. They also fall into the category of plant lignans, a type of fibre that binds to estrogen receptors and help break down and remove excess estrogen from the body. This offers protection from certain cancers, such as breast cancer.

Eggs

Eggs consist of complete high-quality protein, essential for the body to repair itself and build muscle tissue. They are a rich source of B vitamins, selenium and choline. They also contain phosphorous, essential for bone health and iodine which is necessary for the thyroid gland. Egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants.

Garlic

Garlic is antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiviral. It can boost immunity and protect against diabetes and cancer.

Green peas

Green peas contain no fewer than eight vitamins and seven minerals. They are also a good source of fibre and protein.

Honey

Honey is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiviral. It also contains antioxidants and is effective at increasing the probiotic bacteria in the gut, which in turn helps strengthen the immune system. May also be used to sooth coughs. Manuka honey is allegedly even more powerful as it is has a high hydrogen peroxide component.

Kale

Kale is a rich source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, lutein, zeaxanthin and calcium. It is thought to aid in the prevention of heart disease, cancer and neurological diseases.

Lemon

Not only are lemons a rich source of vitamin C and potassium, they are also an excellent detoxifier as they stimulate the release of bile.

Lentils

Lentils are particularly high in protein, antioxidants, folic acid, iron and potassium. They are also a rich source of fibre, vitamin B1 and other minerals.

Leeks

Leeks, like all of the alliums, are very high in allicin which can help reduce the risk of blood clots and also have a notable antiviral effect.

Mango

This delicious fruit is a nutritional powerhouse. It is a rich source of vitamins A, C and E, fibre, iron and other minerals, antioxidants and flavonoids. Mangos also contain lutein, which is invaluable for eye health as well as enzymes that aid digestion.

Nuts

Nuts are packed full of protein, calcium, folate, magnesium, selenium, potassium and omegas 3 and 6. They are also rich in antioxidants, in particular vitamin E.

Oats

Oats are a rich source of magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, thiamine and pantothenic acid. They are a soluble fibre, meaning that they release their energy slowly and giving them a low glycemic index.

Olive oil

Olive oil contains some of the most powerful natural polyphenols, with their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-clotting actions, known to man.

Onion

The onion aids the liver to eliminate toxins. It is said to provide protection against colds and flu and has antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also rich in quercetin, a powerful antioxidant.

Papaya

This exotic fruit is a potent antioxidant and excellent cleanser. It is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K and beta-carotene. It also contains enzymes that help digestion.

Peppers

Peppers are packed full of vitamins A and C, two potent antioxidants. They also contain vitamin B6, folic acid and lycopene, which is believed to fight cancer.

Pears

Pears, a rich source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, folic acid, iodine and pectin, stimulate the metabolism and have diuretic and detoxifying effects.

Pineapple

Pineapples contain bromelain, which aids digestion and thins the blood. They are also calcium, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene and vitamin C-rich.

Pumpkin seeds

These are an excellent source of iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium as well as essential fatty acids. They also have an anti-inflammatory action and are beneficial for prostate health.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that is a complete protein source as it contains all nine amino acids. It also supplies calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin B3.

Salmon

An excellent source of protein, salmon and oily fish in general are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, selenium and vitamins A, D and B. This makes them very beneficial for heart health and also inflammatory respiratory infections.

Spinach

This green leafy vegetable is full of minerals: iron, calcium and magnesium as well as supplying folic acid and vitamins B6 and C. It helps regulate blood pressure, has anti-cancer properties, boosts immunity and supports bone health.

7 responses to “Superfoods

  1. Hiya, love your site/blog/ recipes Fiona. Struggling with unbalanced hormones & the wheat, dairy thing. Grrrrrr. Looks like i should be drowning in coconut oil to support my thyroid too! X

  2. Yes please! Any advice would be Very welcome. Going to chance my arm with my g.p and ask for intolerance testing and hormone level check. I am prepared to be laughed out of the surgery. Have been recommended progesterone cream but bit worried as I know it can alter thyroid levels.! The book ‘what your g.p doesn’t tell you about premenopause’ has been an eye opener for sure. Hope all well with you x

  3. sprognik@htmail.co.uk

    Thank you Fiona, my email : sprognik@hotmail.co.uk

  4. Is coconut oil good for everyday cooking? Does it have any strong flavour? I’ve heard that olive oil is not good for cooking.. Any tips?
    Thanks!

    • In my opinion coconut oil is excellent for everyday cooking – be it frying or baking. Extra virgin coconut oil has a fairly marked flavour, but if you really dislike it, or need a more neutral oil, deodorised versions are available. It also has a slightly higher smoking point than olive oil (olive oil: 160°C, coconut oil 170°C). Olive oil, coconut oil and butter are all healthy choices for cooking, as long as you refrain from cooking at very high temperatures. 🙂

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