Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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The benefits of superfoods

Nandini Saini details the benefits of a variety of superfoods, which are great to add to our balanced food plan

Selecting foods which are good for you is always tough…labeling them as superfoods only raises the bar. Does such a food exist?

Superfoods are nothing but the regular healthy food you have, most of them rich in some component or the other.

Let’s see how some of these benefit you…

Berries as Superfoods - Seniors Today

Berries

  • Blackberries

Boasting more anti-oxidants than straw berry, blueberry or cranberry, Blackberry is considered the King of all berries. They also have components which may increase oral health.

  • Blueberries

These are said to protect the brain from inflammation, as well as boosters of communication between the brain cells. They also improve memory.

  • Cherries

Studies show that people consuming cherries and cherry juice havelower LDL cholesterol levels, as well as controlled blood pressure.

  • Acai

Besides the usual goodness all berries possess, these have high quantities of anthocyanin, an anti-oxidant that fights free radicals and helps fight systemic diseases.

They are used extensively in herbal medicine for a variety of illnesses ranging from viral infections to diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

  • Strawberries

Besides tastingheavenly, Strawberries are packed with Vit C and antioxidants, helping you fight inflammation and infection. They are also packed with phytochemicals, which could protect you from colon cancer.

Fruits as Superfoods - Seniors Today

Fruits

  • Watermelon

At 92% water content, it’s one of the best foods to keep you hydrated. The low calorific value and high water content make ita great option for weight reduction.

It also has vitamins, anti-oxidants in abundance, and helps fight free radicals in the body, potentially protecting you from systemic diseases like diabetes and cardiac illnesses. It’s also good for a healthy skin.

  • Apples

Not for nothing do they say “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”! Rich in fibre, anti-oxidants as well as a lot of multi vitamins, apples can aid weight loss, promote gut health, lower cholesterol and sugar levels.

They contain an anti-oxidant called quercetin, which could help fight certain types of cancers.

  • Avocado

Popular for their taste, these fruits certainly pack a healthy punch. They are loaded with multivitamins, in particular, Vit K, which helps maintain bone structure as well as promote clotting. The folate present helps in maintaininghealthy fetuses.

They have a high fat content (good fat), a requirement of body cells. They might also help fight depression.

  • Olives

Along with high levels of vitamin E, which makes it a super anti-oxidant, they are also rich in oleic acid, a type of monosaturated fatty acid that maintains your lipids. They keep the heart healthy and the blood sugars low.

  • Oranges

An orange can provide you with more than 100% of the body’s daily dose of Vit C. It is also very rich in folate.

  • Kiwi

Containing Vit C and Anti-oxidants in abundance, this fruit increases your immunity levels, and reduces the free radicals in the body, helping in anti-ageing

The high fibre present helps protect the heart and reduces constipation. It also contains carotenoids, which, combined with the Vit C and Anti-oxidants, helps improve ocular health and vision.

  • Banana

Well known for their high fibre, they help with adequate bowel movements, having a probiotic effect at the same time.

What people don’t know is, bananas also contain healthy levels of potassium and multivitamins. The potassium helps protect theheart and lower hypertension.  They are also good antioxidants.

  • Grapes

One of theleading sources of resveratrol, they are heart friendly. They also impart this cardiac friendly goodness to red wine.

  • Tomatoes

Along with a healthy dose of Vit E and C, tomatoes also have high water content (95%), making them extremely beneficial in cases of dehydration.

Anti-oxidants like Lycopene, also found in tomatoes in a high percentage, help to fight heart diseases, diabetes and cancer. They are also good for the skin. Studies show they might protect a person from strokes.

 

Dried fruits and NutsDried fruits and Nuts

  • Prunes

Prunes (dried plums) contain about fifteen vitamins and minerals, making them very nutritious. The presence of anti-oxidants in large quantities helps reduce inflammation and fight the free radicals in the body.

They are extremely rich in polyphenols, a type of plant chemical that boosts bone density. They also show the presence of psyllium, a very effective laxative.

  • Walnuts

Nutritionists regularly prescribe a daily intake of this dry fruit – 3 to 4 pieces every day. That’s because walnuts are little packets of multi vitamins and other essentials and very very good for you.

They deliver a healthy dose of it Vit E, beneficial for skin and hair health. Also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, they protect the heart from damage.

The walnut’s shell looks like a miniature brain, and although it’s purely co incident, walnuts are said to protect the brain and improve memory and cognition.

  • Brazil nuts

They contain large quantities of Selenium, an important ingredient of essential enzymes whichhelp protect the body from infections. They also regularize thyroid functions.

  • Almond

Rich in Vit E as well as fiber, almonds help in weight loss and help keep the skin and hair healthy.

 

Seeds as Super Foods for Seniors Today

Seeds

  • Sunflower seeds

Besides being rich in proteins and fibre, these are also good sources of mono and poly saturated fats, making tem extremely heart friendly. They are also greatanti-oxidants, and haveanti-agingproperties.

