Super Foods and other confusing nutritional terms!

Recently, the term “super foods” has become to nutritionists what “functional training” has become to personal trainers.  But what does it actually mean and what are the some super foods in our diets?

Super food – a term used to describe a food high in phytonutrient content and considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being.  There has been much research into the link between nutrition and disease prevention and some foods stack up better than others.

In this day and age we are spoiled with choice and lack time so we often pick up the first shiny packet in front of us that looks appealing so that we can get us back to our busy lives with minimal disruption.  This often leads to a high calorie snack which is not necessarily rich in nutrients.  On the contrary the key is to find a nutritionally dense food that is not packed with calories. The good news is that this often requires no packaging at all.

For example blueberries are considered a “super fruit” as they contain significant amounts of antioxidants, anthocyanins, vitamin C,  manganese and dietary fibre.

Here are a few handy super foods that you can have within an arms reach of your computer, steering wheel or wherever you take residence during your busy day to enjoy the benefit of convenient natural nutrition.

Bowl of Oats

Not only do oats have a low GI (they provide you with sustained energy for longer), they contain beta glucan.  Beta glucan is a soluble fibre that helps to lower our absorption of the bad type of cholesterol known as LDL (low density lipoprotein) and is therefore protective to our hearts.  Yes a bowl of oats doesn’t sound too exciting.

add cinnamon, honey and low fat milk or soy

add a teaspoon of ground LSA (ground Linseed, Sunflower and Almond) mix, grated apple & pear

add sultanas, sunflower seeds and chia seeds

A handful of Berries

Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants that help to protect our cells from damage.  They are also rich in vitamin C and fibre.

A bowl of grape tomatoes

The best source of lycopene in our diets.  Lycopene is a strong anti-oxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of numerous types of cancer and help protect our bodies against infection.  They are a great Vitamin C boost and supply B vitamins such as folate which is important for women of childbearing age for protection against neural birth defects. They are also a good source of potassium and low in calories with about 9 calories per handful.

A Handful of Almonds

I have already stated the benefits of almonds in previous posts however to add on to this. They will assist in lowering the bad types of cholesterol known as LDL (low density lipoprotein).  Good source of Vitamin E and the minerals magnesium, zinc and potassium.

1/2 a Grapefruit

Whilst I mocked the grapefruit diet and detox in one of my first posts as a food and part of a balanced diet the grapefruit should not be dismissed.  One of the richest sources of vitamin C,  grapefruits are also over 85% water which makes them ideal for hydration.  Given that you are eating the fruit, it is low in calories and high in fibre which makes them a great addition to your arms reach super food.

1/2 punnet of Strawberries

Half a cup of strawberries (125gm) will provide more than a full days worth (55mg) of vitamin C.  They are full of antioxidants and also provide you with fibre and folate.

Some terms simplified:

Macronutrient: a nutrient that we require in large quantity and supply the body with calories for energy.  Macronutrients supply the body with calories for energy.

Micronutrients: required in smaller doses and are a key factor in various physiological functions within our bodies.  Our bodes cannot produce these compounds so we must consume them. They include Vitamins and Minerals.

Catherine Saxelby’s Top 20 Super Foods

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