Superfoods

Super foods – what you need to know!

Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods that have additional nutritional and health benefits when compared to other foods. Superfoods are packed with vitamins and minerals and other bioactive substances that can naturally improve health and either prevent or fight disease.

Many of these superfoods are from exotic countries where the natives have used them for centuries due to their medicinal or health-promoting properties. The modern world has since caught up with these traditions and through scientific investigation has been able to show what gives these superfoods their superpowers.

Super foods Health Benefits

Superfoods are plant-based foods that are generally enriched in vitamins and minerals that are essential for life. They can also be enhanced in natural antioxidants that combat the signs of ageing and can help prevent metabolic and chronic diseases that afflict humans of today.

Superfood #1 – Acerola Vitamin C

The acerola fruit (Malpighia emerginata DC.) is a type of cherry found in tropical and subtropical regions and has a remarkably high content of vitamin C. The acerola fruit is also enriched in various bioflavonoids, which are known to have potent antioxidant activity.

Vitamin C from acerola fruit provides significant benefits over more conventional vitamin C because it is enriched in bioflavonoids that not only enhance vitamin C absorption but together are highly effective at helping sustain vitality and health.

Superfood #2 – Pomegranate

The pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) has been revered across the centuries by many religions as a sacred symbol due to its potent medicinal properties. In Greek mythology it represents life, regeneration and marriage. Today, many Royal British institutions bear it on their crests.

Preparations of the pomegranate fruit juice, seed, flower and fruit skin have been used as a rich source of therapeutic compounds for a variety of gastrointestinal ailments, including: ulcers, tapeworm infection, diarrhea, and other illnesses.

More recently, studies into pomegranate show it to be enriched in antioxidants as well as other simple organic components that have been therapeutically associated to have antihypertensive, antiatherogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Superfood #3 – Spirulina

Spirulina is a freshwater blue-green algae that is enriched in trace minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium and other vital nutrients such as vitamins and essential fatty acids necessary for health. It has a high protein content with all eight essential amino acids present making it a great source of vegan-friendly protein.

Multiple clinical studies have shown that Spirulina has many therapeutic health benefits that strengthen the immune system. In addition, NASA used Spirulina as a dietary supplement for astronauts in space due to its ability to inhibit the release of histamine, which is associated with allergies, e.g. hay fever.

Superfood #4 - Chlorella

Chlorella is a freshwater green algae that is considered to be nutrient-dense with high amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Chlorella has been shown to help the immune system and boost the number of white blood cells, which can help people with cancer or HIV.

Chlorella supplements have been suggested to be a natural whole food that can assist in boosting overall health and vitality. In addition, daily supplementation with chlorella may also help individuals with chronic illnesses such as hypertension, fibromyalgia, and ulcerative colitis.

Superfood #5 – Coconut Oil

Organic natural virgin coconut oil is cold-pressed from fresh coconuts and is a pure vegan product. It is great for cooking as it has a very high oxidizing temperature and imparts only a mild coconut flavor. It is also easily digested and has high levels of health-promoting HDL cholesterol.

Coconut oil can also be used as intensely hydrating body-lotion that can help dry and chapped skin quickly recover.

Superfood #6 – Maqui Berry

Maqui berries (Aristotella chilensis) are found in central and southern Chile and have been used as a traditional therapy for diarrhea and fever. Research has shown that the Maqui berries are remarkably high in vitamins and minerals and antioxidants known as polyphenols.

The polyphenols are natural phyto-chemicals that have been shown to help relieve symptoms in degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular damage, metabolic inflammation and cancer. Recent research also suggests that the maqui berry has potential to improve lung injury after respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.

Superfood #7 – Acai Berry

The acai berry grows on the acai palms (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil and has been used by natives for centuries to increase energy levels and naturally rejuvenate overall health and vitality.

Research has shown that the acai berry has a potent hypocholesterolaemic (dangerously low cholesterol levels) activity and can significantly improve circulating cholesterol levels. However, acai berries are also known to be naturally enriched in antioxidants, which have many benefits for overall health.

Superfood #8 – Cacao

Cacao seeds come form the Theobroma cacao L. tree and were harvested by the Mayan and Aztec civilizations more than 3000 years ago. There is a rich history of humans using cacao products to help promote the healthy ageing of skin as well as in other aspects of human health and vitality.

Today, organic raw cacao is made from fermented cocoa beans and has a slightly bitter but aromatic flavor. Cacao contains numerous naturally occurring bioactive compounds that help reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with inflammation and ageing.

Superfood #9 – Baobab

The baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata L.) is found throughout Africa and is a leafy vegetable that provides an essential source of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. The baobab fruit is rich in vitamin C, B1 and B2 as well as minerals such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium and iron.

More recently, research has shown baobab extracts to be naturally enriched in antioxidant compounds known as polyphenols. These have been shown to have benefits in metabolic processes such as glucose metabolism. In fact, the baobab fruit can significantly reduce the glycemic response after the consumption of a meal.

