Do nutritionists really term certain foods "superfoods"? And if so, what makes superfoods so special? Read on to discover what elevates a humble snack to one with superpowers.
Kellie Bilinski, spokesperson for the Dietician's Association of Australia, says "a superfood is simply a food that is higher in all the good nutrients, such as fibre, antioxidants, healthy fats and plenty of vitamins and minerals, and low in the bad things such as saturated fats and sugar."
Bilinski says antioxidants are one of the top things to look for in a superfood.
"There's been a lot of research into antioxidants and the influence they can have on slowing down oxidative damage in the body, and their role in the protection against certain cancers. Of course, eating one food isn't going to be a cure for cancer, but if you have a varied diet full of lots of different superfoods, your health, and your nutrition, is going to benefit."
Bilinski's top superfood picks are all easy to get at your local grocer or market, so there's no need to go ordering rare Amazonian powder for $100 a teaspoon.
Berries are a particularly potent superfood, says Bilinski, which means jazzing up your morning cereal just got healthier. Sue Heintze, an online trainer who creates nutritional plans for people with specific health targets, also lists berries as one of her top nutritional picks.
"Cranberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and cherries are full of antioxidants and fibre. They also protect against inflammation and free radicals, and some studies show that as little as half a cup of mixed berries a day improves cognition and motor performance."
Blackberries contain twice as much vitamin C as blueberries and contain a third of your daily fibre needs in just one large handful. Like all berries, they also contain antioxidants, eye-protecting lutein and bone-building manganese.
Salmon and trout
Bilinski says all fresh fish is fantastic but salmon and trout are her top picks because they are highest in the omega 3 oils and vitamin D. "Omega 3s have been proven to protect against inflammation a factor in many diseases such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer."
"There's also much research into vitamin D suggesting that it helps protect against the growth of tumours," she says.
"Beetroot is high in vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin A, iron, potassium, magnesium, fibre, and nitrates, which have been proven to aid recovery from endurance training," says Bilinski.
Nuts and seeds
Heintze and Bilinski both agree that nuts and seeds are the most portable superfoods you can add to your diet.
Heintze picks almonds as her favourite due to their high magnesium and potassium (both of which have been proven to aid concentration and muscle recovery).
Bilinski adds that walnuts are potent bearers of Omega 3s and vitamin E, and high in iron, zinc and potassium.
Green leafy vegetables
Spinach, lettuce, broccoli, beans and rocket are all packed with antioxidants, high in iron, and magnesium, says Bilinski.
Image source: jayneandd (Flickr)
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