Superfood has been a buzzword in the diet industry in the past decade, used to describe a slew of nutrient-rich foods that promise to improve health and help reduce the risk of serious disease. While the claims behind some foods should be taken with a grain of salt, there are others that really do live up to the hype. We’ve gathered some of the most potent and healthful ingredients to add to your shopping list, to give your body the nutrients it needs to stay stronger longer.
Hemp products have enjoyed a surge in popularity recently. Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals, making them a great option for those looking to cut back on meat without sacrificing important nutrients, or those simply wanting to increase their nutritional intake. Studies have also linked the nutrients found in hemp seeds to a reduced risk of heart disease, and reduction in PMS and menopausal symptoms, while other research has found they can help improve skin conditions such as eczema. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein – about 25 per cent of calories in hemp seeds come from protein, which is relatively high compared with other plant-based protein sources.
Hemp seeds can be eaten raw or cooked and have a creamy, nutty taste. Try sprinkling them over cereal or yoghurt, salads, vegetables or stir fries. Or add them to smoothies or protein shakes.
Kunzea is the latest native Aussie ingredient to impress health experts for its nutritional and medicinal benefits. The Kunzea tree is native to Tasmania and has been used topically by Aboriginal communities in Tasmania to relieve irritated skin and muscular aches and pains for thousands of years. Recently, experts have found that the oil from the tree is also highly valuable and may have more beneficial properties than its better-known cousin, the Tea Tree. It’s also been shown to help reduce pain and relieve inflammation.
You can buy Kunzea in many forms – oil, cream and bath salts to name a few – but Kunzea honey is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to enjoy its benefits. Add the honey to your tea, baking, smoothies or cereal.
It’s not exactly brand-new information that greens are good for you, but like most things in the natural world, some are more powerful than others. Microgreens are the baby counterparts of plants such as cabbage and broccoli and pack a powerful punch. They typically contain four to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts and are particularly celebrated for their high levels of antioxidants.
You’ll find them near the lettuce at your local supermarket, or you can grow them at home. Try adding microgreens to salads and sandwiches or serve them on top of scrambled eggs or as a side with a slice of quiche.
Better Health Victoria recommends over-65s eat fish twice a week. Fish is a healthy source of protein and contains a host of health benefits you can’t get from other meat-based proteins such as beef and chicken. Fresh salmon, tuna and trout are packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. For the tinned variety you can’t go past sardines, which are loaded with healthy fats and are an excellent source of vitamin B-12, iron, calcium and magnesium.
Fish is also a highly versatile ingredient, so you can create different and delicious meals each week. Make a salmon or trout pasta with cherry tomatoes, garlic and baby spinach, or whip up a one-tray oven bake by tossing diced potatoes, asparagus and your fish in olive oil, salt and pepper and roasting it all on one tray for about 20 minutes. Sardines on toast is a classic easy dinner, as is a simple garden salad with sardines tossed through.
This delicate herb has been around for centuries but scientists have only recently started looking into how it can help improve our health. In particular, studies have found that sage can help improve brain function and memory, especially in people living with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is accompanied by a drop in the level of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain. Sage inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine. One four-month study of 42 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s found that sage extract significantly improved brain function. Other studies have also shown that sage can improve memory function in healthy people, both young and old.
Sage pairs well with chicken and pork as well as pasta dishes and quiches. Why not try a sage stuffing for your roast chicken and an apple-and-sage sauce for your roast pork? Sage is also easy to grow at home and is pretty durable once established, so plant in a pot to enjoy any time you like.
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IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.