You may have heard this buzz word being used more and more. So what is a superfood, and why are they good for us?
In general terms a superfood is one that contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as protein, good fats and fibre. They are considered to contain high levels of, and are bursting with natural phytonutrients. As well as the great nutrient levels, they are also superior food sources as they contain fewer of what we would consider as “nasties”. For example high saturated fat or any artificial additives.
As technology has advanced over the years, the testing of superfoods has been proven to show high levels of nutrients, but in many cultures science isn’t needed to prove anything as knowledge of their local superfoods is inherent and passed down the generations. There are fruits and veggies that are now considered “super” that have been eaten for generations as their abundance of health providing benefits has long been anecdotally known in their culture. So science is following up these historic claims and backing up what has always been known.
Daily fruit and veggies are necessary in our diet for all of the nutrients they provide and it is best to select a wide assortment and include a variety of colours; we are taught at a young age the importance of the “5+ a day” guideline. As well as the nutrients fruit and veggies provide they are a great source of fibre. Especially eating them unpeeled. Regular fibre intake helps to keep our digestive system regular, and support efficient elimination. Having irregular bowel movements or poor bowel health can impact our lives in many ways than just the symptomatic feelings of bloating, fullness, wind and general uncomfortable feelings.
Superfoods can be added into your diet to help bolster your 5+ a day. Fruit and veggies provide dietary fibre, but they are not going to be providing good fats, here is where the superfoods can step in. For example there is a super little bright purple berry that is still making headlines; acai (a-sigh-ee) berry is not only loaded with vitamins and minerals, but it can also provide some naturally occurring beneficial fats and provides an abundance of antioxidant compounds. Thus it helps to protect all cells from oxidative damage.
Some other superfruits include acerola berries, elderberries, blueberries; these have also been studied to show that they contain compounds that support immunity, contain powerful antioxidants and support healthy cholesterol levels among other health benefits. Acerola and rosehips in particular contain high levels of naturally occurring Vitamin C.
But let’s not stop there at brightly coloured pretty looking berries; there are large numbers of “green superfoods” out there too. These green superfoods are still gaining in popularity; more and more companies are seeking to include them into their product ranges as the health benefits are recognised. These green “helpers”, to name just a few, include Spirulina, Chlorella, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Spinach, broccoli, and other algae providing essential fatty acids.
These greens above have far reaching benefits, they are bursting with goodness and the nutrients they provide help to boost energy, support heavy metal detoxing and immunity. Let’s look at Spirulina more closely; this blue-green microalgae contains a unique phytochemical phycocyanin. Phycocyanin is responsible for this microalgae’s blue colour. This nutrient helps to boost our immune system, supporting its ability to function in spite of stress from environmental toxins and infectious agents. But not only does it do this, it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties also. Another nutrient that Spirulina contains remarkable levels of is iron, making it a great vegetarian source of this mineral.
Unfortunately in this day and age people are often eating diets that move their body from being alkaline to being more acidic. When the body is overly acidic it may lead to conditions such as sore joints, poor skin, reflux, bowel irregularity. Common foods that are acid forming are caffeine, alcohol, meat, white bread, sugar, fried and processed foods. Foods that lend themselves to being alkaline are fruits and veggies; these foods help to restore the body pH balance. One of the key supergreens that can have a positive effect for helping with alkalising is Barley Grass.
Adding superfoods into your diet doesn’t need to be cumbersome and time consuming. It can easily be done with convenient tablets or capsules. Or what can be great is including a wonderful smoothie into your diet sometime throughout the day. Look out for ready to shake/mix superfood blends; they can be as easy as making up in a shaker. Or what about blending up your favourite superfruit, with some supergreen powders, add some natural yogurt, ice, splash of water or juice and some ground flaxseed. Delicious!
By Erica Matthews
Lifestream International Ltd
Lifestream Essential Greens+ is the perfect addition to your diet to bolster your daily nutrient intake. Just add water or juice to create a delicious ‘green smoothie’ that will boost your daily 5+ a day nutritional needs! Essential Greens+ is available for secure order from our online shop.
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