SUPERFOODS don’t have to cost the earth. In fact, there are several foods that are probably already in your cupboards that can have significant health benefits.
Rhiannon Lambertregistered nutritionist and author, says that “superfoods” is a term for foods that are said to provide particular health benefits or promote well-being.
“Things like spirulina powder, açai, matcha, chia seeds, and turmeric are all labeled ‘superfoods,'” she tells Sun Health.
“While these can play a role in our adult diet, they are often more expensive than common ingredients like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and legumes, which have similar, if not greater, nutritional benefits.
“In my opinion, most foods are pretty awesome, we just need to understand nutrition.”
She adds that there are many delicious foods in our home pantry that can provide us with a wide variety of nutrients.
In fact, chances are you’re already consuming loads of superfoods without even realizing it…
Bread, the stuff of life, has been aggressively demonized in recent years.
In fact, however, whole grains or whole grain varieties contain several vitamins and minerals.
They also contain fiber, which we need for our diet.
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“You can also freeze bread to keep it fresh longer and then take it out the night before to thaw or toast before eating.
“Pair it with some canned sardines or some mushy peas for a tasty but nutritious snack,” says Rhiannon.
2. Canned sardines and salmon
“Both salmon and sardines are considered oily fish, both are high in omega-3 fatty acids and are great sources of vitamin D and calcium, especially when eaten with their bones tender,” he says Cara ShawNutritional Therapist for Women’s Health.
Omega-3 is key to supporting the health of our body’s cells and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Cara says, “Omega-3 is incredibly important for brain and heart health and is a ‘must have’ for anyone considering or already pregnant.
“Calcium and vitamin D work synergistically to support bone health and as such, canned fish would be an excellent option for anyone, particularly those going through a growth spurt (children and adolescents), the elderly or those with a family history of osteoporosis is.”
In fact, canned sardines are a great way to get more calcium into your diet when you’re avoiding dairy, and according to Cara, they’re actually a much higher source of calcium than milk.
She says, “Adults should aim for two servings of oily fish per week.”
These may include salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines.
3. Chickpeas and Beans
That can of chickpeas sitting in the back of your cupboard is actually a super handy way to add more fiber to your diet.
These little yellow peas are packed with the stuff.
“Not only does fiber support gut health by regulating bowel movements, but it also supports the microbiome.
“Our good bacteria in the gut love fiber and use it to produce short-chain fatty acids that help maintain a healthy gut environment,” explains Cara.
Rhiannon adds: “In the UK, it’s recommended that you consume at least 30g of fiber per day to help digestion, regulate blood sugar and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer.”
In addition to fiber, chickpeas also contain complex carbohydrates.
According to Cara, the two together also help support blood sugar levels by slowing the release of glucose into the blood, preventing energy slumps or later cravings.
“Chickpeas and beans are a plant-based source of protein, so they’re a good option to add to a meal for those who avoid animal products,” she adds.
Chickpeas and beans (like black beans and even baked beans with reduced salt and sugar) are also a great way to add extra nutrients to your diet, including B vitamins, potassium and iron.
“Anyone can enjoy them, but be careful starting with small amounts if you have a sensitive stomach or are new to adding fiber, as large amounts can cause bloating,” warns Cara.
Rhiannon adds, “Buying bulk packs of legumes, grains and pasta to cook with is a great way to save compared to buying pre-cooked versions, and you can cook and freeze in one go at home to save time.”
4. Olive oil
Whether you use it in cooking or spoon it over salads as a dressing, olive oil has been shown to be beneficial to health.
“Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, both of which have been shown to have positive effects on heart health and cholesterol levels.
“Olive oil contains various polyphenols (plant compounds) that are loaded with powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage and have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation,” says Cara.
“Regular consumption of olive oil (especially extra virgin olive oil) has been shown to support blood pressure and help relax blood vessels and improve function.
“Adults should aim for one to two tablespoons of olive oil per day, drizzle over salads, use it to sear food, or use it to roast food in the oven.”
This humble food is a breakfast staple for many. And for a good reason.
“First, oats are a great source of both insoluble and soluble fiber.
“The soluble fiber slows the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates by forming a gel-like substance in the gut; therefore supports the blood sugar level.
“The insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool, promotes regular bowel movements and is a great addition to a constipated diet,” explains Cara.
Oats are also rich in nutrients such as manganese, potassium, phosphorus and B vitamins.
“To support gut health, a top tip would be to soak the oatmeal in milk or water overnight to aid in the digestive process.”
6. Pumpkin seeds
Mini but mighty: According to Cara, pumpkin seeds are a great source of healthy fats.
They’re also packed with nutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, and vitamin E.
Cara says, “Magnesium plays a crucial role in muscle relaxation and is particularly beneficial for maintaining a healthy heart.”
“Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, which is particularly beneficial for male and female reproductive health.”
Vitamin E also helps protect our cells from oxidative damage.
Cara adds, “Pumpkin seeds can be enjoyed with any meal — you can add a tablespoon to smoothies, mix into porridge, or sprinkle over a salad.”