Superfoods and their health benefits as part of a well balanced diet
We continue our look at the top ‘superfoods’ that add nutrients and vitamins to a balanced diet with a post that takes looks at the letters H to Q. Read on to discover the ‘superfoods’ that have made our list and the health benefits they offer to a well-rounded diet.
Catch up on Part 1 (A-G) of the Superfood Series if you haven’t had a chance to see it already.
Honey is truly a ‘super’ food! You may already use it in place of sugar to add sweetness to your diet, but whether you enjoy it in drinks, cakes or on roasted vegetables, honey boasts some incredible benefits. Raw unprocessed honey contains enzymes which help to enhance your mental alertness, and it also works as a medicine too – applying it to an open wound can encourage healing. Because honey is so easily digestible it can also ease the suffering caused by diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal problems.
Iceberg lettuce is an often overlooked food as we pile our plates with more exciting salad leaves… but the lettuce contains manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and calcium – which all help to boost the immune system. Not only that, but iceberg is also said to help protect your heart health by lowering cholesterol and protect against viral infections. There have even been studies which show it fights off the harmful free radicals which cause ageing – the same as many antioxidants do.
Jalapeño peppers may add a bit of spice to your dinner, but they are also a low-fat and low-calorie snack (if you can take the heat!). The peppers provide a lot of fibre and also contain vitamins A and C which support your immune system and act as antioxidants. Jalapeño peppers are full of capsaicin – a chemical compound that produces the spicy heat associated with the peppers. Research has indicated that eating capsaicin-rich foods may prevent type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, lessen migraines and arthritis symptoms and help with inflammation and sinus congestion.
Kale is another nutritional powerhouse with antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. Kale also boasts one of the highest levels of absorption of free radicals. So not only does it keep you healthy and prevent cell damage but it also keeps your skin looking young by guarding against collagen destroying enzymes. BULK POWDERS™ Kale Powder is over 12 times more concentrated than kale you would find on supermarket shelves, so it’s a great way to pack your diet with this superfood. If you can’t stomach the taste, add a scoop into a shake.
A vegetarian staple, lentils are packed with protein, folate, iron, potassium, and antioxidants. But anyone can benefit from the resistant starch found in lentils, a healthy carb that can aid fat burning and has metabolism boosting properties. A slow releasing protein source which is full of fibre, lentils help to keep you fuller for longer and can aid in a weight-loss diet. They’re also low GI. Lentils have more than 3 x the amount of fibre found in a bowl of bran flakes, and, gram for gram, more protein than beef.
Mackerel is an oily fish, which means that it contains Omega 3 alongside some healthy fats and protein. Although less popular than salmon, mackerel actually contains more than 4 x the amount of vitamin B12 found in salmon. In fact, in a food top trumps game you’d be hard pushed to beat mackerel – it has almost as much iron as found in a steak, more potassium than a banana and triple the selenium (an antioxidant mineral) found in a chicken breast.
From hazelnuts and cashew nuts to brazil nuts, pistachios and almonds, we’re nuts about nuts! Different types of nuts contain their own special health benefits, but on a wider scale, nuts are rich in nutrients, protein and healthy fats. We’d recommend a tub of our natural peanut butter to anyone looking to introduce nuts into their diet, or if you’re looking for a tasty, healthy and low fat snack then keep a bag of walnut halves in a desk drawer to snack on through your working day. Why not add them to your evening meal too? A handful of nuts thrown into a stir fry can provide extra protein, or blitzing to a chunky powder is a great way to ‘breadcrumb’ meat on a carb free diet.
Not just for those who have high cholesterol (although the soluble fibre found in wholegrain oats will lower your cholesterol), oats are also great for those who want to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Taking BULK POWDERS™ Ultra Fine Scottish Oats at breakfast will keep you going all day, and the high fibre levels not only lower cholesterol but also help with digestive health.
Peppers (also known as bell peppers) are one of the most versatile vegetables. Adaptable enough that you can add them to pretty much any meal, they taste delicious either raw or grilled. Red peppers in particular are incredibly good for your immune system – with one red pepper containing twice as much vitamin C as an orange. Red peppers also contain beta-carotene and lycopene, both antioxidants that have been associated with decreased risk of eye diseases. From brightening up your plate to topping you up with vitamin A, vitamin B6, folic acid and fibre, peppers are a great addition to any diet.
Quinoa are edible seeds that can be added to salads or dishes in much the same way as couscous is. To cook quinoa you need to boil it, but it can also be eaten raw in the form of sprouts – which further increases its health benefits. Quinoa is gluten free, providing a good source of carbohydrate for anyone suffering from a gluten allergy. It also has a low GI, high levels of vitamin E, vitamin B1 and iron, and is a good source of calcium and zinc. But most impressively, quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids.