The term ‘superfood’ gets thrown about a lot these days. But, what exactly is a superfood?
A nutritionist’s definition is simply that they are whole foods that stand tall above the rest. Superfoods are jam-packed with important nutrients to provide optimal health and wellbeing, with minimal kilojoules. By introducing a few ‘superfoods’ into your family meal plan, you can achieve maximum health benefits.
Here’s five fantastic superfoods and how best to add them to your family’s diet to give it a nutritional lift:
Superfood #1: Green leafy vegetables
Leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses and are at the top of the list. Sadly, many families don’t incorporate one of mother nature’s miracles into our everyday diets. As our kids munch on their chicken and lettuce sandwich for lunch, the most greens they’ll get are those lightly coloured green leaves that are slapped between two pieces of bread. The secret is, the darker the leaf, the higher the nutritional value.
Green leafy vegetables are a good source of iron and are crammed with phytochemicals. They are also packed with immune-boosting nutrients such as vitamin C, beta carotene (which converts to vitamin A in the body), and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin C also supports the absorption of iron.
Green veggies are also a great source of magnesium, potassium and folate, making them a great food for expecting mums.
- To make leafy greens more appealing to fussy little eaters, simply sauté them in olive oil and when they are done, stir in some almond meal. This gives the illusion that they are coated with breadcrumbs and will make them much more enticing to kids.
- Also, for a healthy snack, try making kale chips. Simply toss kale in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and bake in moderate oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Superfood #2: Broccoli
Kids may turn their noses up at the pure sight of broccoli, but this little tree-like veggie is a nutritional powerhouse and a must-eat superfood.
Most of the health-promoting properties found in broccoli can be attributed to the phytochemicals called isothiocyanates. Research has found that these potent compounds may be important in the prevention of some cancers.
Being one of Mother Nature’s unsurpassed superfoods, they are also high in vitamin C. In fact, an average serving provides twice the daily required amount of vitamin C. As well as this, they are a great source of vitamin A and E, plus many important vitamins and minerals.
- Boiling broccoli reduces its vitamin C content by half. Blanching or steaming is a much healthier way to cook this delicious and nutritious food.
- To get kids eating broccoli at its nutritional best, try blanching the florets, chilling them and serving them with your child’s favourite dip. Always a hit!
Superfood #3: Blueberries
Blueberries are the nutritional powerhouses of the fruit world! They are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins which are responsible for their amazing health benefits.
Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C (enhanced by anthocyanins) and beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A in the body).
- Frozen blueberries are great to have in stock when fresh blueberries are out of season for that quick snack.
- Yoghurt sprinkled with sliced banana and blueberries makes a nutritious and delicious snack that little ones love. Real maple syrup can be dotted on for those with an extra sweet tooth.
- You can also add blueberries to baking, such as sprinkling in your favourite muffin recipe.
Superfood #4: Cinnamon
Who would guess? Of all the spices to fill our already-packed spice rack, cinnamon should be there amongst them. With its beautiful aroma and taste, it adds flavour as well as health benefits to your favourite recipe. Research shows that a little bit of cinnamon (1/2 a teaspoon to be exact) each day helps decrease blood sugar levels, so is an excellent addition for those with diabetes.
- Sprinkle a generous amount over breakfast porridge.
- A cup of tea or coffee can be jazzed up with a cinnamon stick.
- Sprinkle lots over plain yoghurt or ice cream for a quick dessert; add a sliced banana and maple syrup for that extra treat!
Superfood #5: Garlic
Hailed as Mother Nature’s penicillin, garlic was used by the ancient Egyptians, Vikings and Chinese for their medicinal properties.
Some studies have shown that two to four cloves of garlic per day can help lower LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure. Garlic can also slow the growth of harmful bacteria, yeasts and fungi as it acts as an antibiotic.
- Roast baby potatoes in a garlic cloves, olive oil and fresh rosemary sprigs.
- A teaspoon of crushed garlic and honey can be downed for their medicinal qualities.