These days a lot of us grow up in families where a lot of attention is focused on healthy food and a natural way of life. It is now common-place for weekend mornings to include a trip to the local farmer's markets for in-season organic fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs and gluten-free bread. The bewildering choices of foods available has made it difficult to know what to eat and with some many new so-called superfoods appearing, it is becoming difficult to keep up with the reasoning and rationale behind "why exactly we should include these in our diet", especially when you thought you were eating well in the first place. What I have done in this section is to introduce you to some of these foods and explain why they are so good for you and what nutrients you will obtain from them.
Chia (Salvia hispanica) is a member of the mint family grown originally in southern Mexico and valued so highly that it was even offered to their Gods. The word chia comes from chian, meaning "oily" and the Mayan word for strength, and is an ancient staple of the Aztec diet renowned for providing energy and endurance. It has been found in ancient Spanish manuscripts that the Aztecs called these semi-tropical plants their "running food" as they could go all day on just a handful of the seeds. After the end of the Aztec civilization Chia fell into relative obscurity and it is only now, half a millennium later, that they are again being hailed as a Superfood. Chia has no known side effects and is hypoallergenic, making it a very safe and convenient means of enhancing one's daily intake of many vital nutrients with the benefits to be obtained from Chia seeds including:
Fatty acids 80-95%
Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid >58% of total fatty acids
Each gram of Chia Gold will contain 1 gram of fat, and provide at least 500 mg omega-3 fatty acids.
Vegetarian source of omega 3, 6 and 9
May assist in maintaining heart health and platelet aggregation
Kale has more bio-available Iron than beef and more bio-available Calcium than cow's milk. One cup of kale contains over 10,000 IU of Vitamin A - think eyes and eyesight and conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. The Vitamin A is found in the beta-carotene form meaning it is water-soluble and you can't over-dose on it. It also has an impressive Vitamin C content at 80mg per serving. It has an exceptionally high protein content which is why it can be referred to as the "vegetarian beef" and as such It contains all the essential amino acids that the body can't make and has to get from food, along with the nine non-essential ones. The advantage kale has over beef though is that it doesn't have to go through the extremely complex pathway in our stomach and intestines of being broken down to extract the iron and proteins that is required when digesting beef. This is also a great reason to give it to small children and the elderly who often struggle with the amount of chewing involved in breaking down meat. It was consumed by the Celtic tribes as long ago as 600BC and while it is related to the cabbage family it has a lot in common with it's cousins broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. Kale is very high in fibre making it an ideal food in my books for my "bowel cleansing" obsession! LOL. It contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, in fact it is higher in Omega 3 than Omega 6 which is almost unheard of in nature, making it a great anti-inflammatory food. The dark green chlorophyll filled leaves of Kale are also rich in Magnesium, in fact one atom of Magnesium per molecule of chlorophyll.
Why not have a go at making "Kale Chips". You are only limited by your imagination as to what topping you put on them to flavour them once you get the basics right. They are a great snack to replace packet potato chips as an after-school snack or when watching TV.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Line a baking tray with baking paper or greaseproof paper. Remove the kale leaves (make sure you get kale with curly leaves as it is less bitter) from the thick stalks of one bunch of kale and cut or tear them into bite size pieces. Wash the leaves and dry them thoroughly, preferably in a salad spinner if you have one. Place the leaves like little upside down "v's" on the lined baking tray and drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil (putting your oil in a spray bottle and spraying it over the kale is better as it is more even, prevents them going soggy, and you would probably use less of it, also resulting in less calories) all over the kale and then season with 1 teaspoon of seasoned salt (garlic, paprika, chilli, chipotle pepper) or whatever turns you on. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, rotating the tray half-way through cooking until the edges are brown but not burnt, timing is crucial as the kale will be limp if undercooked and have a "burned" taste if cooked too long, watching carefully toward the end because thirty seconds or so can make the difference between crispy and crumbly. It might take some practise but is well worth the effort once you get the hang of it. (Only make what you are going to eat in one sitting as they don't keep)
Tip: try putting a teaspoon of soy sauce in with your tablespoon of olive oil as a spray instead of seasoning with salt for a different flavour.
