Acai Acai Berries are a grape-like fruit from the Acai palm, originating in South America. Acai berries are super rich in antioxidants, specifically Anthocyanin. This helps lower oxidant stress and inflammation; this enhances memory and disease resistance. It works by improving blood flow to the brain and reducing neuro-inflammation. As Anthocyanin reduces oxidative stress in the body it also helps cardiac health. Many studies have shown consumption of anthocyanins reduce in risk of heart attack. The fibre and good fats found in Acai Berries help support good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol.
Apricot Kernels There are two types of apricot kernel, the bitter apricot kernels and the sweet ones. The bitter apricot kernels have been long claimed to help with the treatment of cancer as it is high in B17, also known as Amygdalin. Amygdalin converts into hydrogen cyanide when digested in the stomach; this can cause acute toxicity and because of this, is no longer allowed to be sold. The sweet apricot kernels have a marzipan-like aftertaste. This variety of apricot kernel is high in omega 3, which promotes heart health by lowering cholesterol. It is also rich in iron which helps to reduce fatigue and tiredness. Sweet apricot kernels also have high levels of fibre, zinc, calcium, protein and even some phosphorus.
Baobab Baobab is the fruit of Africa’s ‘tree of life’. It is the only fruit in the world that dries naturally on the branch. As it naturally dries on the branch it contains no moisture so is only sold ground. Baobab is a rich source of vitamin C which boosts immune function, energy levels and healthy skin. It is also 50% fibre making it an amazing pre-biotic, promoting a healthy gut and it also has more anti-oxidants than any other fruit.
Barley Grass Barley grass is the young soft green shoots on the barley plant. It is amongst the earliest grown sweet-grass in the world and traces its history to 5000BC. Barley grass is rich in antioxidants, along with vitamin E and beta-carotene. These combined help combat problems and ailments caused by oxidative stress. Barley grass also contains zinc, copper and selenium which act as a detoxifier for the body. Eliminating substances like lead from your system, which strengthens the liver. It is also known to boost metabolic function.
Black Sesame seeds Black sesame seeds have been used in cooking for thousands of years, most commonly in Japanese and Korean cuisine. It is classed as a superfood because it has so many beneficial qualities. The first being it is high in iron and a rich source of B vitamins. Being high in fibre, Lignans and Phytosterols, it makes black sesame seeds really effective at promoting gut health and improving digestion but has also been claimed to be effective at helping to remove worms. The levels of magnesium and polyunsaturated fats also make it useful when tackling high blood pressure. That and with the calcium and zinc properties of black sesame seeds, it also promotes bone health too.
Chia seeds Chia seeds were a staple food of the Mayans and Aztecs. Its rich in antioxidants and highly nutritious with few calories. Chia seeds are a good source of protein, omega 3, fibre, magnesium, B vitamins, calcium and zinc. The calcium, magnesium and phosphorous content promote bone health. The omega 3 content makes it good for skin and hair.
Chlorella Chlorella is a single-celled Algae. It is high in vitamin b12, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper and manganese. Chlorella has been used as a detox for many years as it is claimed to bind to heavy metals in the body and flush it out naturally.
Goji berries Goji Berries, also known as wolfberries, have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Thought to help a range of ailments and promote the immune system, this combined with its anti-ageing properties make it a sought after superfood. It is a good source of vitamin A, B, C and E. With high levels of antioxidants and essential fatty acids, it reduces oxidative stress as well as boosting the immune system, supporting the nervous system and aiding anti-inflammatory pathways. •More than 20 minerals including calcium, iron and selenium •Polysaccharides – a type of complex carbohydrate which boasts some important health qualities
Guarana Guarana is a plant that originates in the Amazon. It has been used for centuries by Amazonian natives as a medicinal plant. Its therapeutic properties are still used today. Guarana extract is made by using the seeds of the guarana plant and grounding them down. They are a natural source of caffeine and are high in antioxidants, these two as a combination have multiple benefits which is what makes Guarana a superfood. Caffeine has been shown to reduce fatigue and improve focus. However if taken in large quantities or long-term it can cause anxiety, heart palpitations, headaches, insomnia and more. Antioxidants, as previously mentioned in the other superfoods, are extremely good for the body, helping eliminate free-radicals which are known to cause heart disease, cancer and aging. Antioxidants also promote heart health, aiding blood flow and preventing blood clots.
