How to … use these eight super foods

Many of us know that we should be eating more super foods, but few of us actually know how.

How to … use these eight super foods

Let us demystify these eight super foods so you can feel the benefits in no time.

Maca
Rich in: protein, magnesium, vitamin C and other important vitamins and minerals.

Maca is a radish-like root from the highlands of Peru, where it has traditionally been used as both medicine and food. Yellow maca is the most popular, but it also comes in red and black varieties, each benefiting the body differently. It is commonly dried and ground into a caramel or malt-flavoured powder.

It is an adaptogen, meaning it can adapt to the needs of different bodies. It has a balancing effect on hormones and has been proven to help manage the symptoms of PMS and to reduce blood pressure, hot flushes and night sweats in postmenopausal women.

Maca boosts energy levels and can even relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. It has also been shown to increase the levels of pituitary hormones that increase sex drive in women and increase libido in men. Red maca may help to protect against prostate cancer and black maca has been shown to increase sperm count.

Maca is easy to incorporate into your diet, from stirring it into your morning coffee, or adding it to your morning muesli, smoothies or even cookie dough.

Goji berries
Rich in: polysaccharides, trace minerals, vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants.

Goji berries are believed to have anti-aging and anti-cancer benefits. They help your immune system, kidneys, liver and eye sight. A preliminary study suggests that they may have beneficial effects on depression and anxiety.

While traditionally used in China in soups and tea, goji berries can be enjoyed in trail mixes, added to granola, muffins, in smoothies or simply sprinkled over desserts.

Chia seeds
Rich in: protein, fibre, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and omega-3

An early study suggests chia seeds may be beneficial in reducing blood pressure, depression, anxiety, inflammation and in the treatment of diabetes. The high fibre content will keep you feeling fuller between meals and the high protein content (20 per cent) provides your body with nine of the amino acids it can’t produce by itself.

Chia seeds are tiny, dry, black seeds, but you’ll have to soak them before eating. They can absorb about 10 times their weight in water, resulting in a gelatinous texture.

Spirulina
Rich in: vitamin B12, iron, nutrients, antioxidants, gamma-linoleic acid, protein and fatty acid.

Spirulina is a type of bacteria that grows in water. This may not sound particularly appetising, but it has been eaten in Mexico and Africa for centuries and can be bought as a powder from most health food stores.

Elements of spirulina are responsible for protecting your cells and DNA against free radicals. It also lowers levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides. Others claim that is boosts energy levels and may reduce the risk of cancer.

Spirulina may not be the most delicious ingredient in your cooking, as it has a savoury taste, so try blending it with honey and sweet fruits, like bananas, in a smoothie.

Coconut
Rich in: potassium, insoluble fibre and manganese.

According to mindbodygreen.com, the water from a young green coconut contains more potassium than sports drinks. It benefits your digestive system and helps keep your brain alert.

However, despite its benefits, coconut oil, which is extracted from the flesh, is high in saturated fat. One study suggested that this high intake of ‘bad’ cholesterol meant that coconut was not healthy for you.

Until this conflicting research is resolved, you may want to consume coconut, especially coconut oil, in moderate quantities. 

It is used commonly in Asian dishes, as coconut oil is good for high heat cooking, such as in a stir-fry and some curries. You can add dried and shredded coconut to breakfasts and a number of desserts.

Flaxseeds
Rich in: fibre, protein, antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6.

Flaxseeds are richer in omega-3 fatty acid ALA than any other plant-based food. It helps to manage estrogen levels in the body, helping to prevent breast cancer and alleviate menopausal symptoms. It has been shown to help with the symptoms of osteoporosis and protect against arthritis, diabetes, prostate cancer and autoimmune and neurological disorders.

Now, before you go putting flaxseeds in each and every meal of the day, it’s important to grind them first. The hull on the outside of the seed is hard, meaning your body won’t be able to digest it and get the goodness out from inside. You can either grind them yourself in a spice grinder or purchase them as flax meal from a health food store. You can add it to baked goods, bread, smoothies, cereal and desserts. Just be sure to store leftover ground flaxseed in the fridge or freezer.

Cacao powder
Rich in: antioxidants, minerals, flavonoids and insoluble fibre.

Cacao comes from the dried and fermented fruit of the cocoa tree and was once known as the ‘food of the Gods’ in ancient Maya. Interestingly, it has been shown to protect the nervous system from inflammation, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart attack and to protect the brain from age-related decline. It has been shown to increase energy levels and reduce anxiety.

