5 Best Superfoods You Should Be Eating
These days, superfoods are all the talk. From acai to goji – these foods seem to go just as quickly as they come.
When it comes to superfoods, we’re not huge fans of the reductionist approach – i.e. labelling a food as ‘super’ based on one isolated nutrient. Often this approach is used by clever marketing to grab our attention (and our money!), and doesn’t necessarily take the whole health impact of a food into account. Instead, we believe that a healthy diet focuses on a wide range of natural foods.
But when it comes to overall nutrient density and bioavailability, it’s hard to deny that some foods just stand out above the rest (step aside, acai!).
These foods may not be exotic or have the most sex appeal, but many have stood the ultimate test of time – having been consumed by traditional cultures for centuries or even thousands of years. By incorporating these superfoods into your diet, we promise that your body (skin, hair, teeth and nails) will be thanking you!
Here are our 5 best superfoods… dig in!
#1 Salmon & Fatty Fish
It’s more than likely you’ve heard all the hype about fish oils. In short, salmon and other fatty fish provide a rich source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Both EPA and DHA have been praised for their anti-inflammatory effects within the body, having particularly positive effects on the cardiovascular system and brain (1, 2). For this reason, they make our list of best superfoods!
Though EPA and DHA can be synthesised from plant-based sources such as walnuts and flaxseed oil, this process is often slow and inefficient – and can be affected by a number of factors including genetics and the presence of other cofactors (vitamin and mineral deficiencies will slow the process). By eating fatty fish such as salmon, we secure a reliable dose of pre-formed EPA and DHA that our bodies can use right away.
So why not just supplement with fish oil? To be honest, we’re still on-the-fence with fish oil. This is mainly because these delicate fatty acids are prone to oxidation and rancidity if stored improperly or for long periods of time. It’s also important to consider that inflammation (to some extent) is a necessary bodily process, and unnaturally high doses of fish oil may not be ideal. At the end of the day, we believe in eating whole foods where possible – nature knows best!
As always, buy wild salmon whenever possible. Unlike farmed fish, wild salmon consume their natural diet and as such contain a healthier ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
Avocados lend themselves to just about any meal, and are one of our favourite fruits (yes – they’re actually a fruit!). Unlike other fruits and vegetables, avocados provide most of their energy from fats (mostly monounsaturated fats) and contain very little naturally occurring sugars. This energy profile makes avocado a perfect snack as they provide long-lasting, slow-burning energy.
What’s more, avo’s are high in fibre – up to 80% – which acts to increase satiety and aid with digestion.
Nutritionally, avocados also contain a range of beneficial phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals which make them one of nature’s best superfoods. In particular, avocado is rich in potassium, packing 345mg in just half an avo – that’s even higher than banana! Potassium the major mineral that is used within our cells maintain fluid balance and conduct electrical signals. A common sign of low potassium is leg cramping (youch!).
Other nutrients worth mentioning include magnesium, carotenoids (lutein & zeaxanthin), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K1 and a bunch of B Vitamins (B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, biotin) (3). What’s more, the high fat content of avocado increases the bioavailability of these nutrients – meaning we can efficiently absorb all the good stuff!
Okay – it’s definitely not one of the sexiest foods, but one of the most nutrient dense for sure. Our list of best superfoods just wouldn’t be complete without liver!
Liver is an excellent source of preformed vitamin A, B vitamins (especially folic acid and B12!), bioavailable iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and much more! Liver and other organ meats have long been consumed by traditional cultures that were aware of its healing, nutrient dense properties.
Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians and Greeks consumed liver to cure night blindness, which we now known to be a result of Vitamin A deficiency (4). When we’re talking Vitamin A, it’s important to make the distinction between provitamin A found in plant foods (AKA carotenoids) and true vitamin A from animal sources. Provitamin A is a term used to describe certain carotenoids which the body can convert (through a series of complex reactions) into usable, true vitamin A.
Though a diet rich in carotenoids may provide enough vitamin A for some, this is not true for all. Each person has a varying ability to convert beta carotene to vitamin A. If you’re a poor converter – you may just need to supplement your diet with some liver!
#4 Bone Broth
Bone broth is essentially soup stock, made by boiling bones for long periods of time until they break down – just as your grandmother used to do it!
In the body, bones form a major reservoir of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur, sodium, and potassium. When we boil bones we extract these minerals, along with cartilage, collagen, elastin and chondroitin. These minerals are vital for building strong healthy bones, and collagen and elastin are involved in maintaining beautiful, supple skin. Collagen and elastin are also an important part of any strategy to reduce cellulite!
Trying to get your daily dose of probiotics? Step away from the sugar-laden yoplait!
Sauerkraut is a made through the lactic-acid fermentation of cabbage, and like all fermented foods, is a fantastic source of probiotics. In particular, sauerkraut is abundant in lactobacillus, a good bacteria which promotes digestive health and enhanced immune function.
What’s more, sauerkraut conveys all the benefits of eating cabbage (a superfood in and of itself)! That is, it’s rich in glucosinolates (anti-cancer compounds), carotenoids, glutamine (feeds intestinal cells), as well as vitamins C, B6, B9, E and K.
We’d love to know – what makes your list of best superfoods?