Superfoods – fact or myth?
In recent years “superfoods” became the new buzzword. More and more people were looking for ways of keeping wrinkles at bay (a little longer), wanted more energy and needed something that is nutrient-dense. There are a variety of these “superfoods” on the market, however, don’t underestimate other (not listed) food and/or spices. Organic, raw foodstuff is always a wonderful option, packed with nutrients, as is free range produce as well. I am sure most of you have one / more of the superfoods at home, use it regularly and/or know about it. In today’s post I want to look at why these made the list.
One of my favourite spices has to be cinnamon. Used in baking a milk tart, or adding it to a pumpkin-dish, cinnamon has been around for a very long time and is quite versatile. Cinnamon not only lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, but also cholesterol-levels. In a study done in 2015, it was found that cinnamon reduces menstrual bleeding, pain, vomiting, nausea and systemic symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea. The bonus of using cinnamon is that there are no side effects, because it is a natural, healthy product. The anti-inflammatory activities have also been studied and it was found that, apart from treating inflammation, it can also treat age-related conditions.
Small, but nutrient-dense goji berries, can pack a punch! It contains almost 12 times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries and helps to protect the skin from UV radiation-damage. Goji berries also helps to improve the immune system’s functions and general wellbeing. It has anti-ageing and antioxidant properties, can inhibit different types of cancer and increases the quantity and quality of sperm.
In 2013 a study showed that spirulina prevents hypertension and acts as a cancer-fighting food. The study concluded that it can decrease the proliferation of experimental pancreatic cancer, thus it has a chemo-preventative role. There are a number of health benefits of spirulina, which includes preventing the build-up of plaque in the arteries and reducing blood cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides, while increasing HDL cholesterol. The jury is still out on the latter, but it is clear that spirulina is another “superfood” with hidden benefits.
A study done in 2012 showed that acai berries protect the brain cells, as well as improve cognitive and motor functions. These dark blue fruits, which thrive in the Brazilian Amazon, improves the lipid profile, blood antioxidant status and increase the serum lipid profile. In other words, it aids to keep cholesterol- and triglyceride-levels in check.
Another spice that has been around for years and used in many kitchens today, turmeric is packed with anti-inflammatory properties (thanks to the curcumin). It is far better than aspirin, ibuprofen and so forth, as it is natural, healthy and doesn’t have any side-effects (apart from a more regular tummy, at times!). Evidence shows that turmeric can also help to lower blood glucose levels and play a beneficial role in managing diabetes. It is a good idea to pair turmeric with black pepper to increase bioavailability and absorption, but do take care if you have a sensitive stomach.
Whether it is / was your grandparents or other family members who used it, bone broth is an extremely nutrient-dense, easy-to-digest foodstuff. Using every part of the animal when it is cooked, bone broth support healthy cartilage and strong bones (this is due to the collagen in the broth). Bone broth also supports a healthy gut, fights food sensitivities and support the growth of good bacteria (probiotics). Due to the collagen and amino acids supporting healthy tissue, the whole digestive function (including the colon and entire GI tract), is supported. Another health benefit is that it repairs a damaged gut lining (“leaky gut”) and, last but not least, it is a powerful detoxifying agent, as it helps the liver to get rid of toxins and improve the use of antioxidants.
Chestnuts contain antioxidants and fibre, which helps to improve heart- and gut health. Nutrients like vitamin C, vitamins B and manganese, are found in chestnuts. Research done in 2013 found that chestnut extract plays an important role in the gastric tolerance of beneficial bacteria, lactobacilli.
Gingko biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for years and years. In a 2013-study, rats were given gingko biloba for 30 days. After 30 days, the diabetes-induced symptoms were reversed. Gingko biloba is antihyperglycemic, antihyperlipidemic and contains antioxidants, which is good news for diabetics.
The benefits of using one / more of the above-mentioned “superfoods” as part of your diet, is a wonderful, natural way to help you to stay healthy. A well-balanced diet, together with exercising, is key to living a healthy life. By no means should you stop taking other supplements, especially if the food is not organic and/or free range. However, supplements and “superfoods” are not replacements for food. It is an added bonus, so to speak, to your health and well-being!