We often hear about the nutritional qualities of our food, but do we ever consider how different food affects the way our body's function. Superfoods fuel your body so it can fight back against chronic disease, common illness and nutrient deficiencies.
Here are some of the foods that have earned the title "superfood". Look out for recipes to include as many of these as you can over the next week or two.
A for AVOCADO
Known for containing healthy monounsaturated fats, avocado is thought to be a skin, hair and overall health superfood. Although avocados contain healthy fats, they are high in calories so limit your intake to one or two a week.
B for BEETROOT
The distinctive purple colour of beetroots is due to betalain, an antioxidant that produces their bright colour and boosts immune system, reducing risk of cancers and degenerative diseases.
C for CARROTS
Their bright orange pigmentation boosts immunity along with containing vitamin A- best known for maintaining healthy skin and eyesight- they even help with seeing in the dark (apparently).
D for DATES
A great natural substitute for sugar in baking, dates are high in fibre, beneficial for keeping the digestive system flowing and healthy. Try adding dates to your baking recipes instead of sugar for a natural sugary treat.
E for EGGS
An inexpensive and tasty way to boost your protein intake with only 70 calories per egg. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which is beneficial in promoting heart health.
F for FISHOmega-3 oils are also found in oily fish such as salmon and tuna and are thought to slow down the rate of damage to DNA providing protection against inflammation and ageing. It is also thought that regularly eating oily fish can lower blood pressure and protect your heart.
G for GARLIC
Known for its strong flavour and smell, garlic also has strong antibacterial properties and could be beneficial in fighting coughs and colds. It is also beneficial in promoting the growth and regeneration of skin, hair and nails.
H for HONEY
A natural substitute for sugar, honey is thought to have natural healing properties particularly in soothing sore throats and colds. Although natural, honey should only be consumed in small amounts due to the high sugar content.
I for ICEBERG LETTUCE
Iceberg lettuce is surprisingly packed with nutrients. It is an excellent source of potassium and manganese whilst containing good amounts of iron, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients are all essential in a healthy diet. It is also low in calories and high in water, meaning it is a great low calorie salad ingredient.
J for JACKFRUIT
Jackfruit is a great way to increase your protein intake without consuming meat. It also contains high levels of vitamin A which promote the growth and health of skin, hair and nails.
K for KIWI FRUIT
Naturally we think of citrus fruits as the best way to receive vitamin C however kiwi fruit have greater immune boosting abilities. Adding chopped kiwi fruit to your breakfast is a great way to start your morning with an immunity boost.
L for LEMON
Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C- an essential vitamin for immunity. Vitamin C is also necessary for the body to produce collagen- an essential building block of blood vessels, tendons and ligaments.Simply add lemon to your bottle of water for a refreshing healthy taste.
M for MILK
It is no secret that milk contains calcium- essential for the growth, strength and maintenance of our bones. Without calcium, our bones become brittle and weak and, more commonly in women, the risk of developing osteoporosis increases.
N for NUTS
Nuts are power houses when it comes to nutrition. They are full of protein, fibre, essential fats and nutrients. Regularly consuming a variety of nuts boosts overall health and provides a delicious snack.
O for OATS
The perfect warming breakfast on a cold winter morning may as also provide you with the nutrition your body needs and deserves. Packed with whole grains, oats are known for their cholesterol reducing properties along with aiding digestion.
P for PINEAPPLE
Containing the enzyme bromelain, pineapples are known for their tangy taste which provides anti-inflammatory properties. They are also high in fibre which promotes digestion creating an overall healthy diet.
Q for QUINOA
As a healthier alternative to rice, quinoa provides essential amino acids that the body is unable to produce itself. It falls into the superfood category as it is also rich in calcium and iron.
R for RED FRUIT
Powerful antioxidants, red fruit are thought to fight heart disease and prostate cancer whilst minimizing the risk of stroke. Consuming a portion of red fruit such as raspberries and strawberries each day creates an overall healthy diet.
S for SPINACH
Known as the ‘Popeye effect’, spinach is thought to increase energy levels, improve blood circulation and is rich in iron- an essential component for the function of red blood cells in the central nervous system.
T for TEA
Without a doubt, tea is everywhere- from cafes, offices and houses, it is a staple cupboard product and rightly so. It is thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and possibly some cancers- colon in particular.
U for UNCOOKED VEGETABLES
Cooking vegetables reduces the nutritional profile. Steaming or boiling vegetables in a small pan with little water reduces this loss of nutrients. However, eating vegetables such as carrots, peppers and spinach raw, means you are receiving all the nutrients.
V for VEGETABLES
Each vegetable has a different nutritional profile due their colour and environment. It is important to eat a wide variety of vegetables from different groups to ensure you have a balanced and healthy diet.
W for WATER
The human body is 60-70% water. It is an essential nutrient that is required for the body to function at its optimum. Aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day and carry around with you a water bottle to ensure you are hydrated throughout the day.
X for XIGUA (WATERMELON)
More commonly known as watermelon, it is a refreshing fruit that is low in calories and high in water. Unlike other fruit, it is lower in sugar and contains vitamins A and C.
Y for YOGURT
Yogurt contains live and active cultures which promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. This improves the digestive system reducing the risk of intestinal infections. Yogurt is also packed with vitamins potassium, zinc and vitamin B5- therefore is a healthy everyday ingredient.
Z for ZUCCHINI (COURGETTES)
OK... we cheated but the humble courgette deserves a mention. Often used as a substitute for pasta or thinly sliced in lasagne, courgettes are a low-calorie vegetable with a high-water content. Courgettes are rich in magnesium and potassium which helps maintain a healthy blood pressure.