This article was first published on 25 May 2022.
‘Superfood’ is a term that often pops up when we talk about proper healthy eating. Numerous beauty brands have also cited superfoods as exceptional ingredients that they've included in their skincare and bodycare products. But what exactly are superfoods and what makes them, well, super?
What are superfoods?
Every type of food has its own share of health benefits. However, what sets superfoods apart is the amount of vitamins, nutrition, and other health-related advantages they have while still being low on calories. As of writing, there’s no exhaustive list of food items that fall under this category. But known superfoods are mostly plant-based and are easily available in the produce aisle.
Ready to power up your diet? Add these 13 affordable superfoods to your cart the next time you go grocery shopping.
1. Dark green leafy vegetables (DGLVs)
When it comes to healthy eating, we’re often told to ‘eat [our] greens’. This is because DGLVs — kale, arugula, romaine lettuce, and watercress to name a few — are packed with a lot of vitamins and minerals that our body needs to repair itself. These vegetables are also good sources of fibre, which help develop better metabolic pathways. Many DGLVs also contain high levels of potassium which feeds us with energy and keeps us alert throughout the day. However, it is worth noting that eating DGLVs without proper protein and carbohydrate balance is also bad for the health. So don’t rely on that lettuce and kale entirely, okay?
There are varying opinions about how healthy eggs really are. Although eggs have high cholesterol content, they’re still considered as one of the best low-calorie sources of protein and other B-vitamins. Eggs also contain vitamin A, zeaxanthin, and lutein, all of which are great for maintaining eye health. Research also suggests that people who eat eggs in proper moderation are in little to no risk of developing cardiovascular diseases or diabetes despite the food’s cholesterol content.
3. Green tea
What’s a list on healthy food without green tea? This superfood is rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which significantly combats causes of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Obsessed with garlic? Well, good news! This is another superfood that carries huge amounts of antioxidants and immune-boosting properties that help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and manage high-blood pressure. This flavourful culinary staple is also packed with tons of B-vitamins that are amazing for hair and skin health. It’s also a good source of fibre, thus keeping your gut health in check.
There are many types of mushrooms on the market today (shiitake, button, portobello, oyster, etc.), all of which boast high levels of potassium, fibre, and antioxidants. They are also a great protein alternative to meat. Plus, since mushrooms are cultivated through the use of agricultural waste, it’s one of the most sustainable superfoods available today.
6. Olive oil
The natural sweet-tangy flavour of berries is great in taming cravings that otherwise lead to unnecessary (and unhealthy) snacking. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and the like are also all rich in vitamin C, which is a key element in boosting the immune system. Berries are also known for effectively preventing and combatting chronic illnesses and decreasing signs and causes of inflammation.
8. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are another great sources of protein. These are also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent cardiovascular diseases. Natural oils that come from nuts and seeds are also great for maintaining skin health and moisture.
Ginger is another pantry staple that’s considered a superfood for its multiple medicinal effects. It provides remedy for various aches and pains, and is also an effective cure against nausea and vomiting. It also lowers the risk of cardiovascular and neurological illnesses. It also has great antibacterial and soothing properties, which is why it’s often used in throat care and cold sore treatments.
Over the years, avocado has earned the reputation of being a bougie Instagram food. But it’s actually worth the merit, being rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and oleic acid that helps with blood vessel health. Just like other superfoods, avocados also have anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps lower the risk of heart disease and supports healthy weight management.
Ever wondered why salmon is usually the suggested protein in many diets? It's because it's packed with a lot of healthy fats, potassium, and B vitamins. These are all vital to the body's natural strength and repair processes. It's also easy to pair with other carbs or vegetables to create a full meal.
12. Sweet potato
This filling root vegetable is a great alternative if you're looking for a healthy snack that will satisfy your cravings. Despite its naturally sweet flavour, it doesn't raise one's blood sugar too much, making it suitable even for those who are watching their sugar intake. They're also a great source of carotenoids which are said to reduce the risks of cancer.
Turmeric isn't just great for adding colour and flavour to your food, it's also known for a number of medicinal benefits. It's rich in antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is said to reduce risks of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease.
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