There are no such things are “superfoods” -it was a marketing term that somebody came up with to sell an abundance of food. They coined the phrase, and everybody has since told us that everything from black pudding to coconut oil is a superfood. There is often flimsy evidence to suggest that these foods are actually really any good at all. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand what is “good for us” and what we should avoid. The tables seem to turn every time a “New Study” comes out. I’m going to make things simple for you. There are certain staple foods that we should be consuming on a daily basis which have demonstrated a very credible effect on our health.
These are the daily habits we must build over the longer course of time which have the most impact. I spend so much of my time reading and assessing research, looking at publications and journals and standing on the shoulders of giants in the Nutrition World so I can safely stand by any of these foods. For this particular article I must credit Dr. Michael Greger and commend his research around preventative Nutrition and science.
- Leafy Greens
These top all the lists! Leafy greens pack the biggest nutritional punch for the least amount of energy. That’s one reason silverback gorillas are vegetarians who live off leafy greens and are pound for pound 9 times stronger than humans! In terms of health and performance, they are high in Iron -essential for haemoglobin production for exercise and muscle building. They are high in Vitamin K for arteries and bone health. They are also rich in Vitamin C which is crucial for those who exercise a lot. They contain a host of other vitamins and minerals which supercharge our bodies and health. Eat raw, daily and lightly steamed.
Dark berries like blueberries and blackcurrants are full of anthocyanins – a form of antioxidant which help with ageing and cancer prevention. Our own native blackcurrant has 10 times the vitamin C levels of the famous blueberry and is richer is many other vitamins as well. These guys pack the biggest Nutritional punch of all fruits and work really well in smoothies or breakfast bowls.
- Cruciferous Vegetables
What are cruciferous vegetables? These are anything in the cabbage family. So, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and rocket. These would top the list of cancer prevention foods but in terms of weight loss, they are very powerful. Not only does the high fibre content keep you feeling fuller for longer but they are very low in calories as well. Cruciferous vegetables also contain a chemical compound which helps balance estrogen and can affect thyroid function as well.
One of my favourite and most powerful additions to any smoothie, curry or even salad. They are now adding this spice to breakfast cereals in the morning as well. One word -Inflammation! It virtually wipes it out. Chronic low-grade inflammation automatically flips a switch in the body which turns on fat storage. Reducing and turning off inflammation also turns off the “store fat” switch. It’s a fantastic addition and also happens to drastically lower the rates of female cancers as well.
I love these because you are getting a nutritional powerhouse for a very low price. They tick a lot of boxes. Healthy fats such as Omega 3 – which is essential -that means we cannot manufacture it in the body, so we must get it from outside sources. Omega 3 also reduces inflammation. These also contain fibre and phytonutrients which protect and promote gut health. 1 tbsp. per day is enough to reduce the risk of several cancers and hit your omega 3 targets as well.
- Whole Grains
Don’t be afraid of grains or carbohydrates. You need energy to work out, work, live and get around. It’s great to have a steady flow of energy throughout the day and not just the odd manic burst from coffee and sugar followed by inevitable slumps and lethargy. Grains are your friends. Full of folate which promote brain function and energy levels, any whole grain will boost your energy. The two I would recommend -Oats -good old porridge which is so versatile and tasty and black rice! Black rice tastes and looks amazing and is packed full of antioxidants and fibre.
These are the cornerstone of nutrition for any population of people who have lived long and healthy lives. They are revered in many countries for their ability to help promote fat loss. I recommend Adzuki beans-known as the weight loss bean. They contain all essential amino acids and complex carbohydrate and regarded by many as a complete food. Don’t worry about lectins -these are completely destroyed in the cooking process.
- Fruit & Vegetables
That is a bit vague but don’t over complicate things here. Yes, there is sugar in fruit, but they are packed full of health protective compounds and fibre. Any and all fruit and vegetables will ultimately help you in your quest to look and feel better. We don’t eat half enough as 80% of Irish people are not consuming enough fibre. The global burden of disease found that the best thing we could do to live longer was eat one more piece of fruit every day.
A famous study by Harvard University found that people who ate a handful of nuts per day lived on average a year longer. The reason for this would be the healthy fats present as well as other compounds which protect health. Almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts are great. They are also very high in protein and help kill hunger cravings. Remember -not more than a handful as they are rich in calories.
Ok, it’s not a food bit it really should be prescribed for people on a daily basis. If there is one thing you should do every day, it’s move or exercise. When we exercise, everything is in balance. Feel good chemical messengers are released in the brain when we exercise. We sleep better, eat better and perform better in daily life. Get your daily dose at any Flyfit near you today!