With our lives being busier than ever, it can feel impossible to find the time to research and source food options that provide us with a healthy and balanced diet. The limitless amounts of, often contradictory, information available to us and the ever-growing range of food choices to search through and inspect, make it challenging to know where to begin in the quest for optimal health!
Amongst all the nutritional ambiguity however, there are several foods that stand out due to their exceptional nutritional value and associated health benefits. While these foods alone do not necessarily guarantee a nutritionally balanced diet, adding them to your daily eating routine can provide you with a solid nutritional foundation that helps support your mental, emotional and physical health.
So here are five spectacular superfoods that are particularly easy to incorporate into your busy mornings or utilize as snacks throughout the day. You’ll also find recipe links for healthy breakfast ideas. (Also, see the winners of our Superfood category HERE)
These gloriously coloured nutritional gems are high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins (e.g., vitamin C) and minerals (e.g., potassium). They will support your digestion, boost your immunity and increase your glow! Berries may also prevent inflammation disorders and cardiovascular diseases as well as lower your risk of various cancers.
Standouts: Dried goji berries, blueberries, strawberries
Nuts and Seeds
Personally, I am nuts about nuts! These morish delights come in all shapes and sizes and are packed with protein! They are also high in fiber, essential unsaturated fats, minerals (e.g., calcium and potassium) and omega-3! Both nuts and seeds boost brain function and provide us with wide-ranging cardiovascular and metabolic benefits, such as lowering our risk of heart disease and diabetes and reducing inflammation. Despite being calorie dense they are also thought to regulate body weight and food intake and help us burn energy.
Standouts: Nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts ; Seeds: chia, hemp, flax
Recipe Inspiration: Throw together a Trail Mix or make some Super-Seed Spread.
This creamy, versatile, gut-loving lactobacillus (fancy Latin name for yoghurt) provides us with beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. Probiotics assist digestion and help maintain gut health. In addition, these good bacteria may treat or even prevent gut and digestive related disorders such as IBS, UTIs and eczema.
Standouts: Natural coconut yoghurt provides a great allergy free option
The amazing array of grassy coloured greens are low in calories, high in fiber and are a valuable source of both minerals and vitamins. The presence of calcium, iron, potassium and vast array of vitamins (e.g., A, C, K, folate) means these leafy vegetables support brain function, digestion and bone health and increase immune function. In addition, they may reduce our risk of various cancers and heart disease, as well as reduce inflammation.
Standouts: Spinach, kale
Recipe Inspiration: Add to a Super Smoothie to please even the pickiest of eaters.
Wholegrains refer to grains that are still in their natural “whole grain” state and represent the entire edible seed of the plant, without being refined or processed. Wholegrains are high in fiber, protein, vitamins (e.g., various B vitamins) and minerals such as iron and magnesium. These wholesome grains are known to help weight management by preventing overeating, as well as reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol. In addition, they may protect us against heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers.
Standouts: Oats, buckwheat, wild rice
See https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/10-superfoods-to-boost-a-healthy-diet-2018082914463 for additional ‘superfood’ information.
See https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/16/10/24673/htm for more information on the health benefits of various berries.
See https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/2/7/652/htm for more information on the health benefits of nut consumption
See https://nuthealth.org/research/ for a broad range of nut related research.
See https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Endeshaw-Abatenh/publication/326010124_health-benefits-of-probiotics/links/5b334e3ba6fdcc8506d16506/health-benefits-of-probiotics.pdf for probiotic strain specific health benefits
See https://www.phytojournal.com/archives/2020/vol9issue5/PartAI/9-5-258-155.pdf for the nutritional components of green leafy vegetables.
See Whole Grains: An Important Source of Essential Nutrients | The Whole Grains Council for nutritional comparison of wholegrains and the associated health benefits.
By Dominique Scott; @kindprogression
Nutrition & Wellness Expert, PhD in Mental Health