We all know how difficult it can be to eat a healthy and balanced diet, despite the positive effect it can have on both your physical and mental health. With fast food temptation testing our willpower daily, we think knowing exactly what eating healthy can do for you will help you choose what you eat more carefully. There are a whole host of health benefits of superfoods which are guaranteed to make you think twice about opting for a McDonald’s instead of a salad, so keep reading to find out what they are!
Why you need to know the health benefits of superfoods
Healthy eating initiatives such as Change4Life continuously encourage us to eat better, but many of us don’t know the real impact it makes. While being encouraged to eat your five a day is excellent, it’s important to know how eating these healthy foods benefits your mind and body. If you are not well informed of the health benefits of superfoods, it could make you less motivated to eat them daily as you may not notice the positive effects straight away. The high volume of antioxidants in superfoods are renowned for decreasing or reversing the effects of free radicals that are with the following health problems:
- Respiratory diseases
- Immune deficiency
- Parkinson’s disease
As well as reducing the risk of developing health problems, superfoods have many other benefits such as improving memory and coordination, stimulating bone-building cells and banishing bloating.
What is a superfood?
Superfoods come in a variety of forms – they are mostly plant-based, but can also be meat and dairy products too. Put simply, a superfood is a food which has exceptional nutrient density and therefore beneficial for your health and well-being. Superfoods are incredibly nutritious wholefoods which boast a number of micronutrients in high quantities that help us stay healthy and disease-free. As well as providing us with the necessary vitamins and minerals to protect our immune system, superfoods can also kill the harmful bacteria in our bodies. Although the name suggests these foods are completely out of the ordinary, the chances are you already eat a lot of superfoods regularly. Some of the most popular superfoods include onions, eggs, apples and fish.
1. Reduce the risk of heart problems
According to The British Heart Foundation, there are around 7.4 million people living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK today. The causes of heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Being one of the most common health problems in the UK, it is crucial that you take the necessary steps to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Luckily, there are a huge variety of superfoods that are proven to help do just this. Nuts are excellent for heart health as they contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients. Just one of the heart-healthy substances in nuts is Vitamin E, which helps stop the development of plaques in your arteries. If plaque develops in your arteries, you are more susceptible to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack. You can find a huge variety of healthy and delicious recipes with nuts here.
It has been proven that eating one to two servings of fish a week could reduce the risk of a heart attack. Doctors believe the omega-3 in fish, which reduces inflammation throughout the body, are one of the key unsaturated fats you need in your diet to keep your heart healthy. The fish with the most omega-3 includes salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna. If you need inspiration for tasty fish dishes, you can find some nutritious recipes here.
2. Protect vision and eye health
As you get older, it is not uncommon for your vision to deteriorate, but by eating ceratin superfoods, you can keep your vision intact for as long as possible. Eggs contain two potent antioxidants known to protect vision and eye health: zeaxanthin and lutein.
This antioxidant found in egg yolk protects eyes against damage due to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Lutein is a type of carotenoid that helps fight macular degeneration, the leading cause of legal blindness. In fact, you can even find lutein in green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli. However, scientists believe the body is able to absorb lutein better from eggs than leafy vegetables.
Eggs are a cost-effective and nutritious superfood which can be used in a number of breakfasts, snacks and main meals. However, there is a recommended way to eat them. Poached and boiled eggs are considered to be the healthiest eggs to eat as their cooking methods cause less oxidation of cholesterol and help retain most of the nutrients in the eggs. Alternatively, you can use eggs to make a mouth-watering omelette.
3. Reduce blood pressure
There are many ways to control high blood pressure without medication, and eating healthy is one of them. A medical study found that individuals who ate five or more servings of yogurt a week had a 31% lower risk of developing high blood pressure. Many dieticians suggest including skimmed milk or yoghurt in your diet as they are low in fat and an excellent source of calcium. You can combine your milk or yoghurt with granola for a wholesome breakfast in the morning or a tasty snack during the day.