The acai (pronounced "ahh-sigh-ee") berry has been a staple food of Amazonian tribes for centuries. Its small, dark purple fruit which grows on the acai palm in central and South America has long been heralded for its healing, immune boosting and energising properties by the native tribes. It is only recently that acai has been recognised for its exceptional health benefits by the rest of the world and is considered a powerful super food.
Described as tasting like a blend of chocolate and berries, the acai berry is sold as a powder supplement, in capsule form, as a juice or as pulp. It is said to have 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes, twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and 10 -30 times more anthocyanins than red wine. The acai berry is also said to contain a near perfect amino acid profile, the correct balance of omega-9 and omega-6 fats, an array of vitamins and minerals and is a good source of fibre.
So why is the acai berry referred to as one of the greatest super foods? Here are a few points to consider:
- Acai is one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants help stop the formation of free radicals which cause damage to our entire body. This helps fight:
- Aging (by slowing and even reversing the effects of oxidative damage)
- Heart disease (by lowering blood cholesterol)
- Inflammation in the body
- Disease and cancer
- Acai is a rich source of medium chain fatty acids. Oleic acid (omega-9) and linoleic acid (omega-6) help reduce the bad LDL-cholesterol and raise the good HDL-cholesterol. They help strengthen the heart and reduce arterial plaque build-up and therefore help prevent heart disease. These compounds also help prevent dryness of the skin by maintaining adequate moisture levels.
- Acai contains high amounts of the antioxidant, anthocyanins. Not only is this antioxidant known for its ability to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, anthocyanins are also beneficial in improving eyesight, improving circulation, and possibly helping to reduce the risk of glaucoma or macular degeneration.
- Acai contains enzymes and co-factors such as coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant which is required for healthy cell function and cell energy. Not only does this lead to increased energy levels, coenzyme Q10 found in acai also aids food digestion, helps transport nutrients, and protects the heart and skeletal muscles from cell damage.
- Acai contains large quantities of vitamins and minerals.
- Vitamin B, B2 and B3. Important for stamina, high energy levels, quality sleep, processing amino acids and fats, absorbing nutrients as well as activating others and providing energy for fuel.
- Vitamin C and carotene. These enhance vision as well as collagen production and are important antioxidants for the immune system.
- Vitamin D and K. Vitamin K is known for its blood clotting qualities. However, it has recently been linked with aiding bone density, especially when combined with Vitamin D.
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant which protects cells from oxidation and helps rejuvenate damaged tissues.
- Calcium. Acai contains digestible calcium which contributes to bone growth and maintenance.
- Potassium. Acai contains large amounts of potassium which helps regulate blood pressure, water balance, acidity levels, electrical impulses in the heart and other muscles.
- Copper. Copper is associated with the formation of collagen and haemoglobin and aids in the integration of iron into haemoglobin.
- Manganese. Acai contains manganese which is necessary for brain and nerve function. It also aids in calcium absorption, regulating blood sugar and helps with the formation of blood clotting factors and connective tissues.
- Zinc. Zinc is vital for healing and for boosting the immune system.
Acai berry powder or pulp can be incorporated into smoothies, yoghurt, breakfast cereals or in your favourite juice.
Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wa") is an ancient seed from South America. Quinoa's origin dates back 3000 - 4000 and it was the staple food eaten by the ancient Incas. They regarded it as the "mother of all grains" due to its ability to provide them with remarkable energy, stamina and strength. Many mistake it for a whole grain, perhaps due to its ability to substitute whole grains in cooking such as rice, barley, oats etc. However, unlike whole grains, quinoa is a seed which is gluten free, high in protein, high in fibre, packed full of essential vitamins and minerals and contains the essential amino acids needed for growth and repair. Let's explore why quinoa is considered a super food!
