In the past few years ‘Superfood’ has crept into our food-and-fitness parlance. One hears this term all the time. Why ‘super’, I ask? Does it bestow one with ‘super’ powers ?
And they are easy to consume every day.
The dictionary loosely defines superfood as a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Although there is no scientific definition, any food that is high on nutrients can be thus classified viz salmon, broccoli, blueberries etc.
I had the benefit of growing up in a home where Ayurveda and natural remedies were followed. All newspaper articles pertaining to ‘properties of food – fruits and vegetables, spices etc ’ were cut, discussed and preserved. We were quizzed on the properties of apples, bananas, beetroot, brinjals, moringa, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, tea, etc.
Here’s a list of 25 ‘superfood’ items that I consume frequently, and have found them to be most useful. I would like to emphasise here that these are NOT medicines and even though some have medicinal properties, please visit a doctor when you are suffering from any ailment.
1) Ginger – The health benefits of ginger are well documented. Amongst its key properties are it helps lower cholesterol, and fight fungal infections. I drink ginger tea every evening. I have also made a powder of ginger, turmeric, black pepper and cinnamon, and I call it “ immunity powder”. I consume a spoonful daily in a cup of hot water every morning.
2) Turmeric – The new fad is turmeric latte. Turmeric has innumerable medicinal properties and health benefits including fighting inflammation, protecting the heart, fighting diabetes and cancer, is an antioxidant too. In India we put turmeric in all our food. Some studies indicate that the properties of turmeric get enhanced if consumed with ginger.
3) Black Pepper – This, too, has multiple benefits including improving digestion, providing relief in respiratory problems, antioxidant, antibacterial etc. I use black pepper in my meals – over salads, soups, vegetables.
4) Cinnamon – Amongst its chief benefits are it helps lower cancer risk and protects brain function. It is also a high source of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
This is also part of the “ immunity powder” and I consume it daily in the morning before my workout.
5) Almonds – They have extensive health benefits including for heart, brain. Almond Milk has become a rage in the West. Since I was a child we have been given almonds daily – soaked overnight in water. I have them in my bowl of nuts every morning.
Almonds have extensive health benefits including for the heart, brain.
6) Walnuts – My grandmother used to say they are in the shape of a brain and are excellent for the same. She used to give it to us during our examinations and said it will help keep our minds sharp. I have recently discovered Walnut Milk and use that in my coffee as well.
7) Chia Seeds – I was introduced to this 3 years back when I had visited Peru. Chia means strength, and Peruvian folklore says that these black and white seeds were used as an energy booster. These seeds contain omega-3 , carbohydrates, protein, fibre, antioxidants and calcium. I have it daily sprinkled over my bowl of breakfast nuts and seeds.
8) Flax Seeds – In 2007, I was introduced to these seeds as there was an illness in the family. The doctor mentioned that consumption of these seeds can help reduce cancer, lower cholesterol and help develop immunity. I used to take a spoon of flaxseed oil with curd. Now I have it daily sprinkled over my breakfast bowl of nuts and seeds.
9) Sunflower Seeds – Rich in magnesium, vitamin E and B1, known as the healthy heart seed. I have it too in my breakfast bowl. All the nuts can also be consumed with salads.
10) Pumpkin Seeds – Has a large variety of nutrients viz magnesium, protein, zinc. These seeds are also called ‘ nutritional powerhouses’, and are my favourite seeds.
11) Goji Berries – Is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory super fruit that boosts the immune system and helps fight cancer, among other properties. I have a powder that I consume daily with my breakfast bowl. As you can see , my breakfast is packed with ” super foods” – easy to eat and most delicious too.
12) Honey – Is a natural energy resource and helps counter lots of ailments. I recently discovered “ Manuka Honey”. I put honey on my breakfast bowl which is filled with all seeds and nuts and made with almond milk or walnut milk or pistachio milk.
13) Fenugreek Seeds – It not only improves digestion levels but lowers cholesterol too. We soak these seeds and get them to sprout. Consume a spoon daily before the cup of water with the “ immunity powder”.
14) Wheat Grass – A true superfood, it not only lowers toxins in the body, it can also boost your metabolism and immune system. It helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure and is known for its anti-carcinogenic properties.
15) Green Tea – I drink 4-5 cups daily, and especially after my lunch and dinner. Green tea has multiple benefits and also helps with weight loss as it increases fat burning. Its antioxidants may lower the risk of some cancers and may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
16) Lemongrass – It is beneficial for high blood pressure, kills germs and is a mild astringent. I consume it along with green tea.
17) Quinoa – Was introduced to this incredible grain in Peru three years back. It is one of the highest protein-rich foods and has more fibre than any other grain. We eat this 3-4 times a week at home as a meal, mixed with vegetables or plain as a substitute to rice.
18) Avocados – They are a good source of a number of essential vitamins and minerals viz calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. We make guacamole and eat it 4-5 times a week with dinner.
Avocados are a good source of a number of essential vitamins and minerals.
19) Amla – The Indian Gooseberry is a super fruit. It slows down ageing, fights against heart disease, and helps increase metabolism. I have Amla juice daily in the morning after my workout.
20) Garlic – Is a good source of manganese, vitamin C and vitamin B6. While it’s a popular ingredient in cooking because of its distinct flavour, garlic also has been known for its medicinal properties. Research indicates that garlic may be effective in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as supporting immune function.
21) Dates – Is a good source of fiber and also contains minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. They also contain vitamins such as vitamin A, and vitamin K. We eat 2-3 dates and after our dinner as dessert.
22) Moringa (Drumsticks) – It contains many useful compounds like vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and zinc. Multiple health benefits include protecting the liver, prevention of certain cancers, making bones healthier, treating diabetes , asthma and reducing high blood pressure. A true superfood, we have drumstick soup every evening.
23) Aloe Vera – it has digestive benefits and helps in fighting constipation. Further it provides heartburn relief and improves liver function.
24) Basil ( Tulsi) – It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help in fighting arthritis, heart disease and bowel-related conditions. We have basil leaves in our evening tea.
25) Amaranth – It is a nutritious, gluten-free grain that provides plenty of fibre, protein and micronutrients. It has also been associated with lower cholesterol levels and anti-inflammatory properties. We consume amaranth flour and also have it as a cereal.
In conclusion, it is very essential to make these food items a part of your regular diet. And you can see how simple it actually is to do.
– A seasoned banker, Radha Dhir has spent 25 years in the industry, and has also served as the first woman MD in Deutsche Bank. She has been blogging about fitness, health, nutrition and well-being since 2018. She recently made her YouTube debut on the ZipTalks channel where she interviews successful professionals on their fitness and health philosophy. She also posts regular fitness videos on Instagram @Ziptofitness.