I’ve written about superfoods before, in part because this is a trending topic and in part because I believe in their health benefits. That said, I understand that it can be hard to figure out the scientific fact from the hocus pocus nonsense that floats around the Internet about what you should and shouldn’t eat. Is it really that important to eat something pickled and yellow on a Tuesday as well as three leafy greens on a Saturday? The fanciful and faddy nature of dieting and healthy eating has made many people look at the idea of superfoods through cynical tinted glasses … and rightly so.
It is important that you are well informed about superfoods so you can use them for the benefit of your well being and health. What I like best about superfoods is that they can negate the need for yo-yo dieting, unrealistic weight loss programs and developing a poor relationship with food. Eating is meant to be a pleasure, and cooking is supposed to be fun and creative. By adding more superfoods to your diet, you are free to experiment with your culinary creations and reinvigorate your relationship with food.
The idea of superfoods really isn’t anything new. Remember the cartoon Popeye? Well, thanks to him, we’ve all known that spinach is an exceptional source of iron. It is rich in the leafy green version of omega 3 and aids in reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and bone weakness. The popular cartoon sailor would gulp down a can of the good green stuff to reveal larger muscles and a stronger physique. While this ventured into the realm of hyperbole, there was a strong element of truth in that animation. Spinach is good for your health. It always has been. Only recently has it had the label of ‘superfood’ attached to it. (By the way, I don’t recommend canned spinach — it tastes AWFUL!)
Superfoods are nothing new — it is the aura and ethos surrounding them that is now trending. People are making careers out of being superfood gurus when really all you need to use is your common sense and Google once in a while. Take a look at these foods that you should be adding to your meals to ensure that you are giving your health and wellbeing the attention they deserve.
With a strong digestive system, we are more regular, IBS symptoms decrease, and we can feel less sluggish and more alert. Adding a dollop of natural or Greek yogurt to a handful of berries or fruit every day means you are getting a protein and calcium-rich snack that is a much healthier alternative to the candy, chocolate or processed fiber bar you might be used to.
There are a ridiculous amount of mushrooms that you will come across when you meander down the relevant aisle of your local supermarket. And this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Whether you love shitake, can’t get enough of the oyster or simply adore the flat cap, mushrooms are full of iron, antioxidants and Vitamin D. As this is the vitamin that most humans on the planet struggle to get their daily allowance of, any time you can add a handful of button mushrooms to your dishes is beneficial.
Many varieties of mushroom contain high levels of selenium. A recent study showed that the higher your level of selenium, the lower your chances of contracting bladder cancer. This was especially pronounced for women. Mushrooms are tasty and nutritious. However, if you’re not the biggest fan of their texture, why not try reishi powder as an alternative? Reishi mushroom powder holds all of the natural goodness and health-promoting properties of the mushrooms you cook with, but you can take a simple supplement rather than go through the “trauma” of finding an enoki in your stir-fry.
The king of the healthy nuts, walnuts are a fitness fanatic’s dream. Just seven nuts have more omega 3 than four ounces of salmon. To give your immune system a bit of a helping hand, try to sprinkle some chopped walnuts over a salad for lunch or over your oatmeal for breakfast. There is, of course, nothing wrong with simply munching on nuts for a healthy snack.
If you are a gym bunny and like pumping some iron, you may be used to filling up on chicken, fish, and pasta. It pays to add some walnuts to your diet as they are rich in protein and can be an added string to your muscle building bow. Just be careful to avoid the mold that often grows on walnuts.
Goji and acai berries have had a bit of mixed press in recent years. There is no doubt they add nutritional benefits to any diet, but their elevation to superfood has come with some ridicule and extortionate prices to match. The whole hippyish persona that superfoods often have makes the average Joe feel somewhat sidelined. People often view superfoods as something that only commune dwelling vegans entertain when nothing could be further from the truth.
By adding a variety of berries to your diet, you will be bombarding your body with more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than you can shake a stick at. The phytochemicals and nutrients that blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries contain can help lower your risk of developing cancer and are a delicious sweet snack alternative to the more refined sugar snacks of candy, brittles, and chocolate.
This delicious spice is one of those additions to your diet that can aid in rebalancing your body. Adding cinnamon to your daily eating plan can help regulate your blood sugar levels (which is great for those with diabetes) and contains anti-inflammatory properties, as well. Your immune system will be boosted, and you may recover more quickly from ailments and infections. All of this doesn’t mean that you can have a daily pudding of cinnamon laden apple crumble or apple pie after your evening meal, but it does mean that you could add a cinnamon stick to your curry sauce and pasta ragu bases. I also like adding it to smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt.
Whether you’re a fan of the flageolet bean or an advocate of the good old green bean, beans and legumes are one of nature’s cheapest and most nutritious superfoods. The key benefit of eating beans is that you are putting more soluble fiber into your body. By doing this, any cholesterol that is lingering around inside your body can be absorbed before it’s deposited on to your artery walls. By eating beans two or three times a week, maybe as a meat substitute, you are maintaining a healthy heart and reducing your risk of heart problems in the future. Your blood pressure will remain at a sound level and, if this wasn’t good enough, beans are full of antioxidants.
Add Superfoods to Your Life
You may not be a fan of the term superfood and all of the connotations that this it brings with it, but you cannot deny that some foods are heavily laden with a variety of health benefits. It pays to look at your current diet and make a list of any health issues that you may currently have. Take a look at this list of superfoods and attempt to work them into your meal plan. Before long you will begin to feel the health benefits and continue to be motivated to stick to a well balanced and nutritionally healthy way of eating.