This is an extract from Natural Superfoods, written by Sasannah Blake and due to be published in July 2015.
In a culture where we are bombarded with messages about food, it’s sometimes hard to remember two simple facts: Food is your friend. And food is super! So-called ‘superfoods’ are those that contain an amazing range of compounds beneficial to good health. There’s lots of general advice such as “eat more fruit and vegetables”. Natural Superfoods takes a more targeted look at how those foods with super, health-promoting properties can affect specific areas of the body and your health.
There are a number of unusual ingredients and supplements that also deserve the superfood status. You can find most of these in health food stores, and some larger supermarkets.
Goji berries These small Himalayan berries are packed with beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as substantial quantities of B vitamins and vitamin E. They are reputed to protect against heart disease and cancer, as well as boost immunity and brain activity. Try them as a snack or scatter on cereal, porridge or fruit salads. Seaweed A plant-like organism of the algae family, there are numerous types of edible seaweed that are packed with nutrients. They are a good source of calcium, vitamin C, iodine and potent antioxidants.
Seaweed is reputed to help thyroid function, combat some cancers and may prevent inflammation that can contribute to ailments such as arthritis, celiac disease and asthma. Enjoy nori sheets wrapped around sushi, kelp in salads or simmered in miso soup, or dried seaweed flaked over rice. Be aware that too much seaweed can also cause problems, so as with every food and nutrient – balance and moderation is the key word.
Spirulina A natural algae, spirulina is usually available in powder form from health food stores. It is an excellent source of protein and iron. Rich in chlorophyll, which is reputed to boost the immune system and help detox the blood, spirulina is also a good source of B vitamins and vitamins C, D and E. Try stirring a spoonful into smoothies.
Chia seeds Native to Mexico and Guatemala these seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are also a good source of calcium, manganese and phosphorous. They are reputed to boost energy, stabilize blood sugar, aid digestion and lower cholesterol. They have very little flavour and are good sprinkled over salads. The ground form is great stirred into smoothies.
Acai Native to South America, this inch-long reddish purple berry has been touted for its antioxidant properties, which are thought to help combat diseases such as cancer and heart disease. In particular they contain the phytochemicals flavonoids and anthocyanins.
Baobab fruit Almost 50 per cent fibre for good digestion and a source of 14 vitamins and minerals, this Sub-Saharan fruit is said to be good for mood, stress, skin health and the immune system, as well as having anti-ageing properties.
Wheatgrass Usually available as small shots of fresh juice from health food stores and juice bars, this intensely flavoured juice is claimed to be the ultimate detoxer. If you’re new to wheatgrass juice, sip your shot slowly as its effects can be quite potent.
Hemp seeds Technically, these sunflower-sized seeds are actually a fruit. They are a good source of protein, essential fatty acids, disease-fighting antioxidants and minerals, including zinc, calcium and iron. Use them just as you would other seeds – in breads, sprinkled on salads, or added to muesli. There are a number of more unusual ingredients and supplements that also deserve the superfood status. You can find most of these in health food stores, and some larger supermarkets.
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Available from Nourish in July 2015