Quinoa is a complete protein
Quinoa is not only high in protein (around 12% - 18%), it also contains the nine essential amino acids needed by the body. This makes it a complete protein which is highly beneficial for vegans and vegetarians. It is also helpful for those trying to lose weight as the high protein content leaves one feeling fuller for longer. It is low G.I. and low in calories.
Quinoa is high in fibre
Being a high fibre food can have many benefits and some of these include:
- Cleansing and eliminating toxins in the colon
- Lowering the bad LDL cholesterol
- Lowering and normalising blood sugar levels
- Promoting good digestion and preventing constipation
Quinoa is high in Iron
Iron is essential for many processes in the body. Iron not only helps maintain healthy red blood cells, it is required for haemoglobin formation, it is needed for the transportation of oxygen in the blood, it aids muscle contraction, it is involved in neurotransmitter synthesis, it helps with temperature regulation and it also prevents anaemia. Quinoa is a rich source of iron which once again is highly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans, as well as for everyone else!
Quinoa is gluten free
As quinoa is a seed, not a grain, it contains no gluten and is suitable for coeliacs (those who are allergic to gluten), those who suffer gluten intolerances, and is also a healthy alternative to white pasta, white rice and other refined and processed grains. Quinoa also comes as flour and can therefore be substituted for white flour in baking and cooking recipes.
Quinoa is high in magnesium, manganese and riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Quinoa is high in magnesium which is important for relaxing blood vessels and muscles, as well as for helping transmit nerve impulses, regulating temperature, and for the formation of healthy teeth and bones. Manganese is a powerful antioxidant found in quinoa which helps prevent damage caused by free radicals to red blood cells as well as other cells, which may in turn help reduce the process of aging. Riboflavin is highly beneficial for those who suffer from migraines, as it boosts energy metabolism in the muscle cells and in the brain and has been shown to relieve and even prevent migraines from occurring.
Quinoa is also high in other vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, folate and copper. The quinoa seeds come in red, black and white varieties. Quinoa can now be purchased in the form of flour, cake mixes, pasta and porridge/breakfast cereal. The exceptional nutritional value and health benefits associated with including quinoa in the diet make it obvious why it is such a powerful super food.
For the last 8,000 years or so the Aztecs have been cultivating the rice-like grain, though it is actually a seed, Amaranth, as both a staple food and as an important part of their religious ceremonies. One hundred grams of Amaranth contains 4% Calcium, 5% Vitamin B6 and 11% Iron as well as 7% Protein, and is very low in fat, has no sodium and contains all this for only 412kj (103 calories). Here in Australia we mainly see it sold in the ground form as a gluten-free flour (has eight times more Iron than wheat) or the puffed/popped form as a breakfast cereal.
- Complete form of vegetable protein (this is unusual)
- Easily digested
- Can be sprouted, optimum nutrients obtained after 8 -10 hours of soaking
- Great source of dietary fibre
- Rich in Minerals - Calcium, Iron, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus
- Gluten free
- Contains all essential amino acids including Lysine
Cook amaranth in the same way as you cook rice, but it won't fluff up like rice because it is a seed and not a grain, and be careful not to over-cook it as it can go quite gluey and tough. Try cooking for breakfast with a little apple juice added afterwards for a nice sweeter breakfast alternative topped with some slivered almonds. Store it in the refrigerator because as with all seeds, the oils can go rancid, and rancidity according to the latest research, is highly implicated in raised cholesterol levels.
