The Blue Tree Clinic’s Nutritionist Charlotte Turner helps us decipher the world of Super Foods and how we can maximise our nutrients without minimising our bank balances.
First of all explains Charlotte “Did you know there isn’t actually an official definition of what classifies a super food it merely describes a food that is nutrient dense that’s bursting with disease fighting compounds beneficial for our health and wellbeing”
Why then you may ask am I tempted to buy chia seeds, goji berries and organic matcha green tea?
It cannot be denied that these foods are highly nutritious and packed full of antioxidants but we pay a premium for them. These heavily marketed super foods are often not abundant in the food supply, often not produced in the UK and one of the reasons we us are charged a premium in the supermarket.
There are plenty of ways we can gain these nutrients without having to succumb to the next fad product. Here are ten great nutritionally dense sources that have all the beneficial disease fighting compounds that benefit from the everyday price tag:
First of all, super foods cannot compensate for unhealthy lifestyles. Damage cannot be undone by eating a super food. The main focus for you and your family is to live a healthy lifestyle. The dietary habits I promote to my clients is that of the Mediterranean lifestyle as its proven to reduce the risk of chronic disease, reduce inflammation, reduce cholesterol and improve life expectancy. The Mediterranean diet consists of oily fish at least twice a week, large portions at each meal full of vegetables and fruits, olive oil, legumes and less meals containing red meat and refined sugars.
Top Ten Super Foods:
Eggs are the most complete source of protein that the human body digests and absorbs. A whole egg is an excellent source of B vitamins and one of the highest sources of choline which is essential for fetal development and brain health. Eggs are also packed with lutein, selenium and iodine to help regulate hormones.
Broccoli is a good source of vitamin C and folate it also contains vitamins A, K, calcium, fibre, beta-carotene and other antioxidants. It has been shown that eating more non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, are associated with a reduced risk of some cancers. An 80g serving will count towards your 5 A Day
These oily fish sources can help prevent against cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, age-related vision loss and dementia. They are a good source of vitamin D, protein, some B vitamins and selenium. It’s also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that is good for our mental and heart health. I recommend to my clients at the Blue Tree Clinic to consume at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish. The benefits include keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level and improving blood lipids, both of which reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Also if you are on a budget tinned sardines and mackerel can be eaten with a nutritious salad, this makes a quick, easy and nutritious meal.
The staple to any fruit bowl, bananas are an excellent source of potassium which has been shown to be beneficial to keeping a healthy heart and lowering blood pressure. Bananas have energy boosting effects and can reduce muscle cramps. Bananas are rich in fibre improving digestive health and rich in biotin for healthy hair, skin and nails.
Beans whether dried, frozen, tinned or fresh are great food staples. Beans are full of fibre and a good source of protein and iron. If beans are consumed with a grain then they are considered a complete protein ensuring that all the amino acids essential for health are absorbed.
Rolled oats are both high in protein, contain essential fats and are rich in minerals including zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron. Oats are packed full of b vitamins needed to enable the body to maintain high energy levels but also give us healthy skin, nails and hair and protect our nervous system. Oats are also a wonderful source of soluble fibre, essential for ensuring that our digestive systems work efficiently and this fibre has been proven to lower our blood cholesterol levels.
Avocado are packed with oleic acid, lutein, folate, vitamin E, monounsaturated fats and glutathione. These compounds can help protect your body from heart disease, cancer, and degenerative eye and brain diseases. Avocados are also brimming with potassium; B-vitamins and folic acid. Avocados are high in omega-3, which reduces the risk of heart disease and lecithin, a type of fatty acid crucial for healthy nervous tissue.
Spinach is full of phytonutrients which have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties; however, when it comes to inflammation I like to use the help from patriot health alliance instead. Spinach is also packed full of vitamin K, with the veggie containing a whopping 181% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin K in 180 grams of spinach leaves. Vitamin k is essential to bone and blood health.
Lentils a plant based protein that is great for vegetarians. Lentils are an excellent source of dietary fibre, iron and dietary folate which is especially important pre and during pregnancy in women, this is why it is important to pay attention to the early signs of pregnancy so that you start taking care of yourself a lot more from the beginning.
Greek or Natural Yoghurt
Both Greek and natural yoghurt are rich in probiotics which support the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Research has also shown if you have an imbalance of bad bacteria in your gut this can exacerbate weight gain. Yoghurt is a great source of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium all essential for our bone health, mental health and well being. I advise my clients to be wary of low fat and low sugar varieties as these can be hidden sources of sugars and calories and aim to choose natural unprocessed options.
Written by Charlotte Turner Bsc Msc Blue Tree Clinic Nutritionist, food and nutrition contributor specialising in 121 client centred nutrition programmes.