Dwelling in this modern, fast-paced era has made us prioritize convenience over other things. From everyday tools, appliances to gadgets, we are consistently seeking items that pack the most features under one roof. In the context of our diet, even though there isn’t a single whole food source that bears a full ranged nutritional profile capable of satisfying bodily requirements. However, there are indeed food options which can offer a power-packed array of nutrients that are beneficial to our overall well being, often termed as “superfoods”. I have handpicked a list of such food sources that are not only nutritious but also easily made available in most grocery stores.
Berries- blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries (1)
These tiny, juicy “nuggets” are packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids which are said to alleviate oxidation induced stresses in the body. They also serve as great sources of potassium, vitamin C and fibre.
Generally, berries are highly beneficial to the body because :
- They lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory (excessive inflammation in the body can lead to joint pain, fatigue and damage to blood vessels (2) )
- Help to boost memory
- Help in weight management as they are low in calories and high in water content.
The key is to select berries that are richer / darker in colour as they are said to retain more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Definitely a great source of high-quality protein, a large egg contains approximately 6 grams of protein. Eggs are also able to prop up satiety levels, this is good news for those who are on a weight-conscious diet as it prevents excessive eating. Egg yolks (to be taken in moderation due to its high cholesterol level) are found to contain 2 beneficial antioxidants -lutein and zeaxanthin. Not only can they help to keep our eyes and vision healthy, it is also shown that lutein may help to protect the skin from being ravaged by UV rays.
Everyone should go “nuts” over nuts. This superfood is brimming with heart-healthy unsaturated fats which can reduce the overall “bad” LDL cholesterol whilst promoting healthy levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.Walnuts, in particular, are said to contain high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is an omega-3 fatty acid that has been linked to heart health and improved mood.
Even though it might not be able to give you that muscle bursting, an anabolic effect experienced by Popeye, these vegetables will sure pack a punch in terms of the huge array of nutrition it has to offer. This low-calorie food source is rich in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fibre, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. In short, this leafy bunch is so beneficial that it can literally make you feel as revitalized as Popeye would. Spinach also contains flavonoids which are essential antioxidants made to protect the body from free radicals.
Studies have pointed out that spinach rich diet helps in maintaining healthy brain function, improve memory and mental clarity.
Cold water fish (5)
Omega-3s are abundant in fatty, cold-water fishes such as salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel. Omega-3s are known to lower the risks of heart diseases, help in curbing arthritis and bear possible positive effects on memory loss and Alzheimer’s. There is also evidence showing that it could help in reducing depression as well. In addition, this food source is also rich in monosaturated fats which can help in lowering bad cholesterol levels.
Chia Seeds (6)
These seeds of wonder are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and calcium. For those who do not eat a lot of fish, chia seeds serve as great plant-based omega-3 alternative (6). Three teaspoons of these seeds can conjure 10g of fibre and nearly 5g of protein (7)! Boost the nutritional content of everyday foods such as oatmeals, cereals, smoothies, salads and stir-fries by simply sprinkling chia seeds over them, how much more convenient can this get?
Dark Chocolate (7)
Great news for chocolate lovers! But before you pick up that next bar, please note that the emphasis here is on dark chocolate, which contains way lesser sugar and 2 to 3 times more flavonoids than milk chocolate. Flavonoids are antioxidants that can reduce risks of blood clots, lower blood pressure, increase endurance, improve skin condition, and can even sharpen cognitive skills.
(1) Brett, B. (2009, May 26). Superfood: Berries. Retrieved January 13, 2016, from http://sheerbalance.com/superfood-berries/
(2) 14 Foods That Fight Inflammation. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2016, from http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html
(3) 10 Everyday Superfoods. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2016, from http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/10_everyday_superfoods
(4) What is Spinach Good For? – Mercola.com. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2016, from http://foodfacts.mercola.com/spinach.html
(5) Susan, S. (2007, February 16). ‘Superfoods’ Everyone Needs: Blueberries, Tea, Salmon, & More. Retrieved January 13, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/diet/superfoods-everyone-needs?page=1
(6) 11 Superfoods You Should Know About. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2016, from http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/food/superfoods/chia-seeds
(7) Superfood: Dark Chocolate. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2016, from http://www.myrecipes.com/healthy-diet/super-foods/health-benefits-of-dark-chocolate