Simply put, superfoods are nutritional powerhouses that offer dense quantities of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals. Think of them as a small bite that packs a big nutrient-rich punch! Try mixing these seven superfoods into your summer meals to promote healthy living in these warm months:
- Matcha Powder (add to smoothies, healthy desserts or drink as a latte with almond milk) One of the major health benefits of matcha tea is that it delivers a mega dose of antioxidants in every sip – approximately 137 times more than regularly brewed green tea! Matcha powder contains a unique, potent class of antioxidant known as catechins, which aren’t found in other foods. In particular, the catechin EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate) provides potent cancer-fighting properties. EGCg also counteracts the effects of free radicals from the likes of pollution, UV rays, radiation, and chemicals, which can lead to cell and DNA damage. Other health benefits of matcha include boosting metabolism and burning calories, detoxifying the body effectively and naturally, enhancing mood and aiding in concentration, helping prevent disease, lowering cholesterol and helping balance blood sugar.
- Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals. They are delicious sprinkled over vegetable dishes or salads, added to your morning cereal or in a smoothie. Hemp seeds a great source of arginine and gamma-linolenic acid, which have been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease. They have a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which may benefit skin diseases and provide relief from eczema and its uncomfortable symptoms. Hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source. Hemp is also a natural appetite suppressant and can help you feel full longer and reduce sugar cravings.
- Maca is considered an “adaptogen”, a name given to certain herbs, plants, and natural substances that help the body naturally adapt to stressors like a busy schedule, demanding job, or illness, for example. Maca Root benefits include increased fertility in both men and women, hormone balance, booster for the immune system, and increased energy, stamina, improved sexual function, memory, and focus. Consuming maca often makes people feel more “alive”, energetic, and leaves them with a good sense of well-being. Another benefit of maca is its relatively high amount of absorbable plant-based nutrients, including protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium, among others. Add to smoothies or mixed in with some vanilla yoghurt.
- Dragon Fruit has an impressive nutritional profile and subtle fresh flavour – perfect in a berry smoothie or fruit salad. Rich in phytonutrients, which can help prevent disease and help you maintain optimal health, they are also rich in antioxidants (anti-ageing) and polyunsaturated (good) fatty acids (heart healthy), as well as vitamin C (improves immunity), several B vitamins, calcium (bone health), carotene (anti-cancer) and protein. Dragon fruit has a significant fibre content which improves satiety, assists with the flushing of toxins via waste from the bowels, and helps reduce the chances of conditions like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Dragon fruit is also a great source of prebiotics – essential to the growth of good bacteria (probiotics) in the gut.
- Moringa: When it comes to moringa benefits, there are almost too many to count! Arguably the world’s most nutritious green, it contains more nutrients and natural remedies than your body knows what to do with. I’ll save the whole list for another article and just focus on how moringa benefits skin health. Taken internally, moringa powder has one of the highest antioxidant contents of any food. Antioxidants are essential for protecting, repairing and preventing cell damage, minimising the ageing process of the skin in the long-term. They help counteract oxidative stress and the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage collagen causing skin dryness, fine lines, wrinkles and premature ageing. Moringa oil applied topically builds collagen fibres and minimize the appearance of fine wrinkle lines, improves moisture, softness and smoothness, is a natural healing emollient and protects your skin from environmental damage.
- Acai, pronounced ah-sigh-ee, is one of the most potent superfood fruits out there. It is full of anti-inflammatory nutrients: anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, protocatechuic acid, procyanidins and epicatechin – in addition to vitamin C, vitamin A and dietary fibre. Acai is also high-antioxidant, helping down signs of aging and promoting good health. Some studies show that acai is even richer in protective antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries or the goji berry. Acai berries are also believed to help control appetite hormones, increase energy, prevent heart disease and help with many metabolic functions. Acai powder is delicious in smoothies, smoothie bowls or mixed in with a fresh berry juice.
- Beetroot is a dietary staple for athletes and with good reason. Exercise can leave muscles feeling fatigued and stressed, but beets are a superfood that can offer a host of muscle-recovery benefits. Beetroot naturally contains beneficial nitrates, which are effective when working to increase energy and athletic performance. These dietary nitrates convert to nitric oxide, which aid in eliminating toxins from the body. Beets have also been shown to improve oxygen and stamina, which can lead to better overall performance. Eat beetroot grated raw into salads, roasted with other root vegetables, juiced with some apple, carrot and ginger or steamed, pureed then blended cold into a superfood smoothie.
According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, “Your healthy life expectancy is proportional to the micronutrient-per-calorie density of your diet. We want to get as many micronutrients as possible per caloric buck.” This is why we love superfoods! Experiment, try new recipes and invest in your health by adding these seven superfoods in to your daily diet.