Superfood #10 – Barley Grass

Barley grass is the young green leaves of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), which is one of the most cultivated cereal grains in the world. The young barley shoots are considered a health superfood because they are packed with a number of nutrients that are naturally beneficial to human health.

Barley grass is enriched in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins such as vitamin A and C, and minerals such as zinc, chromium, magnesium, and potassium. Together, barley grass can naturally promote better cardiovascular health through its cholesterol lowering properties.

Superfood #11 – Chia Seeds

The chia seed is from a plant (Salvia hispanica L.) that is found in South America and is part of the mint family. The seeds of this plant are enriched in protein and minerals but it is mainly cultivated and consumed because of its incredibly high content of healthy fats such as essential omega-3 fatty acids.

The essential fatty acids that are naturally found in chia seeds are a requirement for maintaining good health. Many clinical trials have shown that chia seed supplementation can naturally improve cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Superfood #12 – Moringa

Moringa oleifera Lam (Moringaceae) is a small native tree of South Asia that has a high nutritional value as well as offering multiple medicinal uses. It is traditionally used in food preparation as a vegetable as it has a high protein and vitamin content as well as being enriched in various potent antioxidant substances.

For centuries, people have used the leaves, bark, stems and roots of the Moringa oleifera plant for various health benefits. These include using Moringa oleifera as a therapy against skin infections, blood impurities, anemia, cholera, and many other illnesses.

Today, the Moringa oleifera plant is also believed to have multiple health benefits with studies showing it to contain many different bioactive compounds that have potent therapeutic uses. Therapeutic uses include heart and vascular system benefits as well as antitumor, antihypertensive, and antidiabetic properties.

Superfood #13 – Maca Root

The roots of the Maca plant (Lepidium peruvianum) are widely used as a herbal remedy in Peru for its various medicinal properties associated with menopause. A number of studies have been able to show that Maca has many plant sterols that can stimulate the endocrine system and help to maintain hormonal balance.

In particular, the Maca root can be prepared as a powder or tablet and used by menopausal women to provide a greater sense of energy and vitality. It may also help to restrict weight increases at this time.

Maca root can also have balancing effects on hormones such as progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol making it a potential substitute to hormone replacement therapy.

Who Should Use Superfoods?

Superfoods can be used

  • by everyone to boost overall health and vitality
  • to promote healthy ageing
  • to account for any dietary deficiencies
  • by athletes to improve optimal athletic performance
  • to optimize the body in the fight against disease
  • to aid in the body’s recovery from disease

Superfood Combinations

Many superfoods can be combined together to increase their health-boosting benefits. Some common superfood combinations include:

  • Spirulina, maca and barley grass can help promote lean muscle mass and increase weight loss
  • Spirulina and chia seeds together can help the digestive system as well as providing a healthy boost for better skin, hair, and nails
  • Acai berry, maqui, and pomegranate are packed with valuable nutrients and antioxidants that can help fight the signs of ageing
  • Why Take Superfoods

    Superfoods are naturally occurring supplements that optimize the human body that provide unique health benefits as well as reducing risk factors for disease or promoting recovery from disease.

    Superfoods are generally described as "super" because they are

    • enriched in vitamins and minerals e.g. acerole vitamin C
    • high in essential amino acids to promote athletic ability e.g. spirulina
    • enriched in antioxidants to improve healthy ageing e.g. baobab
    • high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids e.g. chia seed

    References

    Meissner H, Reich-Bilinska H, Mscisz A, et al. Therapeutic effects of pre-gelatinized maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) used as a non-homonal alternative to HRT in perimenopausal women – clinical pilot study. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006; 2(2): 143-159

    Schauss A, Wu X, Prior R, et al. Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae mart. (acai). J Agric Food Chem. 2006; 54(22): 8604-8610

    Anwar F, Latif S, Ashraf M, et al. Moringa oleifera: a food plant with multiple medicinal uses. Phytotherap Res. 2007; 21(1): 17-25

    AbuMweis S, Jew S, Ames N. β-glucan from barley and its lipid-lowering capacity: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010; 64(12): 1472-1480

    Karkos P, Leong S, Karkos C, et al. Spirulina in clinical practoce: evidence-based human applications. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 531053

    Merchant R, Andre C. A review of recent clinical trials of the nutritional supplement Chlorella pyrenoidosa in the treatment of fibromyalgia, hypertension, and ulcerative colitis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001; 7(3): 79-91

    Ali N, Yeap S, Ho W, et al. The promising future of chia, salvia hispanica L. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012; 2012: 171956

    Coe S, Clegg M, Armengol M, et al. The polyphenol-rich baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata L.) reduces starch digestion and glycemic response in humans. Nutr Res. 2013; 33(11): 888-896

    Zarfeshany A, Asgary S, Janvanmard S. Potential health effects of pomegranate. 2014; 3: 100

    Vergara D, Avila D, Escobar E, et al. The intake of maqui (Aristotelia chilensis) berry extract normalizes H2O2 and IL-6 concentrations in exhaled breath condensate from healthy smokers - an explorative study. Nutr J. 2015; 14: 27

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