Five superfoods to feast on
Posted on 20 July 2016
There’s a lot of talk about eating so-called super foods. We asked dietician Ansie Engelbrecht of Mediclinic Kimberley to clarify what a superfood is and which ones we should be eating.
‘A superfood is basically anything that’s jam-packed with nutrients and therefore very good you,’ explains Ansie, but that’s quite a broad definition given the number of nutritious food choices out there. In addition, Ansie cautions against thinking that there’s one perfect food or diet. ‘There is no one diet for all,’ she says.
The health and wellness industry tends to promote exotic, expensive and hard-to-find food items that, when eaten in isolation, won’t boost your health because it has to be about balance.
‘The trick is to ensure you eat a wide variety of different healthy foods every day,’ explains Ansie. So before you blow your budget on a kilogram of acai berries or mountains of miracle matcha powder, consider nature’s more ordinary offerings that’ll help keep you well this winter.
1. Dark green and orange/yellow vegetables
‘You need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables daily,’ says Ansie. Vegetables are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. Try to include brightly coloured, dark green and leafy vegetables and fruits in your diet such as beets, carrots, broccoli and tomatoes. Winter’s seasonal fruits, for example oranges, guavas and naartjies, are good sources of disease-fighting vitamin C.
2. Dried beans and pulses
Pulses like peas, beans and other legumes are an essential part of a healthy diet. They’re highly nutritious, high in fibre and contain protein. ‘Try to eat dried beans, peas, lentils or soya three to four times a week,’ says Ansie. ‘Make soups and stews with lean meat or chicken, vegetables and pulses.’
3. Pre- and probiotics
A healthy immune system starts in the gut. Keep yours ticking by eating foods that contain prebiotics and/or probiotics such as oat bran, yoghurt, bananas, aged cheese and artichokes. ‘Probiotics are live, healthy bacteria that live in the gut. Prebiotics help the intestines to produce the good bacteria the gut needs to function optimally,’ says Ansie.
4. Healthy fats
Healthy fats, like peanut butter, are essential to your overall wellbeing. Up your intake by eating avocadoes, olive oil, nuts and nut butters such as almond and cashew. ‘But remember to avoid trans fats and saturated fats,’ advises Ansie. ‘Eat lower-fat chicken, meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs daily.’
5. Omega-3 fatty acids
Proteins high in omega-3 fatty acids are important for supporting the immune system and reducing inflammation, among other things. Make sure you include oily fish like pilchards, mackerel and snoek in your diet. ‘Salmon is also good, but expensive,’ she says. ‘Humble pilchards are also high in omega-3.’
Putting these five items on your grocery list will do much to boost your nutrition, but always remember to stick to healthy eating guidelines as well.
‘Never skip a meal, especially breakfast,’ advises Ansie. ‘You should eat at least one hour after waking. Always eat before your body goes into stress.’ Ansie also emphasises the importance of choosing wholegrain and fresh foods over refined and processed foods.
‘Lastly, drink lots of water and herbal tea and when you eat, don’t forget about portion control.’