Superfoods might sound like the latest fad, but there's actually a significant amount of scientific backing behind them which suggests that each and every one of us should add them to our diet if we want to become the true definition of health. Some people will supplement their diet with sports nutrition products and this works from a training perspective, but when it comes to everyday health few foods have been discovered which are as beneficial as superfoods.
Unsurprisingly, there's something of a debate about what constitutes a superfood, and how many there really are. We've gone for twelve for this guide and if you are still keen to stick with your healthy New Year's resolutions, read on to find just which superfoods can help you on your way.
This leafy green outpunches most others in terms of the nutrition that it provides. Its green or purple leaves offer more antioxidants than the majority of other vegetables and with these helping to either prevent or at least delay some types of cell damage, it’s definitely worth adding to your diet.
Baked Kale Chips Recipe
Tear up the kale into 3 to 4 inch pieces and put them on a baking tray. Drizzle olive oil over and place in the oven preheated to 300 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or until they look crispy enough to eat. Enjoy them as you would a packet of crisps... without the guilt.
Don’t dismiss seeds just because of their size, in fact pound for pound they are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. For maximum health benefits flaxseeds and chia seeds are a great option. Flaxseeds are primarily known to have two main benefits, the first being its abundance of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have been shown to increase your heart’s health. The second benefit of these seeds is that they can contain over 100 times more lignans than any other plant food. For those of you unfamiliar with lignans, they are phytonutrients which are high in antioxidants, and have shown to slow down certain breast cancers.
After all the benefits of flaxseeds you may be asking ‘why do I need to eat any other seed?’. You’ll soon change your mind after you’ve heard all about chia seeds. It has been documented that they’re the richest source of plant based omega-3 fatty acids that are available on the shelves. It doesn’t stop there either as chia seeds are packed full of antioxidants, soluble and insoluble fibre. One of the most amazing things about these little gems is that they absorb more than five times their weight, which means that you will feel fuller quicker. Seeds are a great option to sprinkle over dishes for extra crunch and flavour. Add them to your salads, smoothies, soups and anything else that needs livening up!
All of you that have a nut allergy look away now! It may not come as a surprise that nuts have been included on this list, although we have decided to be a little more specific than the nuts that you get from the local pub. For their nutritional goodness, our top choices are almonds and cashew nuts. The almond, our first favourite, is the densest nut that you can find, meaning that ounce for ounce they offer the highest concentration of nutrients. Almonds are also a great source of potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium.
The good news for nut lovers doesn’t stop with almonds, as cashews have one of the lowest fat contents compared to other nuts, with most of their fatty acids being monounsaturated, heart healthy fats.
Almond Butter Recipe
Start off by placing around 300g of almonds in the oven for 10 minutes at 170C and once they have roasted take them out and allow them to cool. When they’ve cooled, put them in the food processor and mix for 10-12 minutes, occasionally stopping to scrape all the sides down. Once they have been blended into a butter like consistency drizzle over some honey, ready for spreading on your toast.
Many people tend to avoid avocado because there’s a common misconception that they’re fattening. This however is only partly true, as although they do contain fats, the bulk of these are healthy monounsaturated fats, also known as the ‘good fats’. Monounsaturated fats have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, restricting the build-up of fibrous plaques in the arteries that lead to blockages. This creamy superfood also contains an abundance of nutrients including oleic acid, vitamin E and folate to keep you fighting fit.
Chunky Guacamole Recipe
Use a sharp knife to cut the avocado into two pieces, then using a spoon, scoop each half out. Afterwards chop up a tomato and a red onion, then tip all the ingredients into a bowl with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Finally squeeze the juice of a lime into the bowl, whisk everything together, serve and enjoy.
Superfood favourites, the first berries to add to your diet are blueberries. These small nutritional bombs are filled with vitamin C and fibre, and have been shown to contain cancer fighting qualities and help to improve memory. Strawberries are the next inclusion on the list mainly because just a handful of them will provide you will your daily dose of vitamin C. They’ve also been shown to help with repairing the body’s tissues and boost immunity. Last but by no means the least are cranberries. These tangy berries can help reduce the risk of heart disease, deter the growth of cancer cells and even stop ulcers from forming.
Think your normal yogurt, but creamier and thicker, packed full of probiotics and protein. With Greek Yogurt, it doesn’t stop at these two with the health benefits. It’s also known for its high potassium levels which can help balance out the sodium levels in your body. There is a generous amount of iodine in Greek yogurt as well, which is important for good thyroid function and a healthy metabolism.
Greek Yogurt & Berry Breakfast
This one is a real favourite in the office as it is really quick to make and fills you up until dinner, holding off any temptation to snack in between meals. Add your berries to your breakfast bowl, pour over your yogurt and you’re done.
Green tea has had researchers raving for years over its health benefits; after you have seen what it can do for you we’re sure you’ll do the same. Two of green tea’s biggest benefits are that it is rich in Epigallocatechin gallate and catechins, which are antioxidants that have been shown to prevent cell damage. It has also been shown to prevent heart related issues, lower the bad, LDL, cholesterol and improve blood flow. With all these positives why not swap your daily dose of tea or coffee for some green tea?
This little cruciferous vegetable is bursting with both vitamins and minerals, and also packed with disease fighting compounds that make them hard to leave out of your diet. The two main health benefits of eating broccoli are its fibre content and extremely high levels of vitamin C, with a 100 gram serving giving you more than 150% of your recommended daily amount. Whether you boil it, steam it or eat it raw there are different benefits associated with each cooking method. It has been claimed that if you boil broccoli it boosts the vitamin A content. Steaming broccoli has also been shown to preserve the vitamin C and protein levels, while eating it raw is said to help the cancer fighting nutrients enter your body.
This leafy green was the main reason why Popeye was so strong and after taking a look at the benefits of eating spinach we’re not surprised the link was made. Spinach is well known for its high calcium levels but did you know that one cup can provide you with around 12% of your recommended daily amount? It is also packed full of vitamin K, so for healthy bones, spinach is a great addition to any diet.
Spinach and Avocado Smoothie
Put half an avocado, a generous amount of spinach a few pineapple chunks and 300ml of coconut water in the blender until it’s a nice smooth consistency.
Fish is a really good option to include in your diet, not only for its health benefits but also for providing plenty of variety. Our number one recommendation is salmon, packed full of protein and a generous amount of omega-3 fatty acids, both of which have been shown to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and contribute to healthy brain function.
Legumes like beans, peas and lentils are primarily on this list because they are high in protein but low in fat meaning they are great as a side portion on your dinner. They are also a great source of iron and potassium, helping to aid the transportation of oxygen around the body and lower systolic blood pressure. The benefits don’t stop there for these little wonders as they can help to reduce cholesterol thanks to the soluble fibre that they contain.
Legumes are a great addition to any salads as they will give it a great texture and make your boring everyday salad somewhat exiting.
Quinoa often gets people talking for a number of reasons, one of which is its pronunciation. To settle the debate, the correct way to say it is if fact ‘keen-wa’. With that sorted, we can cover what gives this wheat free alternative its nutritional prowess. There has been quite a craze over quinoa recently and for good reason as it contains double the protein levels of barley and rice. These little grains are also a good source of calcium and magnesium.
Quinoa can be used in a variety of recipes from salads to make quinoa couscous, the possibilities really are endless. However our favourite use for quinoa in the office is as a substitute for rice, so get swapping it in your chili and curries next time as a healthier alternative. If you are going to make it your rice replacement we would recommend to add a stock cube as you boil to give it a bit more flavour.