Superfoods have gained a lot of media attention of late. But at the end of the day, should we be buying into the hype and spending serious dollars on tiny seeds and frozen blended berries? We chat to two nutritionists Justine Kajtar and Carly Slater from The Southern School of Natural Therapies to get their take on the top foods we should be eating, and what exactly a Superfood involves.
By definition a Superfood is simply a nutrient-dense food that is good for your health and wellbeing. A food that is packed with a truckload of goodness. We automatically jump to Chia Seeds, Goji Berries, and Acai Berries. While these insta-famous (famous on instagram for those playing at home) ingredients are very good for you, and are filled with nutrients, the research behind them isn’t as solid as that behind a blueberry for example.
Straight from the mouth of a nutritionist, here is a list of nutrient dense and easily accessible foods you should be eating on the regular. Superfoods by definition and easily translated into every day cooking and eating. Remember to choose organic when you can.
The avocado is a beautiful natural source of good fats. We need fats to fully absorb some nutrients so don’t skimp on them. Avocados are rich in lutein which prevents macular degeneration and they are rich in potassium and folate which can protect against birth defects and cardiovascular diseases.
How: In salads, or even as part of a sweet dessert.
These tiny berries are a great source of antioxidants and are a great anti-inflammatory. They are packed filled with vitamin C and beta-carotene, which can be protective against cancers.
How: On top of your breakfasts, in smoothies, or as a snack on their own.
Coconut oil is one of those ingredients that has crazy nutritional benefits. It’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial, it’s said to increase your metabolism, and can satisfy those sugar cravings.
How: It’s great to cook and bake with as it has a high fat content. You can also make your own chocolate with it by adding it to cacao powder and a sweetener.
Brazil nuts are another ingredient bursting with goodness. They are high in protein, selenium, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and iron among others. Selenium is said to be a great antioxidant, can help with cell immunity, prevents free radicals, can protect against some cancers and chronic diseases, while also acting as a detoxification aid.
How: Eat just a handful a day to feel the full effects.
Fermentation is a biochemical change that happens in a substance. It’s the slow decomposition process of the organic substance. It creates a whole lot of good bacteria that are good for us especially for the stomach, and in the meantime, rids the substance of certain toxins. These foods include yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, Kombucha tea, among others.
How: Sauerkraut and kimchi can be used as a vegetable side in small amounts and kombucha can be drunk just like iced tea.
Fatty fish has a high level of Omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for bone growth and development, and a healthy heart. They are also said to help prevent chronic diseases like depression, liver damage, stroke, and diabetes among others. As well as being a great source of protein, fatty fish like wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies are a wonderful source of Omega 3s.
How: Eat grilled as your protein source with salads, and vegetables.
Everyone loves chocolate. Good news, when it’s natural it’s good for you. Cacao, the unprocessed product of the cacao bean is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. It’s high in magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, potassium, vitamins A, B1, B2 and C, and can even lower blood pressure.
How: Raw cacao powder is great in smoothies, overnight oats, porridge, or can be used to make raw chocolate and other raw desserts. It’s bitter, so don’t go putting a spoonful in your mouth. We’ve tried.
This bad boy is packed with goodness. It’s filled with fibre, calcium, folate, vitamins A, E, and K, iron and carotenoids. All of these have disease-preventing properties. It’s also a great source of antioxidants.
How: Blanch it for about a minute to get the best out of it. Serve it with your favourite protein, or put in a salad with avocado.
Bone broths are broths made from bones. It’s pretty simple. Bones are available from butchers for very little cost. The nutrients in these are very easily absorbed by the body and include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and other trace minerals. It also contains material from the cartridge and tendons, which can helpful arthritis and joint pain. When cooled it creates a gelatin which is helpful for gut health by restoring the lining.
How: Bone broths are a great base for any kinds of soups you might be making and can be used like stock.
These vegetables, no surprises here, come from the sea. Nori is a great and accessible example. Nori is very rich in protein, vitamin C, and Vitamin B12, which is crucial for cognitive function and preventative in cardiovascular diseases.
How: As par of your sushi sushi, or in salads.
A day on a plate
When we asked Justine for her perfect day on a plate she said she’d start her morning with a big glass of water followed by porridge with poached fruits, yoghurt, and fresh raspberries. Lunch would be a serving of protein and a salad mixing in a hearty dose of greens and a side of fermented vegetables. Snacks throughout the day would be nuts, brazil nuts are a prefect choice. Bananas are also a great snack on the go. Dinner sees a fresh oily fish served with starchy vegetables like sweet potato and another large serving of greens, getting your dose of broccoli, kale, or chard. If you’re looking for an after dinner treat, Justine reaches for a warm cup of cacao, milk of your choice, honey, cinnamon, and topped up with hot water. A nutritionist approved hot chocolate sounds pretty good to us.
See you in the organic produce aisles.
The Southern School of Natural Therapies run short courses as well as full degrees in Nutrition. Check out there website for more information on upcoming courses, and degrees offered.