  • Flaxseed

Also called linseed, these have a very high fiber content which helps in weight reduction, maintenance and regulation of blood glucose levels as well as blood pressure. It is a rich source of omega 3 amino acids, helping in increasing immunity.

 

Vegetables as Super Foods for Seniors Today

Vegetables

  • Bok choy

Packed with cancer fighting compounds such as Vit C, antioxidants, beta carotene and selenium, theyhelp prevent cell damage and may reduce tumor size.

Their calcium and mineral content is also quite high, and helps in strengthening bones.

  • Shiitake mushrooms

Found to be rich in lipid and polysaccharides, these can lower cholesterol levels. They may also be anti-neoplastic.

  • Watercress

A low calorie count ( 4 cal/ cup) and loaded withvitamin C, lutein and anti-neoplasticphytochemicals, this vegetable is a valuable addition to your plate.

 

  • Broccoli

Eaten raw or cooked, this vegie contains more protein compared to others, making it a smart choice to add to your plate.

  • Asparagus

Not only is asparagus rich in Vit A, C and K, making it a greatanti-oxidant, it also contains chromium, a trace element which helps control diabetes.

The folate contained in asparagus helps in maintaining and boosting brain function.

It also has high levels of asparagine, making it a natural diuretic- beneficial to people suffering from oedema or hypertension.

  • Bell peppers

Available in various colors, bell peppers are good sources of Vit C, carotenoids and anti-oxidants.

They are particularly rich in Lutein, and protect the eyes from macular degeneration.

Leafy greens as Super Foods

 

Leafy greens

  • Spinach

We all know the general benefits of green veggies…rich in iron, folates, and multivitamins. Spinach has all of these. Besides, it is very rich in potassium and helps maintain blood pressure.

It also has a high content of Vit A and K, aiding in tissue repair and clotting, respectively.

Lutein, an anti-oxidant present in large quantities, helps in slowing and treating ocular diseases like macular degeneration. It also helps maintain cognition.

  • Swiss chard

Like all green veggies, these are low in calories, rich in multi vitamins and antioxidants, and can help reduce obesity, diabetes and cardiac diseases.

It also as very high content of Vit K , which prevents clotting and bleeding disorders, and Vit A, beneficial for good eyesight .

  • Mustard greens

These greens have a high content of Vit K, which aids blood clotting and strengthening of bones.

 

Sprouts as Super Foods

Sprouts

  • Brussel sprouts

The bitter taste may be a turn off, but these sprouts are low in calorie, high in fibre, making them ideal for weight reduction and good for your bowels. They also help control cardiac diseases and diabetes.

They are one of the best plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids, essential to the body.

They contain high levels of Vit C, required for the repair of body tissues; Also high in it K, which helps maintain clotting of blood.

They also contain phytochemicals called glucocyanates, which might impart anti-cancer properties to these sprouts.

  • Broccoli sprouts

These are 3 to 5 day old baby broccoli, and great sources of proteins, fibre as well as multivitamins. They are also very rich in sulforaphane, a chemical responsible for most of the health benefits of these crunchy sprouts.

This chemical gives tem anti neoplastic properties, helpingthe body fight cancer. In addition, theyhelp protect the heart and brain, and haveanti-hypertensive and anti-diabetic properties.

Meat

  • Turkey breast

High in protein and with a low calorie count, this meat is ideal for a healthy diet. It could also aid weight reduction.

  • Lean Beef

In moderation, lean beef is high in proteins, multivitamins and selenium, ananti-oxidant vital to the body. It could help reduce blood pressure and diabetes.

  • Chicken breast

A low calorie count and high protein content makes it an ideal choice for weight loss. It also helps in building and strengthening muscle mass.

  • Lamb

Not only is lamb an excellent protein source, it also has large quantities of iron and can reduce anaemia.

It also is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and zinc, and augments healing of tissues.

Fish and seafood as Super Foods

 

Fish and seafood

  • Salmon

One of the most preferred choice in meats, salmon is an oily fish that has great taste and super nutrition as well. Veryrich in omega 3 fatty acids, it helps improve hearthealth, in the development of brain, repairing tissue.

A good source of selenium, it also improves thyroid function.

  • Oysters

Low in calories, high in proteins, vitamins and trace elements, these are very nutritious. The Vit B12 content is over a 100% of your daily requirement, as is selenium.

They are also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, whichhelp reduce bad cholesterol and increase thegood one in the body. They keep the heart and the brain healthy.

 

Seaweed - Seniors Today

Seaweed

Sea vegetables that are filled with nutrition, they contain bioactive compounds not found in land vegetable. They are packed withanti-oxidants, folate, iodine and Vit K- and help with clotting, fighting free radicals.

