Ten Super Foods You Should Add To Your Diet
by Emma Devi
Some food is more nourishing than other that is why its called super food - it boosts the body on many levels. Nutrient rich foods restores balance within the body, like tuning a guitar string they take you back to divine harmony and balance. Have a look at my top 10 foods to include in your diet.
1. Blanched Almonds
Almonds can be used in your cereals in the morning, in your smoothies, in your nut milks and in your desserts. But they are eaten best by way of soaking over night in water and blanching with hot water and flushed with cold then popping them out of their skins. They have a high quantity of vitamin E, which is a great antioxidant that helps protect skin cells from UV lights. Almonds are also rich in calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium. It also contains zinc, selenium, copper and niacin. Almonds contain the most nutrients in comparison to all other nuts. The health benefits from eating them on a regular basis are vast and are a valuable for all. They are good for the heart and good for the brain of young children. Prevent cancers, high blood pressure and regulates cholesterol, protects against diabetes. Their high folic acid content also makes them wonderful for pregnant ladies.
The milk from blended almonds are also mentioned in Ayurveda as a Ojas (vital energy) builder so have a handful after love making.
Living in Costa Rica I have learned that the local fruit not to be missed out in our daily diet is bananas. And, Yes it does help that they are fresh and in abundance here. Bananas have a high amount of potassium about 13 per cent of the RDA of which lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack , atherosclerosis and stroke. Potassium also prevents weakening bones, which is often the cause of high sodium intake. The food most represents Shiva and is found to nourish the nervous system and is vital to replenish the cells with electrolytes and with the formation of new cells. In Ayurveda bananas with ghee can help with diarrhea and constipation and other digestive issues such as ulcers as the banana helps to protect the stomach lining. The high B6 content also contributes to the maintenance of white blood cells and your immune system.
3. Coconut Water
Didn't think the list could get better… Well green young coconuts just walked in the room and they have more potassium than the banana! This is the water or liquid inside of them which is composed of water, sugar, amino acids, and minerals. Its an all natural sports drink which has the perfect balance of potassium and sodium, good for dehydration to balance your energy levels. The fluid has been use as intravenous in world war II as the fluid has: amino acids, enzymes, minerals (like calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc) and fatty acids, as well as being low in sodium and chlorides and being most absorbent in the blood stream.
Black, blue, red and green, these sweet and sour tasting fruits are so valuable for your health and even whilst they may be out of season you can eat them freeze dried or dehydrated. Goji berries, strawberries, blue berries, , acai berries, mulberries, bilberries, cherries and raspberries are all exception antioxidants (written in order of potency). Full of minerals it has been shown in a study by Roy Alcalay, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City that eating berries and people that snack on them reduce their risk of developing Parkinson's disease. They are low in fats and high in soluble fibre which, helps push excess cholesterol through your digestive system before it can be broken down, absorbed, and deposited along the walls of your arteries. They are also packed with compounds that help relax your blood vessels and thereby improve circulation. All berries are rich in their red to blue hues from the photochemical and flavonoids in them which may help prevent cancers and protect brain cells from damage. Cranberries and blueberries help bladder infections and high vitamin C content in strawberries boosts the immune system and strengthen connective tissue. Lets face facts any berry taste divine slightly cooked or raw, so why not! Acai berries are from Brazil and if you don't know are one of the healthiest berries along with the lesser known Indian gooseberries or amla berry. Both super rich in antioxidants and have the highest amount of vitamin C the immune boosting, energy boosting stimulators. Both berries are beneficial for oxidative damage, lowering cholesterol, aiding weight loss and promoting skin health. All berries are excellent for digestion and improve cellular protection, keeping cells strong against free radicals and cancers.
5. Green Leaf Veggies
Green, leafy vegetables provide a great variety of colors from the bluish-green of kale to the bright green of spinach. Leafy greens run the whole gamut of flavors, from sweet to bitter, from peppery to earthy. Young plants generally have small, tender leaves and a mild flavor and are easier to digest. Many mature plants have tougher leaves and stronger flavors. Collards, swiss chard, bok choy, and spinach provide a mild flavor while arugula, mizuna and mustard greens provide a peppery flavor. The main benefits of green leafy veggies is the fibre and the mineral rich anti cancer properties.
One should always choose crisp leaves with a fresh vibrant green color. Yellowing is a sign of age and indicates that the greens have gone off. Salad greens provide a whole range of important nutrients and phytochemicals which only a small amount in a week can keep us healthy. In a Swedish study it was found that eating 3 or more servings a week of green leafy vegetables significantly reduced the risk of stomach cancer. Greens in the diet should also be varied to get maximum benefits as some have toxins which may inhibit the absorption of other nutrients in the diet such as calcium.
