SUPERFOODS!!

If you’re like most people, you want to live a long and healthy life.   You want to have the energy and vitality to be able to do the all the things to live your life to the full. There is little doubt that what you eat directly affects the way you look, feel and live. Trying to decipher the boundless amount of nutrition information available today is sometimes hard to know what’s what and a term that is coming to our attention more often is Superfoods.    A simple definition of a super food is a food that contains a high level of essential nutrients and other compounds that may benefit your health.

So let’s take a look at a couple…

KALE

A leafy green vegetable Kale is a type of cabbage in which the central leaves do not form a head. Kale is one of the many nutritious cultivars of the Brassica oleracea family which includes broccoli, cauliflower, collard and Brussel sprouts. The nutrient packed leaves contains more than twice the level of antioxidants contained in other leafy greens, effective in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer.   These include beta-caratone, lutein and zeaxanthin which may help prevent degenerative eye diseases such as cataract, macular degeneration and glaucoma. One serving is low in calories and a good source of folate, fibre, vitamin C and the minerals manganese, potassium, copper and calcium.   To make the most of this versatile food, add it to a wide range of dishes such as soups, omelettes, salads, juices and smoothies or even crispy homemade Kale chips.

What’s in a Serving?

Cooked Kale (1cup/130g) Calories: 36 (152kJ) Protein: 2.5g Total fat: 0.5g

Saturated fat: 0.1g Carbohydrates: 7.3g Fibre: 2.6g

 

GOJI BERRIES

Goji berries come from a woody perennial plant that grow widely in China and have been used there for medicinal purposes for centuries. Goji is available as dried berries, juice extracts, food additives and dietary supplements. Dried berries are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and fibre and a good source of calcium. High levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals found in the fruit suggest that it protected against atherosclerosis and diabetes. Studies have shown daily consumption of 120ml over 30 days significantly reduced levels of free radicals in the blood which reduces possible further damage to the cells in your body. It has also been shown to reduce oxidative stress after exhaustive exercise. Add both dried berries in to baked goods, grain products and other Asian inspired dishes, as juice or just on their own!

What’s in a Serving?

Dried Goji Berries (¼ cup/28g) Calories: 112 (469kJ), Protein: 1g, Total fat: 1.6g,

Saturated fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 24g, Fibre: 3g

 

CHIA SEEDS

A member of the mint family, the chia plant was cultivated by the ancient Aztecs and was an important food crop. Native to Mexico and Guatemala these crops were used to produce oil found to be rich in omega-3 fatty acid in the form of high levels of linolenic acid (ALA). Health benefits of chia seeds have been shown to improve blood cholesterol and glucose levels.   Nutrient rich, being high in protein, fibre, omega-3, chia seeds also provide useful amounts of calcium, iron and magnesium. Chia seeds may be used in the same ways as most other seeds. They make a healthy addition to smoothies, yogurt, salads, and cereals. They are also great at absorbing liquid (up to nine times their weight) to help add bulk, texture and fibre without adding the calories.

What’s in a Serving?

Chia Seeds (28.4g/1 ounce) Calories: 138 (578kJ), Protein: 4.7g, Total fat: 8.7g,

Saturated fat: 0.9g, Carbohydrates: 12g, Fibre 9.8g.

 

Quinoa

Referred to as the “mother of all grains”, Quinoa remains a staple food in must of South America and has gained popularity in Western countries due to the high protein and nutrient content. Once unheard of in a typical Aussie diet, Quinoa is now readily available from the supermarket, health food stores and pharmacy’s and it makes a nutrient-rich substitute for virtually any grain dish. Quinoa contains a high level of nutrient and antioxidant phytochemicals such as polyphenols and flavonoids, which help to combat disease. This includes being high in vitamin B6, folate, fibre, protein, thiamine, riboflavin, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron and zinc and a good source of vitamin E, potassium and selenium. Mix up your Asian inspired meals and use it instead of rice, or try it as a hot breakfast cereal topped with generous topping of cinnamon. Quinoa is gluten free, so it is an ideal food for people with Celiac Disease.

 

What’s in a Serving?

Cooked Quinoa (1 cup/185g) Calories: 222 (931 kJ), Protein: 8.1g, Total fat: 3.6g,

Saturated fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 39.4g Fibre: 5.2g

 

 

Overall, some foods will provide more bang for your buck when it comes to their nutrient content, just be wary of overly hyped claims about individual foods and make sure to talk to an expert if you need more specific dietary advice.