You've probably heard of superfoods. You might not know exactly what they are, or why you should include them in your diet, but you probably do know that they tend to be a) what all the cool peeps are eating (and therefore in just about every bit of media known to man), b) quite expensive, c) sometimes a little tricky to find, d) hard to pronounce...and, also, how exactly does one eat this thing?
Yeah, you know I'm looking at you acai...
But let's get real.
Superfoods don't need to be tricky. They're just natural, whole foods that happen to contain more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants than ordinary foods. And you may be surprised to know that some of the best are already lurking in your kitchen...
These are five of my favourite, real superfoods!
1. C H I A
Chia seeds are known to be filled to the brim with fibre, calcium and omega 3s.
Fibre is brilliant for keeping our digestive system in tip-top condition, and helps to fill us up. Meanwhile, we all know the importance of calcium for healthy bones and teeth, but it's also a crucial part of healthy muscle, nerve and blood function. And omega 3s? These healthy fats (essential fatty acids) are vitally important in maintaining growth, keeping the liver and kidneys healthy, managing mood and stress, combating inflammation, keeping our reproductive system healthy, boosting our immune system...
A few little seeds with all of these superpowers? It's a yes from me. And from you; sprinkle them over your salads, add them to your smoothies, or make a yummy chia pudding.
2. O A T S
Oats are a pretty common breakfast staple, but most have no idea of the superpowers they're packed full of. Oats are whole grains, and help to lower cholesterol - in fact, they're the most effective of all of the grains in lowering cholesterol - as well as balance blood sugar levels. They're also a fantastic source of soluble fibre, helping to clean the intestines and prevent constipation while promoting overall digestive health, as well as protein, vitamin B, and magnesium.
As long as you're not gluten or grain intolerant, try and get some organic oats into your belly as regularly as possible. I love a nice, warm bowl of oats in the morning, or a berry smoothie with a cupful blended in - both breakfasts keep me full and energised for the entire morning. And feeling super, obvs.
3. C A C A O
I'm about to make your day: chocolate is a superfood. Or at least the raw, unrefined version. Cacao is the plant from which cocoa, and chocolate, originate. Cacao contains four times as many antioxidants as dark chocolate, and helps to boost serotonin and cardiovascular health. It also helps to balance hormones, prevent premature ageing, lower blood pressure, and boost digestion.
Cacao makes anything taste chocolatey, which is never a bad thing (#amiright?). Add it to your smoothies, treat yourself to a raw chocolate (cacao) bar, make a healthy hot chocolate, chow down on some cacao nibs. Heck, why not sprinkle cacao nibs or powder over your oats or into your chia puddings for a super superfood mix.
4. B R O C C O L I
Ah, the humble and unassuming broccoli. Poor thing. Most don't think there's anything super about this vegetable, but it's actually hard to argue with its superpowers. Its phenolic compounds - which remain stable even when cooked - means broccoli is full of antioxidants, making it a superhero when it comes to promoting immune health and repelling any baddies. Broccoli is also full of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium and magnesium, helping to improve digestion and bone health while fighting depression. The Indole-3-Carbinol found in broccoli and the rest of the brassica vegetable family helps to regulate oestrogen levels, therefore regulating hormone health in women, and studies also show that people who eat more broccoli are less likely to develop cancers.
...I feel we could go on forever here. But with broccoli being the cheapest, most easy-to-eat superfood, why bother? Go eat some. Right now!
5. B L U E B E R R I E S
Blueberries are, conveniently, one of my favourite fruits. These little guys are packed full of fibre - in fact, you'll find 4g in every cupful - as well as manganese for boosting energy, and vitamin K for bone health. Blueberries are also right up there in terms of antioxidants, outranking a bevy of other fruits, vegetables and spices. A diet including lots of beautiful blueberries has been linked to reduced instances of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Blueberries can be added to smoothies, salads, breakfasts, baked goods and more. But be careful and opt for organic where possible - many berries are prepped and picked with many chemical pesticides involved.
So, there you have it. My favourite superfoods.
Should you eat a diet of only superfoods? Nope. But definitely go ahead and add some superfoods to your whole, real food diet.
While superfoods may contain higher concentrations of the good stuff, a balanced diet is always key. We're talking more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and 'good' (aka complex) carbohydrates - or what I like to just call "real food" - superfoods or not, and less (or ideally none) of the processed - "not real" - stuff.
References: Body & Soul, Dr Joanna, Daily Superfood Love, Huffington Post.