What are super-foods?
Scientifically, super-foods have high phytonutrient content. The term phytonutrient (also known as phytochemicals) refers to certain compounds found in plants that are believed to be of extreme benefit to a human in protecting from diseases; however they are still under scientific research.
Super-foods also have low calorie contents, allowing them to be eaten in greater quantities and are easily incorporated into everyday meals and snacking!
Number 5 – Apples
There are so many reasons why apples are a must. In this day of the credit crunch, they are cheap and cheerful, with plenty of varieties to choose from. They are easily stored in a small handbag, so can be eaten on the go if needed, and, like all super-foods, are low calorie, with the average apple containing approximately 55 calories and, eaten without the skin, this drops to approximately 40 calories.
The health benefits of eating apples are numerous. Apples contain pectin, a soluble dietary fibre, which appears to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Quercitin (a phytonutrient) is also found in apples, which prevents damage to LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. By doing this the risk of damage to the arteries is decreased along with a reduced risk of heart disease.
A study was carried out on 10,000 people and the end result was that according to the study those that ate the most apples had a 50% lower risk of developing lung cancer. The researchers of the study believe that this is down to the high levels of quercetin and naringin in apples.
Other health benefits include weight loss, bone protection and breast, colon and liver cancer prevention.
Number 4 – Beets
Beets are not a food that is commonly used, and very rarely do they make it onto anyone’s dinner plate. However, the benefits of eating beets means that now summer is coming, it is worthwhile sneaking them into a fair few salads.
100 grams of beets contain 43 calories, the first reason why they should be eaten. They contain Vitamin C, Folate and Betaine in large quantities, and, Folate (Folic acid) is advised to be taken by pregnant women in their first trimester to lower the risk of birth defects and spina bifida in the baby.
Beets are a cleanser and detoxifier. This is due to the iron content, which is not high but the quality is effective. The juice of beets can stimulate the function of liver cells, and are used in treating liver conditions such as jaundice. The juice, when drunk on a regular basis, can help in the relief of constipation, and, because the juice is highly alkaline, it is effective in the treatment of acidosis.
Number 3 – Garlic
Like Marmite, something a person loves or hates. The smell is around for hours after eating it, and, when a work colleague in a little office has eaten a bit too much at lunchtime it’s time for the doors and windows to be fully opened!
It is however, one of the only super-foods that come with a few disadvantages. When eaten raw and in large quantities, garlic has been known to cause irritation to the digestive tract. There is also potential to disrupt anti-coagulants, and it has been advised not to consume garlic before surgery.
Fresh garlic contains 149 calories per 100 grams, which, as with all super-foods, makes it low calorie. It is used in herbal medicine, especially to treat the symptoms of acne. There is some evidence that garlic can be used in assistance to help manage high cholesterol levels. Garlic is even effective as a natural mosquito repellent.
Modern science has shown garlic to be a natural antibiotic. On the plus side the body never develops a resistance to it, so can be used over time. However, it is not a targeted antibiotic, more so broad-spectrum.
Number 2 – Walnuts
Unfortunately, as is the case with nuts, walnuts do have high calorie content, containing a whopping 618 calories per 100 grams, so moderation is the key as the benefits are worthwhile.
Compared to other nuts, Walnuts have significantly higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids (the good type of fat), that have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. They improve blood vessel elasticity and reducing plaque accumulation.
When it comes to vitamins, walnuts are an excellent source of vitamin B6, thiamine (B1), vitamin E, niacin (B3) and riboflavin (B2). When it comes to minerals, they are an excellent source of copper, zinc, iron and calcium.
Whilst the benefit of reducing the risk of coronary disease has been recognised by the FDA, it must be strongly advised for walnuts to be eaten in moderation and to not exceed the recommended daily calorie intake.
Number 1 – Blueberries
The super-food of super-foods! They are low calorie, with 57 calories per 100 grams. The benefits are numerous, which make them more desirable.
Of all the fresh fruit, blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity. There is enough in there to boost the immune system and help prevent infections, colds, fevers etc.
Blueberries are good for promoting good urinary tract health. The heavy molecules of blueberries prevent the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract and the blueberries themselves have certain antibiotic qualities, minimising the risk of infection.
Anthocyanin, a property found in blueberries (and is responsible for the blue colouring) has many benefits in itself. In clinical studies it has been proven that anthocyanosides slow down the aging effects of visual impairment, including cataracts, myopia and dryness and infections.
The fibre in blueberries can help relieve constipation, as well as improve digestion. Blueberries are often a good anti-depressant, and offer none of the side effects that medication would contain (not advising to stop taking medication). It is worthwhile noting that the deeper the colour blue of the blueberry the rich in anti-oxidants they are.