The idea of a superfood has stirred up some controversy of late—in the UK, it’s illegal to refer to any food as one. The term itself cannot be applied to any food—it is a marketing slogan just so you know—but what it can apply to, are foods that are really, really good for you!
The other thing to remember, is that superfoods aren’t just fancy berries from the Amazon rainforest put into a blender and churned into an expensive smoothie (although we LOVE those too)—they are also everyday foods grown by local farmers found at your local market. Let’s debunk the idea that superfoods are expensive, glamorous and difficult to source and show you how easy it is to incorporate them into every meal.
What Is a Superfood?
Firstly, superfoods are natural foods that contain a high concentration of nutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidants with positive health benefits. Secondly, since superfood isn’t a scientific classification, but rather a marketing term, there is no list of official superfoods—what is a superfood is open to interpretation. Also, superfoods sometimes fall into the packaged and very expensive category—the goal of this article is to keep it simple, fresh and inexpensive—we won’t send you off the beaten track looking for obscure ingredients to a strange smoothie blend!
Building a Superfood Base
Healthy diets are diverse, covering a large range of foods from these major categories: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, fats + oils, proteins and herbs. The goal is always to eat a varied and nutrient-dense range of foods at every meal. Taking into consideration health and local food availability, we’ve comprised a list of super, nutrient-dense foods available at local markets and shops on the Sunshine Coast. These foods are best served simply: at home, organic and fresh. Enjoy!
Blueberries — Kiwifruit — Avocado — Strawberries — Tomatoes — Lemons
- Blueberries: packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, also high in potassium and vitamin C, filled with fibre + anti-inflammatory.
- Kiwi: rich in vitamin C, contains folate, potassium, fibre, carotenoids, polyphenols, chlorophyll, glutathione and pectin + an unusual source of vitamin E.
- Avocado: high in fibre, folate, potassium, vitamin E, magnesium + the monounsaturated fat in avocados is oleic acid, which helps lower cholesterol.
- Strawberries: antioxidants high vitamin C, folate, and potassium
- Tomatoes: lycopene, the antioxidant phytochemical that also helps prevent heart disease + vitamins A, C, and E.
- Lemon (juice): rich source of vitamin C + flavonoids. Drink with water upon rising to flush the liver.
Broccoli — Spinach — Kale (all dark, leafy greens) — Watercress — Sweet potato — Beetroot — Pumpkin — Cauliflower — Leeks
- Broccoli: rich in ascorbic acid, calcium, fibre, folate, indoles, sulforaphane + anti-cancer, detoxifier, regulates metabolism, lowers cholesterol, protects eyes.
- Spinach: high in alpha lipoic acid, ascorbic acid, B vitamins, beta-carotene, glutathione, lutein / zeaxanthin, vitamin E + promotes healthy skin and hair.
- Kale + dark leafy greens: contain high doses of chlorophyll, easily digestible proteins, enzymes and a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
- Watercress: rich in fibre, potassium, protein, calcium, magnesium, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin A + more vitamin C than oranges.
- Sweet potato: rich in vitamins A and C, thiamine, potassium and manganese making them an excellent food choice for those suffering from arthritis or asthma.
- Beetroot: rich in the antioxidant betalains, (anti-cancer) vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, fibre, + folate.
- Pumpkin: loaded with iron, zinc, and fibre, high in vitamin C + beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin (prevent cataracts and reduce macular degeneration).
- Cauliflower: packed with vitamins C + K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium + manganese.
- Leeks: rich in vitamins A and K, folate and manganese + organosulfur compounds (phytochemicals that may carry immune-boosting benefits).
Dark leafy greens include: rocket, spinach, dandelion greens, kale, watercress, parsley, lettuce, endive, chicory, broccoli sprouts and mustard sprouts.
Nuts & Seeds
Quinoa — Almonds — Brazil nuts — Walnuts — Chia
- Quinoa: provides all nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce and it’s filled with protein! Often considered a grain, it’s a seed!