Cacao can be bought from health food stores as powder and butter, both of which can be incorporated into a number of recipes and desserts.

Hemp oil
Rich in: potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, iron, omega-3 and omega-6.

Hemp seeds, hemp oil and even hemp milk can be bought online and in health food stores. It has health benefits for your brain, heart, immune system and energy levels. It has more protein in it than flaxseeds and chia seeds.

Hemp seeds can be mixed into granola, smoothies and salads. Hemp oil is an easy addition to cups of coffee, smoothies, baked goods and homemade dips.

Do you use any of these super foods? Do you swear by the benefits? Do you regularly use any other super foods apart from those listed here?

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    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.





    COMMENTS

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    Golden Oldie
    27th Oct 2019
    11:11am
    Why do you post a photo of blueberries in an article claiming 8 superfoods, when blueberries don't even get a mention?
    godfree
    27th Oct 2019
    11:59am
    It would be nice if u could source your material with evidence based studies.
    musicveg
    27th Oct 2019
    2:09pm
    There is a lot of evidence for some of the things listed,just need to do your own research.
    Maggie
    27th Oct 2019
    1:12pm
    Here we go again! What a load of hogwash. There was a day when the West had never heard of some of the exotic "super" foods we are encouraged to empty our pockets for. However did Esquimos thrive and flourish on lichen, and seal and whale meat and blubber and the berries they managed to harvest in autumn? However did the Masai in Africa manage on a bit of grain and milk and fresh blood from their cattle? I could go on.....
    We need to look at what the so called primitive people did NOT eat e.g. refined sugar, fat in large
    hydrogenated quantities , huge quantities of salt, loads of preservatives and artificial colouring and just far far more of everything than our bodies need.
    musicveg
    27th Oct 2019
    2:08pm
    Inuits (Eskimos as you call them) die early from heart disease, they may survive but surviving and being healthy without disease is another thing. I agree that we should not be eating packaged highly processed foods though.
    Agnomen
    27th Oct 2019
    2:13pm
    The lack of respected analysis makes this article meaningless. I particularly lost it with the following line - “One study suggested that this high intake of ‘bad’ cholesterol meant that coconut was not healthy for you.“
    The is no cholesterol in coconut oil. The human body may make ’bad’ cholesterol from fatty acids in coconut oil is what should have been clearly reported.
    musicveg
    27th Oct 2019
    2:18pm
    Yes they always say that about coconut oil it is the only oil that does not go rancid, I wonder why? All other oils are rancid unless you have them straight from when they are first processed or soon after there is no nutritional benefits.
    KSS
    27th Oct 2019
    2:16pm
    No one on an aged pension would be able to afford these foods. Those that are not don't need them. There are far cheaper foods that do the same job and are found at your local fruit and veg supplier. There is no such thing as a superfood. This is pure marketing spin. There are foods with high nutritional value and foods without. Eat mainly the former and few of the latter and you will be just fine.
    musicveg
    27th Oct 2019
    2:20pm
    I agree they can expensive and there is a lot of alternative as long as you get your fruit and veg as fresh as possible, preferable home grown or from the markets. Even weeds have more nutrition and are very high in many nutrients, and you can get them for free, have a dandelion flower or nasturtium leave or flower.
    musicveg
    27th Oct 2019
    2:17pm
    My superfoods list:
    Fresh organic fruit and veggies, any of them they all have high nutrition, especially dark green raw leafy greens.
    Wholegrains
    Nuts and seeds, preferably activated and not roasted or salted.
    No processed or at least only minimal processed foods. Anything in a packet is already 'dead food'.
    My favorite superfoods:
    Sweet potato, white potato, raw spinach and rocket, salad mix lettuce, carrots, quinoa, buckwheat, ginger, turmeric, parsley, oregano, basil (when I can get it in summer usually), almonds, pepitas and sunflower seeds all activated overnight then dehydrated, banana's, berries (I buy Macro organic frozen ones), papaya, apples, and I do not use any oil except a tiny bit of coconut oil and of course no animal products for me. I do occasionally have coconut, chia and flax seeds which I add to other things. I will not use maca, hemp oil, cacoa or goji berries.
    Maggie
    27th Oct 2019
    2:58pm
    I am pretty sure that the Inuit life expectancy has dropped since they started smoking tobacco and drinking and living in reserves because their lands have been invaded. There have been studies into why their high intake of fat in their traditional diet didn't kill them prematurely and it has been suggested that they had/a special gene which prevented this.


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