Superfoods are a term we’ve coined as foods with the most nutritional density. However more often than not, these so called superfoods are really just products of super marketing. ALL whole foods, are superfoods. Foods that have not been modified and tampered with by us wonderful “must interfere with everything” humans, have a nutrient value far beyond any other food product. Your typical ‘superfoods’ are often processed powders, which no doubt contain the vitamins and minerals they are boasting, but why not just eat the real version instead?
Here are three of my favourite ‘superfoods’. They are actual food. Foods that are not foreign, not particularly instagram worthy and can be found any place that sells food. Real food, that doesn’t need to be ordered online or bought from specialist health food stores. Real food, with real nutritional value, accessible to everyone. That’s a super food.
NUMBER ONE: EGGS
Ahhhh, eggs. The nutrient dense pockets of multivitamin goodness that our cells fell in love with at first site. First of all, I just want to clear up the cholesterol debate. For many years, egg yolks were demonised because of their cholesterol content. Cholesterol, the C word that is almost as horrifying to some as the actual C word, is actually vital to human health. It’s used to make steroid hormones like estrogen, testosterone and cortisol, which are responsible for so many functions in our body. For most people, there is no reason for us to be avoiding dietary sources of cholesterol in the form of egg yolk. In fact, studies support that eggs IMPROVE the fat profile in our blood.
One large egg contains Vitamin A, which is particularly important for eye health, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B5. It contains the minerals phosphorus, iron and selenium, and a whopping 6g of protein. Eggs are a complete source of protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids required by the body to utilise this macronutrient to support structure and repair. Eggs are the real superfood.
Can I just add - you should always TRY and buy free range, (actual free range though. Feel free to look into where your eggs are coming from, don't always trust what it says on the label), and grass fed chicken eggs. Conventional eggs are sometimes treated with antibiotics and/or hormones depending which country you're from and the chickens never see the sun. Pasture raised, free range organic eggs contain 2 x more of the nutrients available in their eggs, as well as 3 x more Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids.
NUMBER TWO: SALMON
Apart from the fact that the first bite of tender, warm, well cooked, spiced and herbed salmon is like your first sip of coffee in the morning or the warm sun on your face, the nutritive content of its pink bits is definitely something to boast about.
Salmon is a fatty fish, containing high amounts of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids. They are called Essential Fatty Acids because our body does not make them, meaning they are required in the diet. Studies show that Omega 3 Fatty Acids lower your risk of heart disease, dementia and depression. There has been an overwhelming amount of research conducted on fish and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, generally in relation to its cardiovascular benefit. However in recent years, further research has shown Omega 3 Fatty Acids are vital to childhood development, mental health, cognitive function, inflammatory diseases, polycystic ovarian syndrome, weight reduction, asthma and dermatitis. Salmon also contains Vitamin D, Magnesium and all the B Vitamins. It is HIGHLY nutritious and is advised to be consumed at least 2 times per week.
NUMBER THREE: KALE
I know, I know. You’re sick of hearing about how healthy kale is, because let’s be honest, its taste does not justify its exposure. But the nutritional data is impressive. Kale is actually superior to other dark green leafy vegetables, which is why I am mentioning it here. Not only for its mineral and vitamin content, but because it is low in oxalates - which is a substance that inhibits nutrient absorption. Take spinach, for instance. Per 100 grams it is almost just as nutrient dense as kale, however it is high in oxalates, therefore rendering it not as nutritionally available. Here’s the eyebrow raising facts on our fashionable friend Kale:
It is absolutely loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. 50 grams of uncooked kale contains 100% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C (uncooked is vital here. Vitamin C is incredibly unstable to heat - you will lose most of it, if not all, when applying any heat), 500% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K1 and 150% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A. It also contains large amounts of Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and other minerals.
Note: I didn’t like kale for a long time, until I tried and tested numerous ways to eat it. By far the tastiest way I found is to lightly fry it in some coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil. Add the juice from half a lemon, pink himalayan salt and fresh herbs. Mmmmm.
Please note, these foods are not necessarily more nutritious than any other foods, these are just three that I have chosen to highlight. I will continue to write about more highly nutritionally dense foods. Watch this space!