By Luke Kavallares, Sports Therapist.
As a society, we are becoming increasingly conscious about what we put into our system in the pursuit of a healthy balanced diet. This shift brings with it an influx of quick fixes, detox diets, and so-called “superfoods”. Confusing right? Let’s be honest, most of them aren’t that appealing or realistic. Who wants to live off kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner or monitor their pH levels after every meal? Certainly not me!Fear not! You’ll be glad to know that there are actual superfoods out there, easily added to your diet, which are super healthy, super simple and most importantly super delicious!
Here are our top 5
Blueberries: Packed full of power-punching properties which can aid your recovery and taste great too! Blueberries are full of antioxidants, low in calories, high in nutrients, and packed with Vitamin C and K. Their high fibre content makes them great for gut function. Studies suggest that they may be helpful for reducing the risk of heart disease, have anti-diabetic effects and also reduce muscle soreness post-exercise. Suggestions: Smoothies & juices, healthy snack alternative, added to some greek yoghurt for a tasty dessert or breakfast. Goji berries: This tiny snack keeps on giving! You’ll struggle to find a superfood list which doesn’t include these gems. They’re everywhere! Goji berries are great for keeping your body fighting-fit, abundant in fibre, vitamin A + C, protein, iron and copper. Often linked to protection against diseases due to the high antioxidant level (particularly in a concentrated juice form), goji berries can also be beneficial for weight loss. Their high fibre and low GI value makes one feel full quicker, which leads to less craving and snacking on the wrong things, and therefore increased fat burn. Suggestions: On your breakfast yoghurt, or in a smoothie, snack, goji berry juice or tea. Avocado: The fruit of hipsters around the world (and yes, it is a fruit…who knew?!). Just take a stroll into your local bistro and I’m certain you’ll find avo-something on the menu. Don’t believe the hype? Avocados are a strong player in the move towards a high fat, low carb way of living. They are packed with healthy fatty acids (the same as those found in olive oil) and low in saturated fats, high in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins & minerals. Foods such as avocados can also help to reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Did you know that avocados also have more potassium than bananas? (Potassium is key for controlling blood pressure as well as in muscle function). Suggestions: Smashed avocado goes amazingly well with scrambled eggs, guacamole, smoothies, salads, in burgers, with poached eggs, the list goes on!
Coconut (coconut oil): Cook with it, bake with it, drink it, swish it around your mouth, rub it on your skin, how very versatile! Coconut can often be an acquired taste, there’s no guessing when it comes to which chocolates will be leftover in box of Celebrations at Christmas! But its uses in cooking and healthy eating are skyrocketing. Coconut milk and flesh are great, however it’s coconut oil which is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. Following the trend of other foods in this list, it’s the fatty acids in coconut oil which we are interested in. It can help to increase good cholesterol levels, which in turn can decrease our risk of developing heart disease. It is also regarded as a quick energy boost; reducing appetite, increasing fat burning and more importantly a decrease in the number you see on your scales! Coconut oil is also great for your skin, teeth and hair.
Suggestions: replacement for sunflower/vegetable oil, coconut water, use in stir-fry and curries, add to your coffee, smoothiesFish (oily fish): It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of superfoods, but fish is probably the MVP (most valuable player) on this list! A staple part of diets around the world, the consumption of fish is often associated with longevity and brain function, and it’s no surprise that countries with the best health eat A LOT of fish. It’s another food high in nutrients, high quality protein, and the best natural source of vitamin D. But most importantly…Omega-3 fatty acids! We all want to increase grey matter to maintain brain function as we get older, plus it aids normal baby development, and improves our mental health. It is recommended that we eat at least two servings of fish per week, including one oily fish (e.g. salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, mackerel), reducing the risk of heart disease. Suggestions: grilled, poached, smoked, steamed, baked, add to your stir fry/curry/salad, throw it on the BBQ etc. Other close contenders: kale, turmeric, chia seeds, seaweed, green tea/matcha tea So, there you have it, our 5 superfoods which are healthy and delicious too!