Eggs - Seniors Today

 

Eggs

Though eggs have been a preferred breakfast for the longest time, it was recommended thatwe limit the use of eggs as the yolk has high cholesterol levels. Now, however, it is believed that eggs when eaten in moderation are very healthy.

High in protein, eggs are recommended for weight loss as well as for increasing muscle strength.

The multivitamins and anti-oxidants they contain help increase immunity as well as general good health. They are also found to be rich in Folic acid, ensuring a healthy pregnancy, with reduced chances of neural defects in the fetus.

Grains as Super Foods

 

Grains

  • Bran flakes

Made of the outer layer of wheat kernel, it is extremely rich in fibre(about 30 mgs of bran can provide 99 % of your daily requirement), which makes it a natural laxative. It can also help in weight reduction.

It is known to lower the LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL levels (good cholesterol). It thus improves the lipid profile, and keeps the heart healthy.

  • Steel cut oats

Less processed than the regular oats, they boast of higher fibre content and are a better choice for weight loss. The fiber and high protein content together means they keep you feeling full for longer, reducing those in between snacks.

  • Barley

A good source of beta glucan, it could help lower cholesterol and control hyper tension.

  • Brown rice

The fibre, vitamins and minerals contained in the rice husk provide you withanti-inflammatory protection. They are said to protect the heart, and also reduce diabetes.

They are one of the best sources of magnesium, and helps protect the bone structure.

  • Wheatgerm

Though removed from processed wheat grains, this is a very nutritious part of the kernel, rich in folate, magnesium, multivitamins and zinc. As such, it is a very goodanti-oxidant.

 

Lentils and legumes

 

Lentils and legumes

  • Lentils

Well known fact- lentils are some of the best vegetarian sources of protein. A cup of lentils will provide almost 18Gms of protein, which helps in weight loss and control.

They are also very rich in iron, zinc, magnesium and multi vitamins, making them amazinganti-oxidants. Thefolate content helps pregnant women carry babies to term and protects babies from neural deficits.

Being good sources of phytochemicals, they could protect against systemic diseases like diabetes and cancer.

  • Black beans

These are known for their high fibre and protein levels, and ideal options for weight loss. They prevent or reduce hair fall. They prevent constipation and may have anti neoplastic properties, imparted by the selenium black beans contain (they are one of the very few foods that contain selenium).

The calcium and phosphorus present in beans helps maintaining the bone structure.

 

Dairy

Dairy

  • Soy milk

Not only is it a rich source of vegetable protein, it also as large quantities of calcium and Vit D, almost as much as Cow’s milk.

  • Kefir

A fermented drink made from cows milk, it’s similar to yoghurt, just thinner in consistency. It can also be prepared with coconut or rice milk.

It retains the benefits of milk and is rich in protein, calcium and multi vitamins; it’s also a good probiotic.

  • Yogurt

Yogurt is one of thehealthiest foods available. Not only is it rich in protein and calcium, it also as a probiotic effect which protects the intestines and replaces the destroyed bacterial layer found in them.

Greek yogurt is also a good alternative, with almost twice the protein content as theregular one.

Green tea as a Super Food

Green tea

Considered healthy since ancient times, tea isknown to prevent a large number of diseases. It is said to help preventheart conditions such as atherosclerosis.

It contains Catechin, a powerful anti-oxidantwhich, along with the caffeine helps in weight loss.

Fats and oils as Super Foods

 

Fats and oils

  • Peanut butter

Not only is this spread high in proteins, it also contains arginine, an amino acid that keeps blood vessels healthy.

  • Canola oil

Very rich in alpha linolenic acid, 1tbsp. can fulfil your daily requirement of omega 3 fatty acids. It’s also quite rich in Vitamin C.

Tubers - as Super Food

 

Tubers 

  • Sweet potato

An excellent source of beta carotene, they contain almost 400% of your daily dose of Vit A. Not only do they protect your eye, they also increase the immunity and keep the heart and kidneys healthy.

  • Potato

Filled with phytonutrients like carotenoids and flavonoids, as well as high amounts of Vit C, they are good anti-oxidants and may also help lower cholesterol. A high fiber content as well as potassium levels help controlling hypertension and maintain brain functioning.

Edamame as Super Foods

 

Edamame

Immature soybeans, they none the less pack quite a punch! A high protein content, fiber, multi vitamins make it a very healthy choice of food. They are good for weight control, provide a vegetarian source of protein and help protect the gut.

Studies show that the flavonoids it contains may help women (especially Asian), fight menopause.

Do remember, no food, however healthy it might be, is a complete meal by itself. An ideal diet is one that comprises of fats, carbs, proteins and multivitamins. Always combine fruits, veggies, meats, dairy products and grains in a proper proportion so you can reap the benefits.

Dr Nandini Saini
B.H.M.S,  D.B.Sc , Diploma in Aesthetics. (GCTA, Australia) Practicing homoeopath and aesthetician with an experience of over 15 years

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