The term superfoods has been a buzz word for some time now, and the trend is still gaining strength. But what exactly are superfoods? Do they do all they promise and how do can we realistically add them to our diets? With today’s busy lifestyle meaning that most of us are starved of time how easy is it for us to add another dietary craze into our day?
Superfoods are far beyond a fad. In reality, superfoods are simply foods that are especially nutrient-rich. These include:
nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews sunflower seeds & pumpkin seeds
Most superfoods are brimming with antioxidants, which are renowned for fighting cancer-causing free radicals as well as helping our skin to stay supple and to gently slow down the ageing process. It’s not just your skin that will thank you for snacking on more super foods. A diet that is rich in super foods has been linked to reduced symptoms of stroke and heart disease too. Each superfood has its own nutritional qualities which is why it is so important to eat a varied diet and to include as many of these foods as possible.
Eating more superfoods doesn’t need to be a chore. Here are some handy tips for including more superfoods in your diet:
Superfood smoothies make the perfect breakfast, and are the ideal way to give you a vitamin and protein fix after a workout as well as a light, nutritious breakfast that can be enjoyed on the move. They also make great dessert or snack replacements when you are craving something sweet but want to stay on track with your health. If you are feeling creative you might like to devote a drawer of your freezer to smoothie making supplies and simply add a handful each of a variety of fruit and vegetables. Berries freeze well as do cubes of melon and pineapple and leafy greens such as spinach and kale.
Berry superfood smoothie
1 handful of blueberries
1 handful of cubed watermelon
1 handful of strawberries, raspberries or blackberries (or a mixture)
1 cup of beetroot juice
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1 cup of almond milk
Whizz up in a mixture. If you are using some frozen ingredients then you can skip the ice, otherwise you may like to include a few ice cubes.
Green superfood smoothie
1 handful of spinach
1 handful of kale
1 avocado (stone removed, roughly cut)
½ a pineapple (cut into chunks)
2 green apples (cored and sliced)
½ shot of wheatgrass juice or a teaspoon of wheatgrass powder
Whizz up in a blender.
Overnight oats make the ideal breakfast, this tasty breakfast is brimming with nutrients and all the prep is done the night before making your morning routine even easier.
Pour the following into a bowl:
1/3 cup of oats
1/3 cup of almond milk
1/3 cup of Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
2 tablespoon of flax seeds
2 tablespoons of roasted hazelnuts
1 cup of your choice of fruit (stewed apples, berries, peach purée)
Mix it all around, cover the bowl and leave to chill in the fridge overnight. The oats will absorb the liquid leaving you with a healthy and delicious simple breakfast.
Oats and flax seeds are both great sources of soluble fibre, helping you to feel full for longer. Flax also helps lower cholesterol and omega-3 fatty acids.
Whether you work at a desk and love to nibble, or find yourself reaching for the biscuit tin after a run or when you’re watching TV it can be really helpful to have a healthy snack to hand. Fill a small bowl with dried goji berries, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews or sunflower seeds and munch on them throughout the day. Alternate your choice of snack to keep things interesting and try to avoid salted or flavoured nuts if possible.
Sunflower seeds are rich in folate (which boosts immunity) as well as Vitamin E which helps with cell repair and is ideal for a glowing complexion. Pumpkin seeds are full of zinc, iron, protein, magnesium and B vitamins as well as tryptophan (an amino acid known to help lower anxiety levels)
Superfood coffee breaks
Studies have shown that a cup of coffee a day can actually have health benefits, so we’re not suggesting that you abandon it altogether. However, if you are looking to inject more superfoods into your diet then opting for green tea more often could be a sensible move. Green tea is brimming with antioxidants and has also been linked to improved brain function and is thought to help with weight loss. It is suggested that we should be consuming 2-3 cups of green tea a day in order to get the recommended amount of polyphenols (the powerful antioxidant found in green tea). Green tea is also found to be more calming and won’t give you the caffeine jitters that you can get from too much coffee.
Try to eat at least one portion of oily fish a week. Salmon is the ideal choice, and wild salmon is even better. Salmon is brimming with nutrients. Rub a salmon fillet with olive oil, season well and add a few lemon slices and a sprig of fresh dill. Wrap your salmon in parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. Try to eat garlic as much as possible, it’s the ideal base for any sauce especially when softened in nutrient-rich extra virgin olive oil.
Try to include leafy greens with the majority of your meals, pak choi, spinach, kale and cabbage are all highly nutritious.
A great way to add nutrients into your meal is by using a wider range of cooking oils try hemp seed oil, avocado oil and coconut oil.
Avocado oil makes a great salad dressing when combined with garlic and herbs. It can also withstand high temperatures so is ideal for adding smooth buttery flavour to sautéed fish.
Hemp oil doesn’t like being cooked so you are better off using it to dress salads, drizzle over pasta or add a nutty flavour to veg. It’s high in omega-3s and 6-s and is known to increase immunity.
Coconut oil adds a light fragrant flavour to foods and is ideal for thai curries, stir fries and more. As it stays solid at room temperature it needs to be heated before it can be used as an oil, but is a great versatile addition to your ktichen cupboard and if you opt for organic virgin coconut oil too you’ll be able to use it as an effective all-over moisturiser too.
Cauliflower and broccoli are delicious steamed and go with everything. Lentils are brimming with nutrients and are ideal with fish and hams. Sweet potatoes are some of the most nutritious vegetables out there and are so versatile. You can roast them (they are particularly delicious when roasted in sesame oil), bake them (simple pierce the skin and bake them in the oven for an hour before slipping off the skin) or even toast them (simple slip 1cm slices of sweet potato into the toaster or under the grill until they go soft then top with avocado for a nutritious lunch option).
Try to include 2-3 superfoods in each evening meal. With a little forethought you could even plan a whole superfoods dinner. Before you know it your whole diet will be full of superfoods. They are all delicious and before you know it you’ll be including them into your life without much thought at all and reaping all the wonderful health benefits.