Words by Emma Tiernan
September 12th, 2018
You often hear of exotic sounding foods being labelled as the next ‘superfood’ but what exactly does this mean and what is so super about them? Superfood is the term given to different foods that have amazing health benefits. These foods have a high concentration of certain elements that are rarely found in more common foods. Foods that are rich in antioxidants, fibre and iron are almost always classified as a superfood. Though ‘superfood’ is not a medical term and is not used by health professionals, there is no denying the benefits some of these foods can have on your body. From increasing your energy levels to improving skin health and digestive health, adding superfood supplements into your diet can give your body a helping hand. Discover which ones are right for you below.
Açai is one of the OG superfoods. One of the most popular ways you see açai incorporated into food is through smoothie bowls aptly named açai bowls. These aesthetically pleasing smoothie bowls are perfect for Instagram but açaí is so much more than a few likes. This berry, which originates in the Amazon rainforest, is packed with antioxidants surpassing all other fruits- yes, even blueberries. The higher the level of antioxidant content the better it is to lower oxidative stress in the body. According to Healthline, “Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body.” The lower the oxidative stress is in the body the slower the process of ageing is, which means açai keeps you looking younger for longer. Açai can also help fight against bad cells, as the Global Health Centre explains: “Anthocyanins and polyphenols that can be found in açai berries have strong antiproliferative properties, which means they stop bad cells from growing out of control”. This disrupts the mutation of the bad cells and destroys them before they get the chance to multiply.
Açai contains healthy fats and is packed full of fibre which contributes to a healthy digestive system and skin health; Brazilians have even been known to eat açai to achieve a healthy glow and good skin. Açai is also proven to help boost energy and make you feel less fatigued. More energy, good skin and slower ageing process? Yes, please.
Maca root is a plant that originates from Peru and is packed full of calcium, protein and essential fatty acids. The benefits of taking maca include a boost in energy, performance and endurance, improved memory and it also helps the body adapt to stress. Many athletes and bodybuilders take maca as it helps gain muscle and improve performance. Maca contains flavonoids which can help reduce anxiety and improve your mood, especially in women who are going through menopause. Maca helps balance the oestrogen levels in your body which in turn helps relieve the symptoms of menopause. It is also proven to increase the libido of both men and women especially those who are on anti-depressants.
Spirulina is a derivative of Alge (seaweed), which is what gives it that fishy smell which understandably tends to put people off it, however, mixed into smoothies or porridge you can barely taste it. This green superfood contains protein, amino acids and a high concentration of iron. It is because of this high concentration of iron (we’re talking ten times more than spinach) that taking spirulina is said to improve your energy levels as a lack of iron results in your body feeling tired and sluggish. The fatty amino acids that spirulina contains help support a healthy heart and brain which works to improve your mood and increase concentration.
Good news for all you tea lovers as matcha contains more antioxidants than any other superfood out there. Chlorophyll, which is the element that gives both green tea and matcha its colouring, is also a powerful detoxifier and helps expel bad toxins and metals from your body. As well as detoxing your body against harmful bacteria, matcha has also been proven to boost metabolism and burn calories, meaning it helps manage weight loss.
Drinking matcha tea helps to maintain energy levels throughout the day and it doesn’t raise your heart rate or blood pressure unlike coffee, therefore it is a better alternative to your morning cup of Joe to wake you up and keep you energised throughout the day. It has also been said that matcha, similar to green tea, calms your mind and helps relax your body and improve your mood.
Baobab is packed with goodness like calcium, fibre, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants. In particular, it is an amazing source of vitamin C and since your body cannot make or store vitamin C, it is important to take in foods that are rich in it. The benefit of taking vitamin C is that it keeps our immune system strong, and a strong immune system means it is easier for your body to fight against infections, diseases and illness. Vitamin C also contributes to normal energy release; it provides energy slowly throughout the day which means you don’t hit a slump like you would experience with caffeine during the day. Vitamin C is also responsible for slowing down the release of sugar into our bloodstreams which contributes to the reduction of energy spikes during the day. With the slow release of energy that Vitamin C provides it means you will have more energy throughout the day and will feel less fatigued. Not to mention Vitamin C is needed for the absorption of iron, which also helps with energy levels. So, if your morning coffee isn’t doing the trick in keeping your energy levels up, try sprinkling some Baobab powder into your morning smoothie or porridge. Baobab is also a good probiotic as it is packed with fibre- over 50% of the plant is made up of fibre which makes it an excellent supplement if you are suffering from digestive problems.
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