Snacking throughout the day often leads to grabbing your favourite flavour of crisps or a chocolate bar, but there are much healthier alternatives that can help reduce your blood pressure. Unsalted seeds are considerably high in potassium, magnesium and other minerals which are well known for reducing blood pressure. You can enjoy some sunflower, pumpkin or squash seeds as a filling snack between meals.
4. Prevent cancer
Cancer Research UK state that healthier diets could prevent around 1 in 20 cancers. A lot of superfoods contain beneficial compounds that could help decrease the growth of cancer. Red grapes are a prime example as their seeds are filled with the super antioxidant activin. This cancer-fighting chemical offers significant protection against certain types of cancer. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which can stop cancer from starting in the breast, liver, stomach and lymphatic system.
Pumpkins are a low calorie, nutritional powerhouse that have been discovered to provide protection against certain cancers. Due to their high levels of carotenoids, pumpkins aid in neutralising free radicals and significantly lower the risk of developing stomach cancers. Pumpkin is a very versatile superfood meaning you can be quite experimental with it and include it in a number of meals. From pancakes to curry, you can find creative ways to introduce pumpkin into your diet using these recipes.
5. Weight loss
Another favourable health benefits of superfoods are that they can actually aid weight loss. Sweet fruits such as blueberries are well known for their cognitive and cardio-protective abilities, but recent research has also indicated they could even change the way we metabolise fat and sugar. When combined with a low-fat diet, blueberries could also lower triglycerides and improve blood sugar levels – both which are benefits of a comprehensive weight loss plan. Another superfood that has proven to be an effective weight loss solution is whole grains. According to research, consuming whole grains increases resting metabolic rates and thus promotes weight loss. One of the most notable whole grains that are renowned for their ability to help lose weight is oats. Loaded with beta-glucans, these soluble fibres have been shown to increase satiety and improve metabolic health. Moreover, both brown and white rice contain significant amounts of resistant starch which studies have shown to be helpful with weight loss and benefit heart health.
How to incorporate superfoods into your diet
Fast food is generally considerably cheaper and more convenient than making a meal out of superfoods, however, you can incorporate superfoods into your diet for a small cost and with minimal effort. In an article published by The Independent, it reveals that healthy food is, in fact, cheaper than junk food in UK supermarkets. This may be hard to believe, but with over two-thirds of adults being overweight or obese in the UK today, the government have gone to great lengths to make healthy eating more affordable. Now, we understand that superfoods may not be as expensive as they once were, but they can still be overpriced depending where you shop. In order to save as much money as possible, we suggest you buy your foods in season. Buying food out of season is inevitably going to cost you more money, but its nutritional content may also be comprised too. Out-of-season fruit and veg are produced in artificial conditions which require more fertilisers and can result in flavourless produce. To know when the best time to buy your food is, take a look at this seasonality table.
Now you know the most cost-effective way to include superfoods into your diet, it’s time to think about how you can become accustomed to eating them on a regular basis. While eating salad is an excellent way to get your five a day, eating them often will get boring, and you will begin to find eating a chore rather than an enjoyable experience. To ensure your diet is varied, pleasant and healthy, take a look at these superfood recipes which are guaranteed to give you inspiration for tasty dishes. It is also important to understand that superfoods aren’t limited to food dishes as the name would suggest. You can easily reap the health benefits of superfoods with beverage alternatives such as green tea. The best way to introduce superfoods into your diet is to pre-plan your meals for the week. By doing this, you will know exactly what ingredients you need, and you won’t be in the situation of not knowing what to eat and grabbing a ready meal for convenience. You can find a great selection of free printable weekly meal planners here.
The ultimate guide to superfoods
We hope understanding how eating superfoods can improve your health has inspired you to make changes to your diet. With years of expereince catering in Northampton, we know exactly what food people love, and we can assure you that superfoods are a delicious addition to any meal. If reading about all these mouth-watering foods has made you want to host an event with flavoursome and healthy food, why not consider our private events catering in Milton Keynes or special occasions catering in Berkhamsted?