- Almonds: a good source of potassium, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron + may also help with weight loss and lowering systolic blood pressure.
- Brazil nuts: daily selenium intake in two nuts + high in protein, fiber, selenium, thiamine, copper and magnesium.
- Walnuts: contain omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, protein, magnesium, copper, folate and vitamin E.
- Chia seeds: rich in omega-3 fatty acids, high fibre + protein, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Oats (steel-cut, whole oats) — Brown rice
- Oats: packed with fibrous beta glucan (reduces cholesterol), copper, magnesium, potassium, protein, selenium, thiamine + zinc.
- Brown rice: loaded with manganese, fibre, lecithin, selenium, lignans, magnesium + high in fibre.
Eggs — Salmon (fresh + wild) — Beans + lentils — Sardines
- Eggs: loaded with high-quality proteins, with all 9 essential amino acids + iron, phosphorous, selenium and vitamins A, B12, B2 and B5.
- Salmon: rich in omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, iron, calcium, selenium and phosphorus and vitamins like A, B and D.
- Beans + lentils: packed full of protein + fibre, lentils are an outstanding source of folate and magnesium and most beans contain copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc.
- Sardines: rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as iron, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium.
Herb + Spices Superfoods
Cinnamon — Ginger — Garlic — Turmeric
- Cinnamon: with calcium, fibre, manganese, this spice can also act as an anti-inflammatory, regulate blood sugar levels and be used to treat candida infections in the gut.
- Ginger: powerful stomach calming tonic, and anti-inflammatory (gingerols, which have been shown to reduce the formation of free radical nitric oxide).
- Turmeric: rich in curcumin, it possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties and cleanses the blood.
Fats + Oils
- Coconut Oil: this medium-chain fatty acid is digested more easily and utilized in the liver where it is immediately converted into energy + speeds up metabolism.
Wheatgrass — Spirulina — Chlorella
- Wheatgrass: super alkalizing, high in enzymes, cleanses the blood + normalizes the thyroid
- Spirulina: one of the highest known complete protein sources, helps control blood sugar levels
- Chlorella: contains a complete protein profile, all the B vitamins, vitamin C and E + many minerals. Good for the immune system + reducing cholesterol.
Tea — Cocoa (raw, dark chocolate) — Honey (raw + organic) — Aloe vera
- Tea (especially green): One of the most powerful ingredients found in green tea is Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant proven to protect your DNA from cell mutation; herbal teas all have different attributes and healing abilities.
- Dark Chocolate: copper, fibre, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc and flavonols, potent antioxidants.
- Honey: the antioxidant activity stems from phenolics, peptides, organic acids and enzymes + also contains salicylic acid, minerals, alpha-tocopherol, and oligosaccharides (good for the gut).
- Aloe vera: has seventy-five healing compounds including natural steroids, antibiotic agents, amino acids, minerals and enzymes. Use as a skin moisturizer, healer for burns, cuts, bruises, acne and eczema or as a juice for the digestive tract (treat indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn and ulcers).
- Steal-cut oats, blueberries, walnuts and honey
- Quinoa porridge with strawberries, almonds and honey
- Egg omelette with spinach, kale and leeks
- Chia pudding with cinnamon + ginger
- Green smoothie: kale, watercress, lemon, kiwifruit, wheatgrass, spirulina and chlorella
Lunch + Dinner
- Kale + beetroot salad with walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts + salmon (cooked in coconut oil with garlic)
- Beans + brown rice, garlic + broccoli (cooked in coconut oil)
- Curry with turmeric, brown rice, pumpkin, cauliflower + sweet potato (cooked in coconut oil)
- Spinach, tomato + avocado salad with lentils and quinoa
- Sardines + brown rice with roasted beetroot, sweet potato and pumpkin
- Dark leafy green salads of any kind + protein are best served with every meal!
Dark chocolate, strawberries + blueberries
(This is by no means a diet or meal plan, only ideas to enhance your food choices. Before undertaking any dietary change, please consult the appropriate professionals and always make choices that are in your best interest.)