I’ll be honest, I don’t like the term ‘superfood’. What does it mean, how does a food become listed as such, and who decides which foods are worthy of this title? A fad marketing term it may be, but nonetheless there are plenty of foods which can be considered as pretty damn super.
Celebrated for their huge array of health benefits, these so-called ‘superfoods’ are increasingly forming the foundations of our daily diet. Not only can they contribute to weight loss success but it’s also believed that they provide the body with the nutrients and nourishment needed to help you feel good.
If you’re embarking on a lifestyle revamp, wanting to improve energy levels or finally prioritising your health, make sure you don’t overlook the foods listed below. They are some of my top picks because of their ability to produce long term health benefits and help women get in shape, plus studies show they also improve the clarity of your skin, strengthen and revitalise hair and nails, provide anti-aging remedies and even combat illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
Benefits: Whilst nuts are high in fat and calories, the benefits of their nutritional content mean they shouldn’t be ignored. The ‘good fats’, predominantly monounsaturated fats help to keep our hearts healthy and reduce inflammation within the body. They’re also packed full of vitamins and minerals which keep our energy levels up and leave us feeling satiated. Also…nut butter – helloooo!
Avoid: Eating nuts that have been heavily flavoured, have lots of additives or have been roasted in oil. Enjoy them plain and in small amounts for high protein snacking. Similarly, choose nut butter that is 100% nuts avoiding those with added palm oil or sugar.
Benefits: Studies suggest that some Greek yoghurt are beneficial for burning fat and increased weight loss. This is probably because it is high in protein, but low in calories and therefore can leave you feeling full even in a calorie deficit. The high calcium content for increased bone density and effective muscular contraction and the digestive enzymes for healthy bowel movement are just other reasons to get eating!
Avoid: Be wary of low fat or Greek-style yoghurts as some are loaded with sugar (and not fruit sugars either).
Benefits: We always think of blueberries as being high in anti-oxidants and thus protecting us against harmful disease. However, recent studies also show they can aid muscle recovery and combat soreness after workouts. Throw a handful in your post-workout smoothie and feel assured that they can only be doing you good.
Avoid: I can’t think of any so go ahead and enjoy!
Benefits: Aside from being really tasty, salmon is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids and helps to lower triglycerides for a healthier heart and reduced risk of obesity. It’s also high in protein for muscle building – like any other protein source it’s likely to aid recovery and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Avoid: Farmed salmon if possible as wild salmon has many more health benefits devoid of additives and toxins. It’s also important to check your portion sizes as the calorie content is surprising! It should be factored into your daily eating in the right portion sizes and in accordance with your goal.
Benefits: A low calorie, high volume food makes healthy eating whilst being restricted on calories much easier. It’s full of fibre, contains Vitamin C and is a (surprising) source of calcium. Broccoli and other greens such as spirulina are a very good addition to your diet if you are vegan or consume minimal dairy because they contain calcium and also help to bump up a limited protein intake.
Avoid: Only if you struggle to digest cruciferous vegetables. If you are producing lots of gas after consuming certain vegetables then cut them out and find the ones that don’t cause gastric distress.
More recently, they’re a very trendy staple on the brunch menu but they’ve always been a super healthy addition to your diet. Like nuts they are made up of mainly monounsaturated fats which will help to maintain a healthy blood lipid profile, but as they also contain a good vitamin E and magnesium content, you can also reap the beauty boosting benefits of healthier skin, hair and nails. Add them to your savoury or sweet dishes – they might be a side to your eggs, a homemade guacamole or blended into chocolate puddings, mousses or baked goods (yes, really!).
Like the other high fat foods listed above, avocados are high in calories. A little portion control is needed to make sure you’re not overeating. Make sure you pick the ripe ones off the shelf – you’ll know they’re good if they are slightly soft under pressure, or peel off the cap (where the avocado once met the stem of the tree) and if it is yellow or green then the avocado is ripe and ready to eat.
Benefits: A favourite of mine for many reasons, notably their high mineral content (zinc, magnesium, calcium and iron), B vitamins, fibre and satiety. They’re a slower digesting low GI carbohydrate which are perfect fuel for long or intense gym sessions. Moreover, they are wonderfully versatile – you just have to have a browse through IG to see a mouth-watering array of porridge bowls, overnight oats, pancakes and smoothies all containing the humble oat.
Avoid: If you are bloating or find you are sensitive to gluten, look for gluten free oats or use alternatives such as rice flakes, millet flakes or quinoa.
Superfoods or not, it doesn’t really matter – these are just a small selection of my go-to foods, mostly because of their health benefits, muscle-building and recovery properties, taste, and versatility. Try and add them into your meals and make the most of these natural, single-ingredient wholefoods. If you’re unsure of how to construct a healthy eating plan using these foods or are worried about calorie counts or macronutrient splits, then get in contact and let me help you.