Written By: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, Adv Dip Nut Med)
The term ‘superfood’ is simply a term coined and used for marketing purposes only. Now, I’m not here to bash acai berries, tell you to cull quinoa or throw your goji’s in the garbage but let’s not get carried away with these guys and forget about all the super-wonderful foods we have locally, at our grocer, farmer’s markets and even in our own back yard.
Most of the nutrients are found in the skin so be sure to eat them whole. Apples contain a special fiber ‘pectin’ which your gut bugs love! It acts as a prebiotic for your probiotic pals. It’s also a source of vitamin C, potassium and other components known as ‘phytochemicals’. These compounds are potent antioxidants, found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Specifically, in apples, you will find quercetin, a flavonoid that is partly responsible for the colour of the apple. Flavonoids are anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic and heart-friendly compounds to support the popular phrase “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away”.
A sulphur-rich cruciferous vegetable which is excellent for supporting liver detoxification as well as being one of the most nutrient dense foods and highest in protein, compared to other vegetables. It’s rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and folic acid as well as minerals phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. Again, containing phytonutrients, but more specifically lutein and glucosinolates which are anti-cancerous, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The glucosinolates in broccoli are known to excrete the form of estrogen linked to breast cancer. Enjoy your broccoli baked, stir-fried or lightly steamed with a little olive oil or grass-fed butter to increase nutrient absorption (and it tastes delicious).
A brightly coloured and delicious eaten raw, grilled or cooked in the pan. Red capsicum has higher levels of nutrients than the green varieties, but none the less still both incredibly healthy! The phytonutrients in capsicum include lycopene (also found in tomatoes), zeaxanthin, chlorogenic acid and coumeric acid which are known to possess anti-cancerous and heart-protective properties. Capsicum contains high levels of vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins thiamine, folic acid and pyridoxine (B1, B9, B6) and beta-carotene which is your precursor to vitamin A. This vegetable is a brilliant immune builder and can also help reduce risks of heart attacks and strokes by preventing blood clots.
This one’s not for everyone, the potency of garlic being so sulphurous can cause some bloating, gas and not so pleasant breath. But, if you can tolerate it then I say go to town on this one as it’s a powerhouse of health benefits, most of which are attributed to the allicin. Allicin is responsible for the truly medicinal properties of garlic. Garlic is a source of selenium, an essential trace mineral in the body which also acts as an antioxidant. Its anti-cancerous, immune building, candida fighting and used commonly to help with stomach upsets.
This bitter, sour fruit is highly alkalising to the body, aids digestion, is a diuretic, immune building and adds a refreshing twist to plain water or squeezed over salads, fish or vegetables to add a little extra flavour. It’s a source of vitamin C, B6, potassium, folic acids and flavonoids with minimal natural sugars.
One of my favourite vegetables, I love it steamed or baked with cinnamon, coconut oil, and sea salt – delicious! It’s a source of vitamins and minerals from vitamin C, B6, B2, copper, manganese, and fibre. It's rich in carotenoids – high antioxidant phytonutrients which are anti-inflammatory. Interesting to note, sweet potatoes are a form of resistant starch. This is formed by cooking and allowing the potato to cool before consuming. This process of heating and cooling converts part of the carbohydrates over to resistant starch, a type of fibre that we as humans do not digest but rather it acts as a food source for the good gut bacteria. What this means is you’ll have fewer carbohydrates and more fibre, which is good to know for those of you who may be following a low carb diet. Did I mention its perfect for making delicious brownies?
A great source of omega 3 fatty acids making walnuts a great food for a healthy heart and mind. Walnuts are known as food for the brain, and coincidentally they look like little brains themselves. They are antioxidant-rich, cholesterol lowering and help to relax the blood vessels, keeping them smooth and relaxed to reduce the risk of clot formation. Combine with chopped apples, cucumber, and celery in a fresh salad – it's delicious!
Packed with protein and B vitamins for energetic bodies, eggs are also a source of vitamin K, D, and selenium. Eggs are also found to be a source of omega 3 fatty acids but this can vary depending on the source of the egg and the health of the hen – best to do your research with this one, as I would encourage you all to source quality eggs from free roaming, organic hens. Eggs are easily boiled and can be taken on the run as a quick snack, to bulk up salads, or to be stir-fried through with some vegetables to make a healthy scram.
A meat-free protein source, full of fibre which assists in lowering cholesterol and help balance blood sugars. Beans are wonderful to maintain a healthy heart, not only because of the high fibre content but also their antioxidant levels and magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that is essential to the body. Beans are also a source of minerals including iron, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese as well as vitamins B6, and B9 – these vitamins are cofactors for many of the biochemical pathways that happen on a cellular level that allows our body to function.