Four Plant-Based Superfoods that Live Up to their Hype
By Melissa Fine, Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor.
There are ‘super foods’ and then there are super foods. While some aren’t as super or nutritionally superior as their marketing claims them to be, here are some that can be worth incorporating into your diet on the regular:
1) Broccoli: Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved broccoli - I used to call it ‘little trees’ (Try this on your kids next time they scrunch up their noses at their broccoli). What makes green veg super is that they provide abundant nutrients in a single package. To name just some of its nutrients, broccoli is full of good-for-your gut fibre, as well as compounds called plant sterols, which can inhibit the intestinal absorption of cholesterol.
Broccoli is also loaded with antioxidants like selenium and vitamin C, which can protect our cells from damage by free radicals, highly reactive molecules in the environment from things like cigarette smoke, pollution and pesticides. Another benefit of vitamin C: It enhances the absorption of harder-to-absorb, plant-based (‘non-heme’) iron in the intestines, making broccoli and other vitamin C-rich veg like red capsicum ideal to serve with your legumes or tofu.
2) Blueberries: Powerful antioxidants called ‘anthocyanins’ are what makes blueberries blue, and they’re also responsible for this super-fruit's anti-inflammatory potential. Don’t forget about all the other berries though – The more variety and colour in your diet, the wider the variety of nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you’ll be getting.
3) Chia Seeds: What sets these freckle-sized black and white seeds apart from other seeds is their high omega-3 content, as most seeds offer more omega-6; Although both omega-3 and 6 are essential dietary fats, a diet with more omega-6 than omega-3, like the typical Western diet (high in meat and vegetable oils), can encourage inflammatory processes. A diet higher in omega-3 on the other hand – from oily fish (like wild salmon and sardines), walnuts, flaxseed and chia - can benefit cardiovascular, joint, skin and brain health (the omega-3 fat ‘DHA’ is integral to brain structure).
Chia is also full of fibre, so it really fills you up – Great if you’re trying to lose a few extra kilos (You probably wont want a mid-morning snack if you have chia with your breakkie) and to help get things moving along your digestive tract if you’re on the constipated side. Chia seeds also expand and gel-up as soon as you mix them with liquid, so are a great way to thicken up a smoothie without the need for yoghurt or ice cream. And if you’re on-the-go, the Super Foods Chia Fusion sachets by Nature’s Way are a great way to get more nutrients like omega-3 and fibre into you.
4) Cacao: The cacao bean’s botanical name is ‘Theobroma cacao’, which literally means ‘food of the gods’; Fitting, as apart from tasting awesome and satisfying my sweet tooth, cacao has more antioxidant-potential than acai and goji berries. Plus, according to a gold-standard review\*, when eaten everyday for at least a fortnight, cocoa has shown to have a small but significant effect in lowering blood pressure - Worth noting as high blood pressure increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The blood pressure lowering effect of cocoa is thanks to its ‘flavanol’ content, a plant compound also found in tea leaves, beans, blackberries and apricots, but in smaller amounts than cocoa…Another reason to eat chocolate! ;)
Keep in mind that the less processed your chocolate, the more nutrients it will have retained. Dutch processed cocoa in particular contains significantly less flavanols than fresh cacao beans*.
Nature’s Way Super Foods Chia Fusions: Not all superfoods are the same. Nature’s Way uses only the highest quality, nutrient dense raw ingredients from the purest source, to guarantee you get the nutrition you should expect from a superfood.
Add 1 sachet to 250ml of water and stir for a delicious tasting drink. Perfect as a delicious substitute for soft drinks and sugary beverages or before and after a workout. Available in Raw Berry Juice with Chia / Raw Greens Juice with Chia / Cacao Smoothie with Chia
WHAT WE LEFT OUT...
Artificial Colours & Flavours
* Ried K, Sullivan TR, Fakler P, Frank OR, Stocks NP. Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD008893. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008893.pub2.