“Kale is a superfood and it’s special power is tasting bad”
Jim Gaffigan (& Jesse Warde)
It’s a no-brainer; when kick-starting your health and wellness goals one of the first things you want to address is diet. Whether you plan to rid yourself of environmental toxins, go organic, increase your consumption of nutrient or information-dense foods, diet is a huge factor in holistic health. The current thinking is that we can use so-called superfoods not only to nourish and repair the physical structure of the body, but also to reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes and restore brain health.
There is an overwhelming array of information out there with regards to superfoods, so where to begin? Well, adding more salads and vegetables to your diet is a great place to start. Essentially, superfoods are a special category of foods found in nature that are high in phytochemicals. They are central to providing longevity and good health and as a rule, the more colourful a fruit or a vegetable, the higher it is is phytochemicals (with most of these nutrients being attached to the skin) so look out for the deeper, more pigmented coloured vegetables as these pack more punch. Although superfoods tend to be low in calories, try to avoid resorting to calorie counting. Instead, focus on foods that are rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients. These are nutrients that the body needs but we cannot make ourselves.
Popular superfoods such as acai, chia seeds and goji berries tend to offer a first step on the journey towards better health. But perhaps you find them expensive and unsuitable for any meal that isn’t breakfast? Luckily, there are plenty more simple superfoods you can experiment with that make economical sense. I for one, am always on the lookout for nutrient-rich superfoods that I can include in my usual meals and snacks, without breaking the bank. Here are a couple of superfood categories that are both inexpensive and versatile.
Wholegrains: cereals, wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta
Wholegrains give you the complete package of fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. They help to keep the heart healthy, as well as maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and a healthy body weight. Wholegrains contain a nutrient-rich germ, an energy-providing endosperm and a fibre-rich bran layer – you could say they are the ‘whole’ package! Dieticians recommend three servings of wholegrains a day, where one serving is a medium slice of wholemeal bread, a small wholemeal roll, two cereal biscuits such as Weetabix, or three tbsp of wholegrain cereal, pasta or brown rice.
Beans: high fibre beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils
A true superfood, beans are high in protein and low in cholesterol. Although ground beef contains more than twice the amount of protein, it is much higher in cholesterol, and the protein content of beans can be boosted by mixing them with other foods (such as wholegrains!). Beans are also high in antioxidants and fibre. Just one cup of cooked beans provides almost half the recommended daily dose of fibre (21-15g for women and 30-38g for men) which benefits both our hearts and our waistlines. As meat doesn’t contain fibre it is digested fairly quickly whereas beans, which are high in both fibre and water content, are digested slowly, meaning you feel fuller faster and satisfied for longer. Not only are beans high in protein, fibre and antioxidants, but research has found that they may help in disease prevention too! For example, Mark Brick, a US professor at Colorado State University, is investigating the ability of different bean varieties to prevent cancer and diabetes.
Finally, have you discovered Cacao Temple’s products and ceremonies? Based in Poole, this local business is really upping the ante in the sale of pure cacao bars, superfood blends and ceremonial cacao. As well as educating us on the benefits of cacao, it’s cultural significance and modern-day mishandling, Cacao Temple’s co-founder and Shamanic Healer, Mark Wild’s cacao ceremonies use sound healing techniques to encourage participants to open their hearts. Join us this Saturday for a cacao healing journey with Mark and experience the emotional and physical benefits of this Mother Plant Medicine.