Superfoods: 5 Foods That Pack a Healthy ‘Punch’!

superfood1Some foods have been found to be superior in antioxidants and essential nutrients compared to others. These foods are sometimes referred to as “superfoods”; whole foods that pack a lot of punch for their weight as far as nutrition goes.

Here are ten readily available superfoods that you should try to incorporate into your diet on a daily or weekly basis. Try to eat as many of them organic and unprocessed as possible.

1. Blueberries

blueberriesBlueberries are at the top of the list for antioxidant activity – they rich in compounds that help protect the cells of the body against damage, and have been found to stop the growth of cancer cells.

Furthermore, studies suggest that the dark pigments responsible for the colour of blueberries – anthocyanins – protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and are linked to slowing down and even reversing age-related memory loss.

Blueberries have extremely high levels of resveratrol, a flavonoid that protects the body against inflammation and boosts the immune system.

Sprinkle fresh blueberries onto breakfast cereal or in a fruit salad, or whiz them up in a blender with other berries and yoghurt for a tasty, nutritious smoothie.

2. Free Range Eggs

egg Free-range eggs are a relatively inexpensive, widely available and amazing source of high-quality nutrients, especially high-quality protein and fat. A single egg contains NINE essential amino acids and one of the highest quality proteins available. Proteins are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of body tissues and are also the major components of the immune system and hormones.

Eggs also provide lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients essential for healthy eyes, and choline and vitamin B12 for the brain, nervous- and cardiovascular system.

Make sure that your eggs are as fresh as possible, ALWAYS free-range and preferably also organic. Some healthy ways to enjoy eggs are lightly boiled or poached.

3. Green Leafy Vegetables

green-vegGreen leafy vegetables are readily available but many of us do not eat enough of them. Studies confirm that these vegetables are highly nutritious and populations that eat a diet high in green leafy vegetables have a far lower risk of heart disease and cancer.

Leafy vegetables like spinach and kale have the highest concentrations of easily digestible nutrients and vitamins and minerals to protect and heal the body.

All green leafy vegetables are rich in chlorophyll – the pigment that gives plants their green color. The molecular structure of chlorophyll is very similar to that of human blood and studies show that when it is consumed, the production of hemoglobin in blood is increased. Higher amounts of hemoglobin in the bloodstream means more oxygen-rich blood, the first and most important element that cells need to thrive.

Juicing is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Freshly made juice provides the body with an instant boost of vitamins, minerals and enzymes in an easily digestible form.
Some green leafy vegetables to try are: rocket, spinach, kale, watercress, parsley, lettuce, chicory and wheatgrass.

4. Wild Salmon

salmonWild salmon and other oily fish like mackerel have outstanding nutritional benefits. They contain very high levels of omega-3 fats, which many of us are lacking in our diets. These fats have anti-inflammatory properties, help to protect against numerous diseases like cancer, heart disease and dementia. This omega-3 can also help counteract dryness and stiffness in the body by lubricating the joints, eyes and arteries, and strengthen hair by encouraging natural oil production.

But not all salmon is equal. Farmed salmon – the salmon most commonly available, does not have the same health benefits as wild salmon. Most farmed fish on the market contains dangerously high levels of the toxic metal mercury and other contaminants like antibiotics and pesticides. A 2001 study in the UK revealed that farmed salmon contains up to 10 times the level of PCBs and dioxins (chemical pollutants and waste products from sources including plastics and insecticide residues, which are toxins that cannot be broken down so tend to build up to dangerous levels in the body), compared to wild salmon.

Wild salmon also has three times the amount of omega-3 oils as farmed varieties and higher antioxidant levels.

Always try to choose ocean caught fish like wild Alaskan salmon to limit your intake of these toxins and to receive the full health benefits of this ‘super’ fish.

5. Fermented Foods

cabbageFermented foods like sauerkraut offer huge health benefits. When foods such as cabbage are fermented, their digestibility and vitamin levels are increased. Fermented foods produce lactic acid, which not only preserves the fruits and vegetables, but also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria throughout the intestine.

Sauerkraut is one of the few foods that contains the probiotic bacterium Lactobacilli Plantarum. This lactic acid-producing bacteria helps to balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and improves digestion, keeps pathogens at bay, guards against infectious illnesses and protects against many diseases of the digestive tract.

Many of the store-bought versions of sauerkraut and other fermented foods have often been heat-treated, which destroys the healthful bacteria that are the main reason for eating these foods in the first place. Look for freshly made sauerkraut that is labeled as ‘raw’, or better still, make it yourself at home.

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