What are superfoods? They are foods that are considered to be hugely beneficial to our health and immune system while possesing alleged power to protect us from certain ailments. Below you will find five superfoods to include in your diet that claim to improve and maintain your overall health. Lets dive into it, shall we?
Blueberries are filled to the brim with antioxidants.
Blueberries are bursting with antioxidants, such as anthocyanin, blueberries also contain vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and fibre. Reputedly, blueberries can help protect us against certain types of cancer and heart disease, lower high blood pressure and improve our memory. A 2012 study involving 93,000 woman discovered that participants who consumed three or more portions of blueberries and strawberries per week had a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack compared to those who ate berries one a month (or less). This study did not conclusively prove that is the blueberries were responsible for this risk reduction. Smaller studies have shown that blueberries relax the walls of our blood vessels, which may assist in lowering risk of atherosclerosis, responsible for increasing the likelihood of heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure.
The jury is really still out on whether or not blueberries can help reduce high blood pressure, as so far only small, inconclusive studies have been carried out. The same could be said of the blueberry’s claim to help fight cancer. Blueberry extracts, such as anthocyanins, have been shown to decrease the free radical damage that can cause cancer. These tests have however been executed in the lab on cells and animals, not humans, so it is not clear how well humans absorb these extracts. Equally, so far none of the small studies carried out have provided a conclusive link between improved memory and blueberry consumption. What we do know is that they make an amazing addition to your protein shake, so there’s no harm in including these in your diet.
#02. Goji Berries
Tasty and healthy. Rightfully considered superfood, the goji berry
Ranked highly on the chart of superfoods, the plumb red goji berry, also called the wolfberry, has been known for its beneficial health properties for over 6,000 years in Chinese medicine. Bursting with vitamin C, B2, E and A, goji berries also contain selenium, iron and a host of antioxidants such as polysaccharides and are packed with beta-carotene. Allegedly goji berries help boost our immune system, aid in heart disease and cancer prevention and adds to our brain functioning optimally. They are even afforded the power to improve to add to our life expectancy. Is there any truth in these claims?
According to the British National Health Service (NHS) and the British Dietetic Association (BDA) there is no reliable evidence to support these supposed superpowers. Thus far only small-sized studies have been carried out, however. One conducted in 2008, comprised of 34 participants, found that a daily dose of 20 milliliter of goji berry juice for a 2 week period improved the feeling of wellbeing and had a positive effect on brain activity and digestion. What can be confirmed however is that he goji berries high vitamin content is truly beneficial to our health. Also, they are a tasty addition to your breakfast yogurt bowl or individually as a snack, so there’s no excuse not to make these a staple of your diet.
Broccoli is bursting with beta-carotene, vitamin A, C, K, fibre, calcium and folate.
Taste wise not everyone’s favourite, yet broccoli managed to find a way to make it to this list of superfoods. Fans of the vegetable claim that it can help fight cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Is there any truth to these claims? Broccoli does contain sulforaphane, a powerful anti-cancer compound, which assists in neutralizing potentially cancer-forming substances in our bodies. Broccoli also contains indole-3-carbinol, responsible for inactivating oestrone, which is a harmful form of oestrogen associated with breast cancer.
This green superfood is bursting with beta-carotene, vitamin A, C, K, fibre, calcium and folate. Whatever broccoli’s other health benefits entail, it should help us feel healthy and keep a cold or two away. But can it beat cancer?
A 2007 review of available evidence on cancer prevention by the World Cancer Research Fund has confirmed that eating more non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, can be associated with a reduced risk of developing throat, stomach and mouth cancers. Clinical trials are needed to investigate this finding in greater detail, however. Alison Hornby, a BDA spokesperson and dietician, explains that although broccoli doesn’t live up to the claims made by superfoodies, it does contain nutrients such as soluble and insoluble fibre, calcium, vitamin A and C. This on its own makes broccoli a valuable part of your diet.
“It is a member of the family of cruciferous vegetables along with cauliflower, bok choy and cabbage. These all contain compounds that are linked to improving the body’s ability to impede the growth of cancer cells. Broccoli is a flexible vegetable that works well in salads, stir fries, curries and soups. An 80 gram serving will count towards your 5 a day.”
Easily grown in gardens and popular as an ingredient for soups and dips, beetroot is believed to have the power to lower our blood pressure, prevent dementia as we get older and boost our performance when we exercise. Historically it has been used to treat a variety of ailments, from fevers to constipations, skin problems and liver complaints and for preventing birth defects. Beetroot owes its deep red colouring to an antioxidant called betacyanin, which enhances liver detoxification. It is also a great source for iron and bursting with folate, a naturally occurring folic acid, and magnesium, which is essential for a healthy looking skin and strong bones and cartilage. Beetroot also contains betaine, nitrates and various other antioxidants.
So have beetroots’ claims to be a superfood been verified by a reputable source? Britain’s National Health Service authority teamed up with the British Dietetic Association and conducted a research on these aforementioned claims. In a 2013 study they found that nitrates in beetroot juice were indeed responsible for a modest reduction in blood pressure. Another study conducted in 2013 looked at beetroots’ alleged boosting capabilities during exercise. Although this research was deemed inconclusive, as it was based on too small a sample, it showed enough promise for a follow-up in 2014. That study involved cyclists performing at high altitudes (2,500 meters above sea level) confirmed that beetroot juice gave them an average 16 second improvement on their performance.
Personally not a big fan of the taste, but blended as part of a smoothie there’s no reason not to include it in your meal plan. Adds a nice bit of colour and if only five percent of its alleged health traits are true, it is definitely a worthy addition.
#05. Green Tea
Green tea contains folate, vitamin B, catechins, manganese, magnesium, caffeine and potassium.
Used in Chinese medicine for centuries to treat a wide range of ailments such as depression and headaches, green tea has been hailed as an all-powerful elixir of life by many. Green tea leaves allegedly contain far more antioxidants than any other type of tea. And while it is true that green tea contains folate, vitamin B, catechins, manganese, magnesium, caffeine and potassium, it is also true that all types of tea, be they green, oolong or black, are produced from the same Camellia sinensis plant. What is different are the methods of production and the way they are processed.
The leaves of oolong and black tea undergo a fermentation process, while green tea is made from fresh leaves that are steamed. Some claim green tea can aid in weight loss and combat heart disease, prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s and lower cholesterol. Comprehensive studies involving over 1.6 million participant back in 2009 found no clear link between green tea and the prevention of cancers. However, a study conducted in 2015 discovered that when combined with a drug called Herceptin, which is part of breast and stomach cancer treatment, green tea showed promising results in laboratory tests. Human trials are currently being considered due to these results. As for all the other health claims; thus far there is insufficient evidence that green tea has any preventative powers to protect us against Alzheimer’s or heart disease. Nor has it been proven to be instrumental in reducing cholesterol or aiding weight loss.
What foods do you consider to be superfoods? And did you notice any change in your health when you started to implement the superfood in your diet? Would love to hear opinions and gather new insights.