If you read any nutrition magazine, or browse the internet for health related articles/blogs, you have probably come across some superfoods lists like the five top super foods to help you lose weight, or to get rid of wrinkles, fight disease, build muscle mass and so on. Well, let me give you some bad news straight away.
Unfortunately there is no single food that will ever:
- Make you lose weight.
- Magically melt your fat away (Oh I wish!).
- Build your muscles to make you look like Jessica Ennis (if you are a woman) or Jessie Pavelka (if you are a man).
- Prevent or cure any disease.
- Make you look 10 years younger.
Basically, there is no single magic food with super nutritional powers to do any of the above. Surprised? Keep reading because there is some good news too.
In nutritional terms a ‘super food’ is a nutrient dense food packed full of vitamins, minerals and other health promoting properties. However, in recent years there has been a huge amount of hype about ‘super foods’ which seem to come and go like funky trends. Some of them can be really expensive and this is also why I believe that now the term ‘super food’ is just another marketing trap and consumers should be aware of this and tread carefully!
Why? Because it is possible to eat healthily, consume plenty of nutrients rich foods without breaking the bank and without having to go to specific health food stores to find them.
Think about this for a minute, do you really need to buy goji berries, aronia berries, maca/lucuma/moringa powders, noni juice, kelp or teff? If you want to try something new or you like them already, then please do so and enjoy them. They are fantastic, nutrients rich foods but so are eggs, beetroots, garlic, broccoli, apples and sardines, for example.
What I am trying to say is that most unprocessed, natural and preferably organic ingredients (which you should be eating regularly anyway) like any fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds can be defined as super foods.
You also need to look at your overall eating habits, as no amount of goji berries, not even if consumed daily, is going to make up for a generally poor diet.
So having said this, I am still going to give you a list of foods which can make a good addition to your diet. But fear not, as there are no trends in sight!
Here you are five of my favourite super foods which are neither expensive, nor exotic:
- Eggs: great source of protein as well as iron, zinc, b vitamins and selenium. Eggs contain choline which is vital for brain function and memory. They are also easy and fast to cook.
- Olive oil: well, I am Italian and I was raised with a Mediterranean diet which includes plenty of extra virgin olive oil. Use it raw on your salads or sprinkled on your vegetables once they are cooked. One of my favourite snacks is mixed raw (or lightly steamed) vegetables dipped in olive oil. It is called ‘pinzimonio’ in Italian and it can be used as a simple, yet delicious, appetizer.
- Nuts and seeds: a handful of raw nuts or seeds make an easy portable snack. They are a great source of vitamins, minerals, protein, omega 3 fatty acids and fibre. Store them in closed glass containers in the fridge as heat, air and light damage the beneficial oils in them and make them go rancid.
- Avocados: rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, potassium and b vitamins. Add them to your salads, use them as a creamy alternative to mayonnaise or prepare them as a dip.
- Green tea: rich in antioxidants. Studies have shown that green tea consumption can enhance our immune function, lower our risk of cardiovascular disease, and support a healthy metabolism. Try swapping your daily cappuccino for a cup of green tea instead, you will still get a kick from the caffeine but also a boost of antioxidants.
It is anybody’s guess what new super foods are waiting in the wings but, in the meantime, let’s think about keeping things simple, reducing sugar and all processed foods for a start. Let’s go back to the basics and forget about magic bullets. You see, when it comes to health and nutrition, a lot of it is just common sense.
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