SUPERFOODS TO WATCH
There’s no denying that as a nation, we’re becoming more health-conscious. And while the fitness trend is in full swing, we are also becoming more conscious of what foods we eat. We all know the benefits of kale, chia, oats and berries and the importance of eating well and eating healthy. So, we’ve done some research to find out some of the best superfoods to get acquainted with in 2017.
1. Watermelon Seeds
While watermelon is a very popular fruit, we usually don’t eat any of the seeds. But, maybe we should start. Watermelon seeds are loaded with nutrients including essential proteins, minerals and fatty acids. They’re rich in vitamin B such as thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and folate as well as magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, zinc, phosphorus and copper.
Watermelon seeds are said to prevent the signs of ageing due to the antioxidants and oils they contain which make your skin look healthier, younger and more vibrant. Studies show that results can be seen by consuming one or two handfuls of watermelon seeds each week.
Try roasting them and eat them as a snack or sprinkle on salads or drink watermelon seed tea which can benefit cardiac health.
These beauties are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and are being touted for their effects on muscle recovery, performance and fat burning. But that’s not all they’re good for. They can be used as an aid to help the immune system, eye and gut health, blood flow and kidney health. Blackcurrant extracts have been shown to reduce risk factors for metabolic conditions such as types 1 and 2 diabetes.
The entire blackcurrant plant – from the leaves to the seeds – can be used for a number of conditions. The most common form is blackcurrant seed oil, but you can also make tea from the plant’s leaves (fresh or dried). Blackcurrant juice is a potent way to get this superfood into your body, but you can also try blackcurrant powder.
Full of vitamins, the most prevalent being vitamin C, blackcurrants have four times the amount of vitamin C that you’ll find in oranges and twice the number of antioxidants as blueberries. Their leaves have a range of properties including antiviral, antitoxic and antiseptic. The high GLA content in blackcurrants can help to reduce joint and muscle damage, pain, stiffness and soreness.
Clinical trials in the United States have shown that blackcurrants can improve eye function including blood flow to the eyes and symptoms of visual fatigue (particularly from computer work). One study showed that one tablespoon of blackcurrant berries reduced eye strain within two hours of taking it.
Get ready for an ‘algae boom’ – it might not be too far away. Rich in omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA) found only in oily fish, algae is great for vegans and vegetarians who want to supplement their diet with these essential fatty acids.
But non-meat and dairy eaters aren’t the only ones who can benefit from algae. Spirulina, popular at juice bars and in supplements for many years, is a type of algae and more than 90% of baby formulas use algae oil as the source of their healthy fats. This type of algae is known as Chlorella and is packed with nutrients such as healthy triglyceride oils, protein and micronutrients.
When made into an oil, algae has less saturated fats than olive or canola oil, making it a great alternative for healthy cooking.
4. Black bean pasta
This might just be the ticket if you love pasta but are trying to avoid it. Black bean pasta is a great source of plant-based protein, and it’s gluten-free. It’s very high in fibre so will help with digestion and because it’s digested slowly, will make you feel fuller for longer. It’s also been shown to help with weight loss.
With a low sugar content, it’s an ideal choice for diabetics and weight watchers and is also very high in antioxidants. Research studies have shown that black beans can play a large role in good heart health, promoting anti-hypertensive properties.
And what you see is what you get – black bean pasta is just spaghetti noodles made from black beans, with no preservatives or additives.
We’ve been onto this one for a while, and 2016 really saw turmeric come into its own due to its many health benefits. In fact, turmeric is one of the most effective nutritional supplements available to us and studies show that it has major benefits for your brain and body.
In addition to being the spice that gives curry its yellow colour, turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a medicinal herb. It contains compounds called curcuminoids, the most important being curcumin, which is the main active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
Turmeric is also believed to dramatically increase the antioxidant capacity of the body, while curcumin has been linked to improved brain function and lowering the risk of brain diseases. It may be helpful in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s and has shown promise in the treatment of depression.
Curcumin is also being touted to improve heart health, help fight the ageing process and has been known to help the painful and often crippling effects of arthritis.