Need to give your body a health boost and keep lean? Forget calorie counting and crash dieting. Instead cram your diet with essential nutrients to support metabolism, balance hormones, stabilise blood sugar and boost digestion and liver function. By providing your organs and cells with the raw materials they need for optimal function you’ll feel better and improve your health long term too.
One of the easiest ways to optimally nourish your body is to include a range of superfoods. While the term “superfood” has become something of a marketing buzzword in recent years, the truth is there are certain foods that are particularly nutrient dense and provide numerous health benefits without having to eat platefuls of the stuff.
The nutrients in these foods are also synergistic – this means they work together benefiting your entire body, restoring balance and function in a way individual vitamin and mineral supplements do not. That’s the beauty of superfoods – they are packed with a vast array of plant protective nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fats and proteins that can bring about deep nourishment.
If you are new to superfoods then here is a selection of a few of my favourites. If you want to try some for free then enter our Gourmet Spirulina competition too for a chance to win a goody bag of delicious products.
Common and exotic varieties of mushrooms are one of the simplest and most effective ways to support your immune health. Long-chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha- and beta-glucan molecules have been studied for their ability to fight cancer and lower inflammation. Some like reishi, cordyceps and chaga are known for their longevity boosting properties and used to boost strength and endurance as well as fight viruses and infections. Reishi for example has been used for hundreds of years in ancient Chinese and oriental medicine as a powerful tonic and immune enhancer. Available as a powder they can be easily added to drinks. Read our blog on medicinal mushrooms for further details
Berries – Goji Berry & Acai Berry
There are so many wonderful super berries to try. Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, have a sensational tart, cranberry-like taste which is perfect in fruit and veggie smoothies, homemade protein bars as well as a topping for salads or stirred into yogurt. Rich in vitamin C and packed with antioxidants including carotenoids and polyphenols they have the ability to lower inflammation, support immune health and boost your healthy gut bacteria. They are also rich in amino acids and fibre which helps stabilize blood sugar and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Goji berries contain 18 amino acids, including all eight of the essential ones that your body cannot manufacture on its own. – a perfect snack to keep you fuelled and energised.
Another favourite of mine is acai berry. Acai is the fruit from an Amazonian tree with an exceptional high antioxidant score plus healthy monounsaturated fats, amino acids and a low sugar content. A real beauty berry – packed with a medley of protective and rejuvenating antioxidants, anthocyanins, polyphenols and flavonoids, like resveratrol, ferulic acid, epicatechin, and ellagic acid. These little nuggets are also rich in energy-giving B vitamins as well as a range of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, which will help support metabolism, energise and boost recovery after exercise.
One of the highest plant sources of omega 3s, Chia, or Salvia hispanica L, is a member of the mint family from Mexico and South America. Chia has been enjoyed for centuries by ancient cultures throughout Central America as a food and medicine. Known as ‘the running food,’ chia seeds and water were the main ingredients that fuelled Aztec warriors in their conquests. Not only are they rich in omega 3s chia seeds pack a serious nutritional punch – high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. Just one ounce (28g) contains nearly 20% of your daily calcium needs with 4g protein and 11g fibre. One of the properties of chia seed is they are incredibly rich in soluble fibre and absorb water to form a gel when soaked. In fact, the gel is a popular replacement for eggs in vegan recipes. The gel also helps slow down the rate of digestion meaning it’s a dieter’s dream food – filling and energizing.
I am a massive fan of Spirulina. A real favourite with vegans and for good reasons. Spirulina is a form of blue-green algae that springs from warm, fresh water bodies. Known for its high protein content spirulina has been shown to encourage and support the growth of healthy bacterial flora in your gut and keep yeast overgrowth at bay. It has also been studied for its ability to support immune health and lower the risk of allergies like allergic rhinitis. Spirulina may also be helpful for improving energy and physical performance. I add it to everything – salad dressings, mayo, smoothies, homemade protein bars and bars even ice cream! One of the best brands available is gourmet spirulina not only do they taste amazing but they are a wonderful ethical company too.
Matcha Green Tea
Matcha is a vibrant green powder that’s created by stone-grinding whole green tea leaves. This means that unlike green tea, from which you only get the nutrients that infuse out of the leaves into the water – with matcha, you get everything. What this means is that 1 cup of matcha green tea contains 137 times the amount of the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) than a cup of other commercially available green teas. If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, then you definitely need to include matcha. Studies have shown it can boost metabolism and fat burning. There are many other potential benefits of matcha including lowering inflammation, protection against certain cancers and improve mood, focus and concentration. Even ½ -1tsp daily of matcha green can have tremendous benefits – so try it in recipes, hot or cold drinks and smoothies. I love it stirred into coconut yogurt and kefir and its fabulous in my Paleo matcha muffins – one of the great recipes in my Gut Health Diet.
The unprocessed form of chocolate has many fabulous health benefits. One of the most antioxidant rich foods it also provides plenty of minerals including magnesium which is essential for muscle and nerve function, energy production and relieving symptoms of PMS. It also contains useful levels of iron and calcium. Lastly it contains several phytochemicals that support mood elevating brain chemistry boosting our mood. Delicious in warm and cold drinks or added to both sweet and savoury dishes. Try making your own raw chocolates