We hear a lot about how our diet needs to be the correct balance of various nutrients – so if we have pulses like dal, then we need to combine it with vegetables for vitamins and a proportion of fats, carbohydrates etc. But we really can’t have the same food every day. What’s more? We cannot make a variety of dishes at once to supplement us with all our nutrients – at least not every day. So how do we ensure that we get maximum nutrients without much effort? Researchers have come up with the idea of ‘superfoods’, which essentially means those foods that consist of a wide range of nutrients.
Now, this should not be confused with superfoods advertised by some companies who give that label to their food tins. Moreover, the term ‘superfoods’ is not used by many scientists as there is debate if all the foods under that label have complete nutritious qualities. This debate arose when seaweeds that are hailed as superfoods have certain drawbacks. Seaweeds are known to have toxins that could cause cancer or damage the liver. Hence, the list of superfoods given below is a valid list with no such drawbacks. In fact, the 1ualties of most of most of them have been known for years.
- Apples –
‘An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.’ However bored you may be of that saying, you cannot refute the qualities an apple contains.They have a high amount of antioxidants, the most important of them being Vitamin C. Vitamin C ensures your gums and skin stay healthy. One apple a day contains a quarter of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. They containa soluble fibre called pectin which lowers cholesterol levels and keep your digestive system healthy. It is a carbohydrate with a low glycaemic index (GI). Foods with low GI are digested slowly. They are gradually absorbed into the bloodstreams as glucose, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar levels. This helps in weight control.
Bananas are said to be fattening. However, that is not entirely true. One banana a day especially before or after exercise is ideal as the level of carbohydrates in it refuels your body with energy. They are also packed with several antioxidants and have a high level of potassium which lowers the blood pressure. It has Vitamin B6 which keeps your skin and hair healthy.
Broccoli contains several antioxidants like vitamin C. It is a very good source of which is naturally occurring folic acid. Prevention of heart disease is one of the main advantages of increasing one’s take of folic acids. It also contains an antioxidant named lutein that helps curb age related macular degeneration (loss of vision). It also contains a phytochemical called sulphoraphane that has certain anti-cancer properties.
Cabbages are low in fat and high in fibre and are full of Vitamin K that helps with mental concentration and function. It is helpful for your skin as it is high in sulphur. It controls blood pressure as it has a good amount of potassium and is known to reduce hangovers.
- Beans and lentils.
Beans and lentils can help you control your weight. It is known to reduce the risk of obesity. They have a rich amount of iron and have properties that can reduce the risk in cancer especially breast cancer. It controls high blood pressure and also known to reduce birth defects in women wanting to be mothers.
- Salmon and mackerel.
Oily fish like salmon and mackerel contain not only protein, vitamins, and minerals, but also omega 3 fats that reduce blood clotting and inflammation. A regular consumption of oily fish can reduce the risk of having a heart attack, even in older adults. Omega 3 fats also help to prevent depression. It is also known to protect against the onset of dementia. Both of them also are one of the very few dietary sources of Vitamin D, the major source being sunlight. However, salmon has higher amounts of Omega 3 fats and Vitamin D than mackerel.
Berries have a high level of phytochemicals that help protect cells from damage. Those who have a high intake of berries also do not suffer from cognitive decline in their advanced years. Berries are also good for those with diabetes as its sugar content isn’t very much. Those who eat at least two berries a day are said to reduce their chances of getting the Parkinson’s disease. Due to their fibre and liquid content, they keep us full and hence are ideal to consume when one wants to lose weight. Flavonoids and other compounds found in blueberries and raspberries are said to prevent cancer. Blueberries are the most ideal berries to consume.
Garlic’s medicinal uses have been known for years and are an integral part of Ayurveda. They are known to reduce the risk of heart diseases and cancer. Garlic is known to strengthen the immune system and can wards off colds and flu. It also has high levels of iodine which is very effective in treating hyperthyroid. It also regulates blood sugar by enhancing the level of insulin in the blood.
Along with these flax seeds (high amount of Omega 3 fats), several green vegetables like spinach, nuts especially walnuts etc. are ideal superfoods. Green tea, almonds, olive oil, whole wheat bread and soy are some more options. A portion of one or more of these superfoods can help your health in a long way.