Blog - Superfoods: What are they and how can they be of benefit?

By The Haven Team: 04 Nov 2014

Superfoods are foods which have a very high nutritional content giving us more health and energy. It’s good to include as many superfoods in your diet as possible.

If you would like more advice on diet or wish to find out if you have any allergies or intolerances then please give us a ring at the clinic and we will be happy to make you a booking with one of our Kinesiologists. Call us on 01364 654954.

Here are some of the most common and easy to buy superfoods.

Blueberries           

Valued for its high levels of antioxidants, some nutritionists believe that if you make only one change to your diet, it should be to add blueberries.

Die-hards claim blueberries can help protect against heart disease and some cancers, as well as improve your memory.

They are low in calories and high in nutrients, including phenolic compounds with an antioxidant capacity significantly higher than vitamins C or E.  Antioxidents have a detoxifying effect on the body preventing disease.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate and its distinctive ruby-red jewel-like seeds have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

Pomegranates are a low calorie food that is great for snacking. They are also packed with antioxidants. Eating this juicy red fruit has been shown to reduce risk of breast cancer, reduce cholesterol, and fight cell damage. Pomegranates are also effective for controlling diarrhea.

Pomegranate juice is delicious (avoid brands with added sugar) or add pomegranate seeds to cold dishes and salads. It's a healthy and appetising way to increase the nutritional value of your meal."

Goji Berries

Goji berries have been used in Chinese medicine for more than 6,000 years. These shrivelled red berries are said to boost the immune system and brain activity, protect against heart disease and cancer, and improve life expectancy.

Dark Chocolate

Believe it or not, chocolate is a healthy treat, as long as you choose wisely. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and boost overall heart health. Choose chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao or cocoa to optimize the antioxidant power and health benefits. If you want to avoid sugar altogether enjoy Cacao (raw chocolate) instead. You can eat this in the form of Cacao nibs or use the powder for delicious smoothies and cakes.

Oily fish

Interest in the health benefits of oily fish started when researchers observed that Eskimos, who eat mainly oily fish, had fewer heart attacks and strokes than average.

Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are said to help against cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, age-related vision loss and dementia.

The benefits of fish are so well documented that the NHS suggests that we all eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish. Oily fish – such as salmon and fresh tuna – is also particularly high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to lower blood pressure and improve blood lipids both of which help to keep your heart healthy.

Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are so readily available and so highly nutritious, however most people do not eat enough of them. Studies continuously confirm that populations that eat a diet high in green leafy vegetables run a far lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Fresh raw green leafy vegetables contain high doses of chlorophyll, easily digestible proteins, enzymes and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. These particular vegetables act as mini-transfusions for the blood, a health tonic for the brain and immune system and a cleanser of the kidneys. Try any of the following: rocket, spinach, dandelion greens, kale, watercress, parsley, lettuce, endive, chicory, broccoli sprouts and mustard sprouts.

Spinach

Spinach is filled with antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin — a duo that acts like sunscreen for your eyes and guards against macular degeneration. One cup of fresh spinach leaves also provides almost double the daily requirement for vitamin K, which plays an important role in cardiovascular and bone health. And of course you can't forget that spinach is a great vegetarian source of iron, which keeps your hair and nails strong and healthy. Use fresh spinach leaves as a base for salad or sauté it and add to an omelet.

Brocoli

Brocoli can help combat cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It contains many nutrients, such as folate, soluble and insoluble fibre, vitamins C and A, and calcium, which are needed for numerous functions in the body.

Green Tea

Green Tea has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat everything from headaches to depression.

The leaves are supposedly richer in antioxidants than other types of tea because of the way they are processed.

All types of tea (green, black and oolong) are produced from the Camellia sinensis plant using different methods. Fresh leaves from the plant are steamed to produce green tea, while the leaves of black tea and oolong involve fermentation.

Green tea is alleged to boost weight loss, reduce cholesterol, combat cardiovascular disease, and prevent cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

Garlic

Recent evidence-based research suggests garlic may be effective against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, colds and some cancers.

Beetroot

Although the leaves have always been eaten, historically the beet root was generally used medicinally for a range of ailments, including fevers, constipation and skin problems.

More recent health claims suggest beetroot can help lower blood pressure, boost exercise performance and prevent dementia.

Beetroot is rich in nitrates. When ingested, scientists believe our body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, a chemical thought to lower blood pressure

Seaweed

Seaweeds are the most nutritionally dense plants on the planet as they have access to all the nutrients in the ocean. They can contain up to 10 times more calcium than milk and eight times as much as beef. The chemical composition of seaweeds is so close to human blood plasma, that perhaps their greatest benefit is regulating and purifying our blood system.

Honey and Bee Pollen

The Egyptians wrote about it back in 5500 B.C., the Indians used it for their religious ceremonies in 1000 B.C. and even the Babylonians have been noted to use it in their medicinal practices. The western world actually discovered the benefits of bee superfoods by accident during an investigation of native Russian Beekeepers who regularly lived past 100 years of age who ate raw honey, rich in bee pollen, every day.
Fruit and Nuts

Fruit and nut’s are high in anti-oxidants that fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are a natural occurrence through metabolism however extra free radical load can be put on our bodies by external factors including pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation, burnt foods, deep fried fats and cooked foods. If our body is overloaded and cannot process these compounds they can create disease such as cancer. Therefore anti-oxidants fight cancer.