Want to include more nutrients in your diet? Though so-called superfoods may have been named as such for marketing purposes, they do seem to deserve the title for packing an extra punch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are extremely good for you.
Check out our top 5 list of what we’d hail as affordable and widely available superfoods (in random order), and why we think they’re great to include in your diet.
Delicious on their own, and popular in breakfast cereal and smoothies, blueberries are rich in vitamins C and K, high in fibre and low in calories. These little round berries are also believed to have the highest levels of antioxidants that help to protect your cells from damage, which may lead to aging, disease and cancer. Blueberries may also help to lower your risk of heart disease and may improve brain function. Blueberries are also linked to lowering blood pressure if eaten regularly, as well as preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) in the same way as cranberries do.
Though all dark leafy greens are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, kale is one of the most nutrient-rich veggies of all. Not only does kale boast large amounts of vitamins A, C and K, but also minerals that you may not usually get enough of, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.
A member of the cabbage family, kale is also packed with antioxidants that help to fight free radicals in your body, which damage cells. Kale may also help to lower cholesterol levels, as well as reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related mucular degeneration (AMD), which both cause loss of vision. As an added bonus, kale is low in calories.
Green tea has many health benefits. It’s most notably rich in antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation and cell damage. A dominant antioxidant in green tea is a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which may help to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Though green tea has less caffeine than coffee, it may help to improve brain function. Its bioactive compounds may also reduce your risk of dementia.
It may also help to increase your metabolic rate (which helps you to lose weight), and reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and – believe it or not – bad breath.
Part of the legume family, lentils are a widely available and inexpensive way to include a variety of nutrients and fibre in your diet. They’re a great source of vitamin B, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Lentils are also a great source of iron and protein, making them a great alternative to meat.
Polyphenols, organic compounds with strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, may help to reduce your risk of cancer. Other health benefits may include reduced blood pressure and cholesterol, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and improved type 2 diabetes management.
Lentils may also help with the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and overall gut function, as well as weight management because they help you to feel full for longer.
A variety of mushrooms is widely available. They contain vitamin A, potassium and fibre, as well as several antioxidants that aren’t present in other foods, which may help to prevent certain cancers. As the only natural plant source of vitamin D, mushrooms may help to strengthen your bones.
Shiitake, a Japanese variety of mushrooms, are a good source of vitamin B, fibre and protein. They also boast compounds that may help to boost your immunity, lower cholesterol and fight cancer.
Personalised nutrition journey
While a balanced diet is always recommended as a cornerstone to optimal health, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to consider including these nutrient-packed foods in your diet for overall physical well-being.
For a personalised nutrition plan, Bestmed members need only complete their free Health Assessment (previously HRA) at any Dis-Chem, Clicks, Van Heerden or Alpha Pharm to unlock their Bestmed Tempo wellness programme benefit of three nutrition journey consultations with a network dietitian per member/dependant 18 years and older. It also unlocks the benefit of one nutritional assessment per year for the whole family.