Hemp Hemp seeds are considered a superfood by a lot of people because of their nutritional value. Hemp seeds are a complete source of protein; this means they have all the essential amino acids. It is rare to find a plant that contains all the nine essential amino acids so this makes it a good addition to any diet, especially vegetarians and vegans. They are high in fatty acids, especially omega 3. Fatty acids cannot be created by the body and so must be absorbed through the diet, it is important for long-term health. Fatty acids are crucial for many reasons, some being skin and hair, cardiovascular health and preventing hypertension. Hemp is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including, Vitamin E, B vitamins, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Phosphorus and Magnesium.
Jujube Fruit Jujube Fruit, Also known as the red date, has been used for many years in Asian and Indian culture. Its health benefits range from aiding insomnia to helping digestion. Both the fruit and the seeds are rich in both types of flavonoids which help with sleep problems and anxiety. It has an overall soothing effect on the entire nervous system. The fruit is also a good source of fibre which boosts gut health and helps against constipation. Jujube fruits are also rich in iron, potassium and vitamin C, this makes it good for skin health, reducing blood pressure and helping fatigue. As with most of the superfoods on this list, Jujube fruits also contain antioxidants, which as I’ve said before, are extremely good at helping rid the body of free-radicals, which in turn, helps against heart disease, aging and other problems.
Kelp Powder Kelp can have multiple nutritious and therapeutic benefits. It is an excellent source of iodine, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium. The main reason to take Kelp powder is for its iodine content which supports the production of thyroid hormones. It is extremely popular in those that suffer with iodine deficiency or hypothyroidism. Containing over 10 amino acids, it provides a natural source of protein which helps muscle development and helps sustain you for longer. It’s good to know that if you are going to try kelp or take a kelp supplement, to make sure it is harvested from a clean, healthy source. There are known cases where kelp has been grown in contaminated water, which, because of its absorption ability makes it dangerous as it then contains Lead, Arsenic and other heavy toxic metals.
Lucuma Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit which has a Citrus and creamy flavour that is also quite sweet. It is a superfood as it has multiple health benefits. As with most superfoods, it is rich in antioxidants which have numerous benefits for your body. It is packed calcium, Beta-carotene, Zinc, Iron, B vitamins, vitamin C, and many minerals. Lucuma is also rich in fibre which regulates the digestive system. It is also known to be an excellent sweetener as it doesn’t spike the blood sugar levels in the same way cane sugar does, plus a little bit goes a very long way!
Maca The Maca plant has been used in a variety of ways for millennia; it is grown in the mountainous regions of Peru. It is harvested then dried and ground into powder, which is great to add to shakes and smoothies. It is high in certain minerals including copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc as well as some B vitamins including B3 (niacin). It is also high in iron which can give up to 10% of your daily needs in just one teaspoon! Here are some of the potential benefits; Boosting energy and endurance, especially in athletes and bodybuilders. Increasing libido and fertility as well as reducing erectile dysfunction. There are some scientific studies to show this. The B vitamins in Maca help hormone balance and boosting mood which helps against depression and anxiety. As Maca helps balance hormones, this in turn helps women going through perimenopause (the stage before menopause). Oestrogen fluctuations can cause a wide range of problematic symptoms, like hot flushes and mood swings, helping regulate and balance this will make perimenopause a little bit easier. It should be known that before taking Maca, it’s always good to check with a medical professional about drug interactions or if you have pre-existing health conditions, especially those with thyroid or hormone problems.
Moringa Powder The Moringa tree is native to Africa and Asia. It is one of the best superfoods out there in terms of nutrition. Moringa powder is made from grinding up the dried leaves, this gives it a lovely green colour and it tastes similar to spinach. Moringa powder is a rich protein source which contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is high in fibre and extremely high in antioxidants. Moringa also has vitamin A, K & E, Calcium, iron and folic acid. The iron contributes to reducing tiredness and fatigue, and along with calcium it boosts energy levels. Vitamin A & E are essential for helping the skin, protecting against ageing and keeping the skin glowing and healthy. This combined with antioxidants are amazing for fighting the effects of oxidative stress. Antioxidants are essential for protecting, repairing and preventing cell damage, minimising the ageing process of the skin in the long-term. They help counteract oxidative stress and the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage collagen causing skin dryness, fine lines, wrinkles and premature ageing. Moringa has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any foods. According to Aduna.com, it has 6x more antioxidants than goji berries.
Mulberries Dried mulberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, which helps rid the body of free radicals and aids in relieving oxidative stress. Antioxidants also helps act as a natural anti-inflammatory. They have also been used to improve blood circulation and help reduces the risk of heart disease. A single serving of mulberries contains nearly 10 percent of your recommended fibre intake. Most people consume far less than the recommended amount so snacking on dried mulberries is a great way to boost the fibre content of your diet. These delicious fruits are an ideal source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre helps control blood sugar and reduces harmful cholesterol levels, while insoluble fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system. Containing nearly the entire recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, mulberries contain even more vitamin C than oranges. Vitamin C is important for supporting the immune system, repairing tissue, and protecting vision. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant which as previously mentioned, helps the body in multiple ways. Mulberries are an unusually high source of protein. They contain 4 grams of protein per serving, which makes them a great post-workout snack. Dried mulberries are also packed full of iron and calcium. Iron fights fatigue and keeps you feeling energized as it works to carry oxygen-rich blood cells throughout the body. Calcium along with vitamin K can help prevent the risk of developing osteoporosis and also promotes bone tissue growth. Also worth mentioning that mulberries are super effective at reducing blood sugar levels, so can be dangerous for those on a sugar controlled diet and diabetics. It also causes allergic reactions in some people so be careful when you try them for the first time.
Spirulina Spirulina is a form of blue-green algae. It is typically sold in either a supplement or as a powder. It is classed as a superfood because it is packed full of vitamins A, B, C and E and containing minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Selenium and Zinc. Vitamin C and Selenium in particular are excellent as they are antioxidants. Spirulina is also an excellent source of protein, being vegan as well means it is suitable for most diets and lifestyles. Spirulina has a few cautions to be wary of; If you have a condition known as Phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid spirulina completely as it contains phenylalanine, which cannot be metabolised. Also avoid if you suffer with an autoimmune disease such as Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus. Spirulina also contains salt so those on a salt restrictive diet or high blood pressure. It’s also worth checking with a pharmacist or a medical professional if you are under 18, Pregnant, Breast feeding or taking prescription medication.
Turmeric Turmeric has to be one of the best superfoods known. It is probably the most well-known of all superfoods as well. We say turmeric as it’s the turmeric root which contains the bioactive compound known as Curcumin. It is sold as the root, ground or in supplement form. If you wanted to use this for its health benefits its more effective to take it as a supplement, as the curcumin extract has been enhanced to be more potent than the root or powder. Its also worth noting that curcumin and turmeric as a whole is not easily absorbed in the body, however, there are foods you can have to help increase absorption levels, such as black Pepper. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Now, as most of you know, inflammation is a natural bodily cycle, we use it in various ways to maintain our health, like menstrual cycle, repairing damage and fighting foreign bodies. However, if it goes on for too long it can develop into a chronic problem and can also affect areas inappropriately, this is where anti-inflammatory’s play a crucial part. Curcumin has been found to match the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs without the harsh side effects. Recently it has been found to be better than placebos in scientific studies which prove it being effective in alleviating symptoms of dementia, arthritis and other joint pain. Curcumin is also a very powerful anti-oxidant which reduces oxidative stress on the body. Not only that but curcumin goes one step further, it also increases the activity of our body’s natural anti-oxidant enzymes. Curcumin also boosts Neurotrophic Factor in the brain, which helps the neurons divide and multiply. This is beneficial as it helps against degenerative processes and reduces age-related problems in the brain as well as boosting memory and overall cognitive function. As I’ve said above, curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, that alongside other benefits makes it good at reducing the risk of heart disease. Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in heart function. One study found that it’s as effective as exercise while others have found it to help reduce the risk of heart attack and other problems after coronary bypass surgery. While curcumin might be one of the greatest superfoods known, there are a few words of caution; Ask a pharmacist or medical professional before taking any turmeric supplements, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. People with diabetes should be very careful when taking turmeric as it can reduce blood sugar levels. It can also slow blood clotting which should be avoided if you are undergoing surgery or have blood-clotting disorders. These are only a few interactions and problems that turmeric can cause or exacerbate so please, if you intend to try turmeric and are on any medications or have any health problems, please check with your doctor.