Our Top 10 Superfoods We Are Adding to our Diet in 2022
Did you know how vital it is to stay optimally nourished in order to improve your mood and boost energy levels? We are doing just that by adding our top 10 superfoods to our diet in 2022.
What is a superfood?
A superfood is a fancy term for a nutritionally dense food packed with nutrients and is highly beneficial for your health. These foods support nutrient absorption, reduce inflammation, and provide dense essential nutrients.
- Sea vegetables
Sea vegetables are loaded with minerals and are nature’s best source of iodine, needed for making thyroid hormone. Spirulina, algae, chlorella and kelp are full of magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium.
Spirulina specifically is an excellent source of protein, vitamin B1, calcium and a highly absorbable form of iron that is gentle on the digestive system. It has a very high protein and nutrient content, making it one of the famed superfoods and a known endurance booster.
Sea flakes are an easy way to add these vegetables into your diet by sprinkling them on eggs, soups, and salads. Add a heaping teaspoon of spirulina or chlorella powder to your post-workout smoothie. Blend it with oat milk, a frozen banana, and a scoop of nut butter, mmm. You can also add a dash of cinnamon and ground ginger for extra warmth on those frosty mornings.
- Cruciferous vegetables
The cruciferous family, with the Latin name Cruciferae or Brassicaceae, includes cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, collards, kohlrabi, radish, and broccoli. These vegetables contain some of the largest concentrations of health-promoting sulphur compounds, which increase the liver’s ability to neutralize potentially toxic substances, as well as being a rich source of heart-healthy folic acid.
Broccoli is one of those vegetables that never goes out of style and is an excellent way to get your vitamin C, vitamin A, K and daily fibre. This vegetable is easily accessible and available all year-long. Toss with olive oil, minced garlic, and then roast in the oven. So good! Broccoli sprouts pack four times the nutritional punch and make a delicious addition to wraps, salads, and sandwiches.
- Fermented foods
Fermentation is an anaerobic process (meaning in the absence of oxygen) where microorganisms like yeast and bacteria break down the food’s sugars, glucose, and other components. This process gives fermented foods their unique and delicious taste, aroma, texture, and appearance. (Heart Foundation, New Zealand). The fermentation process breaks down food molecules to be more readily digestible, making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients. Fermented foods include kimchi, pickles, cultured yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, and miso. We have this tangy condiment group as a superfood because they are high in probiotics, friendly bacteria for the gut, and do wonders to improve digestive health and reduce inflammation.
If you’re low in B12, you may experience fatigue, depression, brain fog and a general lack of energy. Miso, a traditional Japanese condiment made from fermented soybeans, is a powerful protein booster rich in vitamin B12. Incorporate this energy-boosting nutrient into your diet by adding the thick paste to salad dressings, soups, and stews. You can also add a spoonful to a cup of hot water for a nourishing and comforting drink on a cold winter’s day.
- Fatty fish
Fish, such as anchovies, sardines, herring, and salmon, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential anti-inflammatory, and a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals.
Salmon is a heart-healthy food that protects against heart disease and improves blood flow. Glaze 2 salmon filets with a mix of dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar, bake in the oven and then sprinkle with parsley. Sardines are a great snack to pack on the go.
Flaxseeds are the most concentrated plant source of omega-3 fatty acid providing heart-healthy nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s best to buy flax seeds whole to ensure freshness. Store the seeds in the fridge or freezer to extend their shelf life. To get the full benefits of flaxseed, grind them as you need them for maximum digestibility and nutrient absorption. Add a couple of spoonfuls of ground flaxseed to applesauce or oatmeal. Ground flaxseed is an excellent source of fibre so make sure to drink extra water when consuming, to keep things moving in your digestive tract.
- Dark leafy greens
Food doesn’t have to be grown in the far edges of the planet to be deemed a superfood. Something you can grow in your backyard can be just as nutritionally sound. That’s where dark leafy greens come in. We’re talking leafy greens like kale, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, and beet greens.
Swiss chard, for example, is highly concentrated in phytonutrients, vitamin A, potassium, calcium and provides powerful antioxidant protection. Add chopped greens into soups and stews, saute with olive oil and garlic, or mix it up and use a variety of greens in salads instead of your usual lettuce.
*Pro-tip: Have you ever bought a bunch of kale, only to have it go limp in the fridge after a few days? Chop them and then wash and spin using a salad spinner to keep your greens crisp and fresh. Store the kale in the spinner and keep the drained water in the bottom. Voilà – fresh greens for a week or two!
It’s time to mix up your salad routine! Arugula can fit into the dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetable category, but we are having it stand out on its own because of its versatility and flavour profile. Arugula is a peppery-tasting green that will zip to any dish. Arugula contains a healthy dose of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate – the heart-friendly nutrients, and aids in lowering cholesterol and balancing blood sugar. Its water and fibre content can also help with digestion—spice up your usual salad mix by adding a handful of arugula and a drizzle of lemon juice.
If you want to keep your energy boosted this winter, you’ve got to stay healthy and have an immune system that is equipped to ward off harmful microbes. That is where our old friend garlic comes in, a classic that never goes out of style.
Garlic contains unique sulphur compounds that contribute to its health benefits. One of these compounds is allicin, which acts as a powerful antibacterial and antiviral agent and is the source of garlic’s pungent smell, so the stronger, the better! Chopping releases the allicin so let it sit 5-10 minutes before adding it to your cooking.
Garlic is a sure way to add flavour to many of the dishes you already make, such as spaghetti sauce, homemade hummus, salad dressing and mashed potatoes.
Tahini is a Middle Eastern paste made from ground sesame seeds. The seeds are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, dietary fibre, and copper, a trace mineral important for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant processes. If you can get it or make it yourself, raw tahini is more nutrient-rich than roasted tahini. Add it to homemade hummus, salad dressings, or add a bit of hot water to the thick paste and drizzle it on your favourite wrap combo.
*Fun fact: Early Hindu legends refer to sesame seeds as a symbol of immortality. (The World’s Healthiest Foods, George Mateljan)
- Whole grains
Grains get a bad rap because they are a source of carbohydrates and the dreaded gluten. It’s not the grains themselves that are the issue, but rather the excessive over-processing. Not all grains are created equal, so you want to look for whole grains that retain their full range of health-promoting nutrients. Whole grains are an excellent source of dietary fibre, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins.
Amaranth makes a delicious creamy porridge, perfect for those cold mornings. Simmer with your choice of milk and top with fruit and cinnamon. Add barley, millet, teff, brown rice, buckwheat groats, barley, and amaranth to your diet to receive the potent antioxidant activity of whole grains.
Introduce these superfoods one at a time, keep note of what you like and make them a regular part of your diet. Keep it simple, stay warm, and enjoy!
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