Emma Baldwin- Nutritionist
“Superfoods” are a special class of fruits, veges, nuts and seeds that have this name because they are so nutrient-dense. Here’s a list of our top 10 favourite superfoods, and exactly why we think each one is so good to include in your diet.
Keeping you and your family healthy means having a diet that’s packed full of natural nutrients. Vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants: they’re all essential for everyday health and wellbeing. A great way to get these nutrients is by eating a range of whole, tasty foods.
#1: Chia seeds
These tiny seeds are a source of Omega-3 fatty acids - a healthy fat. They’re also an awesome source of Fibre for gut health plus Magnesium and Calcium for nervous system and bone health. Chia seeds are a versatile addition to all kinds of dishes. You can add them to salads, cereals, or smoothies, or just about anything, for a daily nutrition boost.
One of nature’s healthiest sweet treats, dates are another good source of gut-healthy Fibre: just 5 dates provide 30% of your daily needs. Dates are also a great source of natural sugars, which means they’re Energy powerhouses, and one of the original sports snacks.
These tasty little nutritional treasure chests provide more Calcium than any other nut. They’re also packed with heart-healthy Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats, which your body uses to maintain cell membrane health. Additionally, almonds are rich in Vitamin E – an antioxidant nutrient that contributes to protection from free radicals and can support skin health.
Best known for making muffins and smoothies even more delicious, Blueberries rank second in terms of highest Antioxidant levels of any common food. That means they may assist your body in shielding cells against the damaging effects of free radicals. Blueberries are also a source of Fibre. Add them to fruit salads, cereals or baking for a touch of tangy, guilt-free sweetness.
One of nature’s richest plant sources of Omega-3 Fatty acids. Plus, they’re high in Fibre, which is great news for your digestive system. Eat linseeds whole, ground, or in combination with other superfoods (e.g. in LSA: ground Linseed, Sunflower and Almond). Make sure you store your ground linseed in an airtight container in the fridge.
Mmmmmm… nothing says “tropical summers” like the cool, creamy taste of coconut. That creaminess comes from a high level of Saturated Fats, which also means that coconut offers a lot of Energy. Although fat has had a bad reputation, it’s an essential macronutrient, and actually helps you to absorb important vitamins like A, D, E and K. Additionally, coconut flesh is a great source of Fibre, plus Potassium, which supports nerve and muscle function.
Another powerhouse of heart-healthy Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats, avocados are an Energy-rich addition to salads, dips and smoothies. Plus, they provide Vitamin A, which supports vision, immunity and reproductive health.
Like any nut, cashews are Energy-dense due to high levels of Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats. They also pack an impressive Protein punch which helps to keep you feeling full; and provide Vitamin B3 (niacin) levels to support energy production too.
Cacao is pure, raw, unprocessed cocoa; and is one of the highest known food sources of Antioxidants. Derived from cacao beans, cacao can be processed into cacao butter, nibs, paste, liquor or powder – each of which has a slightly different nutritional profile. For maximum Fibre, incorporate the nibs or powder into smoothies, baking, or other sweet dishes.
Like blueberries, these tiny, bright red berries are a goldmine of healthy Antioxidants. Specifically, they provide Flavonoids and Anthocyanins, which give the berries their jewel-like colour. Low fat cranberries provide Vitamins C which support immunity, skin health, and energy production. Plus, if you eat them whole (e.g. fresh or dried), rather than as a juice or extract, cranberries are also a reasonable source of Fibre.
The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 11th Edition 2014. Ministry of Health. (2006). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. International Cocoa Organisation. (2012). http://www.icco.org/about-cocoa/health-and-nutrition.html Haytowitz, D.B., Bhagwat, S. (2010). USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2. Nutrient Data Laboratory. US Department of Agriculture.