So last week we covered whether superfoods were fact or fiction. If you are not caught up, I suggest you go back and read up on this post. There are several foods that have been coined “superfoods” largely by the marketing industry. Whereas those may offer benefits there is also a whole load of marketing behind it in order to put them exactly up on that pedastol.
So this week, I thought it would be fun to cover the “true superfoods”. The fruits and veggies that are absolutely stunning, nutrient, antioxidant dense, and provide us with a whole range of benefits. I have added in some recipe inspiration from the blog, if you want to soak up more of all those health benefits 😉. This list may not be exhaustive but it will give you an insight into some really good, nutrient-dense goodness. Let’s dive in.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Let us face it: I bang on about the power of green all the time. Dark, leafy greens do not only contain great amounts of fiber and antioxidants, they also contain vitamin K1, C, iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Vitamin K1 is beneficial and essential for proper blood clotting and bone building, amongst others. In addition, the antioxidants founds in dark leafy greens are also acting largely anti-inflammatory and protect us from both heart disease and risk of diabetes. Try this Creamy Kale Salad.
One of my favorite nutritional powerhouses and deemed a natural antibiotic. Garlic is known for its many, many health benefits and has been used since ancient history for medicinal and medical purposes. Most of garlic’s health benefits stem from a sulphur compound called “allacin”. Allacin is available (briefly) in garlic when it is freshly crushed or cut. Allacin, specifically, lowers your blood pressure and thereby protects your heart and blood vessels. In addition, garlic is also great at lowering your “bad” cholesterol levels and protecting you against the common cold due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties. Try the garlic in these Sticky Mushroom Walnut Tacos.
Unfortunately, eggs were given a particularly bad rep in the ’90s. Luckily, those days are over. Eggs are an absolute powerhouse in terms of nutrition and contain an abundance in terms of minerals and nutrients. Eggs are also a complete – and really good – source of protein. They contain the antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein, both of which are supportive of great vision and keeping your eyes healthy. In addition, they are also rich in choline, selenium, vitamins A and D, iron and phospheros. All of those are important micronutrients that help our cells to function optimally. Why not make this Easy Green Shakshuka with Pesto for your next brunch?
Good, quality green tea has an amazing range of health benefits (next to being absolutely delicious). Green tea is rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant. Polyphenols are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as potential anti-cancerous properties. In addition, green tea also contains catechins an antioxidant that, amongst others, prevents cell damage. In test-tube studies, catechins have also been shown decrease Alzheimer’s disease. But more research needs to go into this testing. Last but not least, green tea also contains smaller amounts of caffeine than coffee and therefore my boost brain function without overstimulating. Have green tea with these Green Tea Matcha Energy Bites.
A great source of fiber, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals. I absolute love legumes. Legumes can include beans, lentils, peas, and alfalfa. They are a great source of several B-vitamins. Legumes are great for your blood pressure, overall cholesterol levels, and may support you in managing type 2 diabetes. Due to all the fiber, it also helps in not spiking your blood sugar levels. Try this delicious Easiest Yummy Chickpea Salad recipe.
One of my favorite, delicious oils!! Olive oil has so many health benefits, it is almost unreal. Olive oil is stock-full of a monounsaturated fat called “oleic acid”. Oleic acid reduces inflammation and may help to protect against certain types of cancer. In addition, olive oil contains a range of antioxidants, including vitamin E (vitamin E acts as a vitamin and antioxidant simultaneously). These antioxidants are highly anti-inflammatory, and ensure that your blood cholesterol levels do not oxidize, which has a direct positive effect on your heart health. When buying olive oil, choose extra virgin. This ensures that is has been cold pressed and a lot of the benefits from the oil have not been subjected to heat treatment. Use good, quality olive oil with my Peach and Tomato Bruschetta, for example.
Berries are a nutritional powerhouse! They tend to be super high in vitamin C, but also contain a range of antioxidants. In fact, berries are the fruits with the highest antioxidant content amongst all fruits (next to pomegranates). Studies show that they lower oxidative stress tremendously. The lowering of oxidative stress also has a direct effect in protecting us from disease. Initial studies also show that berries support blood sugar balance, and help to increase insulin sensitivity. Last but not least, berries are stock-full of soluble fiber. Fiber is so, so important for our gut health and I truly believe that we will continue to see more and more research than what we are currently seeing in this field supporting the already existing evidence. So, why not make the most of the power of berries (can also be frozen) with these Chocolate Raspberry Overnight Oats.
What are cruciferous vegetables you might be asking? They are everything from broccoli to Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and bok choy amongst others. Cruciferous vegetables are packed with nutrients! They contain vitamin C, K, A, and folate. They are also rich in fiber, which – as discussed above – has many health benefits, including easier elimination and providing feeding ground for the good-gut bacteria in your gut. Next to a range of antioxidants, cruciferous vegetables also contain something called “glucoinsulates”. This is especially present in the green vegetable kind and provides us with the slightly bitter taste. Glucoinsulates have anti-inflammatory benefits whilst simultaneously acting as an antioxidant. They are also likely responsible for cruciferous vegetables reducing your “bad” cholesterol levels. Try cruciferous vegetables in my Creamy Lemon Paste with Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
Ginger comes originally from Southeast Asia. It is related to turmeric and cardamom, and can be used fresh, powdered, dried, or as an oil or juice. Ginger contains gingerol, which has long been recognized for its medicinal powers. It can reduce symptoms of nausea and helps to combat both the flu and common cold. Ginger is also known as a powerful antioxidant and is highly anti-inflammatory. These Crunchy Ginger Cookies are made with both fresh and dried ginger and are absolutely delicious!!
Last but not least on this list, turmeric. As just said above, turmeric is related to ginger (among others). Turmeric also has medicinal properties and is anti-inflammatory. The curcumin found in turmeric (its active compound) acts as an antioxidant within the body and neutralizes free radicals. Curcumin is also beneficial for your heart health. Studies found that it may increase the lining of your blood vessels. Try this Golden Latte as a beautiful start into your day or as a delicious drink before bedtime.
And there you have an overview of some true superfoods. The truth is that most plants have incredible health benefits and are – what I would deem – true superfoods. There is so much goodness in nature (I have not even touched on nuts and seeds 🤪). Eating as close to nature is always a great, delicious idea.
I hope this post provided you with a few ideas and insight into what deliciousness mother earth has to offer and gave you some recipe inspiration 💕.