6 of the best superfoods

We take a look at some of the best superfoods to add to your daily diet

Spinach
“The minute you open a bag of these fairly ordinary-looking little green leaves you are about to dive into a wealth of goodness that few foods can match!” explains nutritionist Fiona Kirk, author of The New 2 Weeks in the Fast Lane Diet (www.fionakirk.com). “They are an excellent source of a quite staggering array of the essential vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals that play a role in keeping us energised, boosting our defences against disease and promoting good bone, nerve and heart health. Also, unlike many ‘greens’, they offer impressive levels of omega-3 fats which are now famed for their anti-inflammatory and fat-busting properties.”

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An added bonus is that spinach retains its fabulous health virtues when eaten raw (added to smoothies and salads), when lightly steamed or microwaved (fabulous as a base for seafood or poultry) and also when cooked for longer in tasty soups and stews.

Blackberries
“Blackberries rank in the top 10 of the world’s most protective antioxidant foods that help to defend us against ageing and disease,” says Fiona. “This is thanks in particular to their richness in a group of plant chemicals known as anthocyanins, which give them their deep purple colour and have been linked to cancer prevention, improved cardiovascular health and brain function, a reduction in painful symptoms of PMS and the promotion of healthy skin. They are also extremely rich in vitamin C – our top immune system booster – plus vitamin K and the mineral manganese, which are vital for bone-building and regeneration.”

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Eat them straight from the bush or bag or box, have them with natural yogurt or cottage cheese, add them to juices and smoothies, make a batch of healthy muffins, stew them with fruit juice or add them to meat stews (delicious)!

Pine nuts
“Super-rich in the mineral magnesium, regular consumption of these delicious little tree nuts is associated with improved mood, stronger bones, a lower risk of multiple cancers, improved cholesterol and blood pressure levels, weight loss and weight maintenance,” says Fiona. “Magnesium is often referred to as a ‘miracle mineral’ but deficiency is increasingly common as many diets are feebly-short of leafy green vegetables, beans, lentils and legumes plus nuts and seeds which are all rich sources. A couple of handfuls of pine nuts (50g) provides around half the magnesium we should be consuming daily.”

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Make them part of a healthy snack, sprinkle them over muesli, porridge and yogurt, add them to salads, make pesto or lightly toast them and add a crunchy topping to vegetable, meat, poultry and fish dishes.

Amaranth
“Amaranth is a tiny seed which was incredibly popular with the Aztecs,” says Frida Harju, a nutritionist at the health app Lifesum (www.lifesum.com). “It is packed with calcium, vitamin B, zinc, iron, magnesium, protein and omega-3. This makes the seed a great source of energy and nutrients, which further combine to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.”

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The simplest way to eat amaranth is to boil it for 15–20 minutes and add it as a side to your meal. Alternatively you can dry amaranth seeds and add them to soup.

Raw cacao powder
“Despite often being told to avoid it, chocolate in its rawest form, as cacao beans, is not unhealthy – it’s actually a superfood!” says Frida. “What makes chocolate unhealthy is the roasting process, during which the beans lose their nutrients, and sugar is added. In its raw form, cacao powder contains an astonishingly high number of antioxidants and can be a great source of iron and magnesium.”

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You can sprinkle it on top of your yogurt to add flavour, or include a little in your smoothies.

Almonds
“Almonds are the only nut and one of the few proteins that are alkaline forming,” explains Frida. “A body that is not alkaline risks poor immune function, low energy and weight gain, which is why almonds are a great source of nutrients. The nut is high in protein, fibre and vitamin E, which helps to give a more stable blood sugar level and has also been shown to increase your metabolism and the rate of fat burn.”

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To get the full nutrition of almonds, eat them with their skin on. They make for a great snack to eat throughout the day and can also be used as a healthy topping for your yogurt.

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