The Maca (Lepidium Meyenii) plant grows under the ground and is related to the cabbage family, creamy coloured and radish shaped, and is an extremely hardy plant that grows at altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 metres above sea level in the Andes mountains in Peru. Because of the altitude it has to endure extremes of temperature ranging from freezing cold overnight to disgustingly hot during the day. Any plant that is able to withstand these extremes has to be strong, and it is this strength coupled with the soil that it is grown in which is full of minerals, that gives it the benefits that lead to me including it in our superfood list. For thousands of years the locals have been using the Maca root medicinally and for cooking and incorporate it in their cookies, chips tarts and drinks whereas the rest of the world, including here in Australia, imports the root powdered either loose or in capsules. Maca powder has no known side effects but it is obviously a better choice to look for a Peruvian Maca powder rather than a synthetically cultivated form which contains none of the active components.
The benefits to be achieved from consuming Maca powder include:
- High nutritional value
- High content of essential amino acids (these have to be obtained through food as body can't make them)
- High fatty acid content
- Has long-term benefits and improvement of energy and stamina in both men and women
- Increases testosterone in men increasing sperm motility and count, and improving erectile dysfunction and impotency.
- Improvement in male and female fertility
- Purported to stimulate libido and sexual performance in both men and women
- Contains 350 - 500mg Calcium/100g which is good for bones
- Alleviate menopausal symptoms by balancing hormones through glandular stimulation, relieving hot flashes, fatigue, vaginal dryness and memory loss
The Cacao trees and pods, not to be confused with Cocoa powder, dates back to the ancient Aztec civilization where they not only looked at it as a super food source but also as a form of “bartering currency” .
DIFFERENCE B/N COCOA AND Raw CACAO?
Is Cocoa and Cacao the same thing you might ask, and is it used in the same way? The first answer is yes, they are both from the seed, cocoa beans of the Theobroma cacaotree but cocoapowder is the result of the bean being highly processed and heated, resulting in all the good nutrients and associated health benefits being totally destroyed. When extracting raw cacao, the flesh and beans are scooped out of the pods and allowed to ferment for a few days before heat is applied. The heat is never allowed to exceed 40C, which is why it is referred to as “raw”, and because there is not excess heating applied, there is retention of all the important vitamin, minerals and antioxidants, thereby maximising digestion and absorption. Not only are the health benefits destroyed in cocoa powder but you will often find there has been many things such as sugar, milk fat, hydrogenated oils and artificial colourings added to it. Due to the addition of all of this “garbage” you would consider cocoa powder to be fattening whereas cacao powder actually aids in weight loss.
NUTRIENTS IN Raw CACAO
Cacao is high in antioxidants, 10 grams of flavanol antioxidants per 100grams, four times higher than Goji berries in fact. Most people believe that chocolate makes them feel good, and attribute this to it’s sugar content, but is actually because of it’s high content of the “feel good” neuro-transmitter chemicals called serotonin, dopamine, PEA and anandamide (the bliss chemical). Magnesium is the biggest mineral deficiency I see in my patients and raw cacao is rich is magnesium, making it great for heart, stress, the nervous system and muscle spasm.
Raw CACAO the SUPERFOOD
Due to the extraction method of the cacao from the pod, coupled with the health benefits and high amount of nutrients obtained from cacao it is no wonder it is considered a superfood. Use it in recipes calling for cocoa powder in the same amounts.
GREEN COFFEE BEAN
Green coffee beans are touted as a great way to lose weight. The key component in green coffee bean is Chlorogenic Acid which is a powerful natural anti-oxidant combating free-radical damage and resulting in slowing of the ageing process and improvement of muscle tone and circulation. Diabetics are known to struggle with weight which is necessary that they keep under control in order to regulate their blood sugar levels. There is an enzyme produced in the body called the G6P enzyme. It has been shown that the Chlorogenic acid found in the green coffee bean will inhibit the release of this enzyme which significantly stabilizes blood sugar levels, resulting in a person being less hungry and as a result losing weight.
· Potent fat burner
· Effective appetite suppressant
· Results seen in short amount of time
· Not dependant on exercise or dietary changes for weight loss
Date posted: 2014-02-02 | posted by: debras