6. Raw Carrot
Whether it be Carrot juice or carrot salad the orange wonder wands contain high vitamin A which is good for the skin and the overproduction of cells in the outer layers of skin. This means its good anti aging properties. They have a high protein content in the vegetable world. Carrots contain beta - carotene which has been linked to curing serval cancers, notably lung cancer which was found by British researchers who said that by consuming 1.7 to 2.7 mg a day would reduce the risk of lung cancer by 40 percent. Beta - carotene found in red and orange veggies lowers risk of muscular degeneration in the mature adult, improves eyesight, regulates blood and reduces risk of stroke.
Sadly for some only the DARK form of chocolate which is raw with preferably "no added sugar" packs a powerful punch. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids acting as antioxidants which reduce roughness in the skin and protect against sun damage, aging - caused by oxidation of cells. Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure so chocolate if you didn't already know is a feel good medicine. Whilst eating chocolate nitric oxide is released and balances hormones. Also chocolate releases endorphins in the brain and gives you that feeling of being in "Love". No surprise then that its good for your heart and keeping your cardiovascular system running well. It has been seen controversially as a stimulate but by adding cardamon to chocolate you decrease the stimulating effects.
8. Green tea
I have been introduced to green tea drinking without knowing all the benefits but I like the taste being an english girl "a good old cup of cha" relaxes the senses and warms the heart. So why should your next tea break be a green tea not a black tea ? They are the same except that black tea has been processed in a way that fermentation occurs where as green tea avoids it. The origins of green tea being a medicine cultivated by monks in china used by emperors as a daily elixir from being used widely used across asia as a beverage. Green teas lower you blood pressure and increase your metabolism, prevents cancers, lowers weight, diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol, Alzheimer's, tooth decay, blood pressure, depression, and skincare can all benefit from drinking green tea. As well as controlling the spreading of many diseases green tea is anti-viral and anti bacterial. Green teas are rich antioxidant brews, which releases catechins (not found in black tea). It does have proven anti cancer properties in treating skin cancer.
9. More fresh spices and herbs
These gems will add depth, divine digestion and sensual flavors to your dishes. The best way to use them for health benefits is to add a little every meal and not to over crowd a dish with too many, a little goes a long way. There are really too many spices with different benefits to list but these here but these are the top of my list :
Cinnamon is useful for those which type 2 diabetes and others trying to slow down the rate of sugar in the blood for weight loss and to lower cholesterol. It has high antioxidants and is excellent for the digestion of food by acting as a stimulant. This is a heating herb and is best used in the morning time sprinkles on fruit or yogurt.
Turmeric has been hailed one of the most powerful health beneficial substances for centuries in central asia. Its well used anti inflammatory properties help treatment of cancers, leukemia, Alzheimer's disease, tumor growths, skin conditions and used to help chemo patients to reduce side effects.
Oregano is an aromatic pungent herb used in Mediterranean and Mexican dishes, it goes well with salad dressings olive oil and tomatoes in its fresh form. And here comes the big surprise from laboratory studies “…On a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries.” They are high in antioxidants and vitamin K, manganese, iron, fiber, calcium, vitamin E and trptophan.
Ginger, is a universal healing herb used in china and India to treat illnesses and health conditions. It relieves any kind of nausea, motion sickness and morning sickness. Ginger is used to aid Arthritis by helping relieve joint inflammation also to increases flexibility in osteo- arthritis. It also helps speed up digestion and the movement of food from the stomach into the upper small intestine. So strong is the effect on digestion that it will help cure any problems such as bloating and indigestion by simple making a tea with hot water with ginger root or ginger beer. It also effective at helping remove mucus from the lungs, congestion, coughs and colds. By increasing the bodies immune system Grandmas' recipe of lemon, honey and ginger is an old favorite. Except now I eat the honey raw & instead of placing it in the tea with hot water I eat it separately, as this stops the honey from becoming toxic by heating. Migraine's can also be prevented if at the first sign you take two to three capsules or 7 slices of fresh ginger (in food if you like). It is a good source of Magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper Vitamin B6 and is a powerful antioxidant.
Most edible grains, nuts, seeds and legumes can be sprouted and eaten for health, but this requires a tricky process which requires further reading.
By sprouting the plant you are increasing the nutritive value and reducing its calorific value too. You will also be increasing the digestive enzymes which facilitates digestion and longevity. There are many sprouts I have not tried yet, and so I will mention my favorite. Alfalfa is the king of all sprouts as the name signifies in Arabic. They have all the minerals and vitamins for the human body as they are high in manganese which is important to digestion and insulin, as well as vitamins A,B,C, E and all amino acids.
Mung beans or bean sprouts are great in salads (as seen in my recipe with mango) and stir fry. Importantly they have high protein content for the amount used along with high zinc, potassium and vitamins B folate, 14mg of vitamin C (per cup), dietary fiber and insoluble cellulose.