Article fact-checked and approved by Dr. Didi Emokpare
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The term ‘super food’ is defined as a food with an exceptional concentration of nutrients. Sometimes the hype makes more of an impact than the actual food, but then occasionally an edible gem sashays to our attention and wows in all its health-giving glory. Read on to find out why the following greats rightfully deserve their ‘super food’ crown.
Chia – This tiny seed has a ginormous nutritional profile. It is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, and is pumped with calcium, manganese and phosphorous. Just 2 tablespoons of these super seeds provide up to a third of your recommended daily fibre intake. Your bones and teeth get a splash of support with every seed consumed, due to a wealth of bone-supporting minerals. Chia helps to strike a favourable balance of HDL and LDL cholesterol, and helps keep blood sugar levels perfectly poised. Its cocktail of nutrients make it a hit with the heart, so sprinkle raw over everything and anything – salads, yoghurt, porridge, dessert and fruit!
Hemp Seed – Hemp is celebrated as a rich plant-source of protein (not to be confused with the not-so-healthy ‘hemp’ that gets you high…) It contains all 9 essential amino acids to help repair and heal the body. Hemp is easily absorbed and performs vital tasks such as DNA preservation. Hemp’s unique cocktail of essential fats makes it a whiz at protecting the body from inflammation, promoting cardiovascular health, feeding the brain and sparking up the metabolism! Phew!
Sauerkraut – This fermented cabbage dish is teeming with ‘friendly’ bacteria which helps to support healthy digestion, immunity and overall top notch health. This age-old technique which has recently become very ‘in vogue’ due to growing awareness of its impressive powers. Cabbage contains natural isothiocyanate compounds which are hailed for their cancer-protective properties. Unpasteurised sauerkraut is brimming with ‘friendly’ lactobacillus bacteria which increase population of healthy gut flora in the intestinal tract. This supports the immune system to battle infection, disease and digestive ailments such as constipation and bloating. It complements meat and fish dishes perfectly.
Quinoa – This is a grain with a difference. For a start it contains all the 9 essential amino acids making it a ‘complete’ protein source. It contains whopping levels of fibre, magnesium and iron. Its high levels of antioxidants help to preserve the health of mitochondria – the energy stations in our cells, as well as protect red blood cells from free radical attack. Quinoa is also a rich source of Riboflavin – vitamin B2 – essential for energy production in the brain and muscle cells. It tastes delicious hot or cold and is easy to prepare. Try our fried quinoa recipe, inspired by Nigerian fried rice.
Coconut Water – Not only is coconut water deliciously thirst quenching, but it contains electrolytes that exactly mimic our blood stream. Electrolytes are the essential minerals which we require to stay adequately hydrated, so this is the perfect drink when out in the heat or during exercise to replenish lost stores which we sweat out. It is also swimming with B vitamins and antioxidants. Your best bet is to stick a straw in a coconut to slurp it at its purest, but unless you spend most of your life propped up against palm tree this isn’t always possible! Always go for 100% pure coconut water, without any added sugars, flavours or nasties.
Apple Cider Vinegar – This is an all-singing, all-dancing health tonic. A potent anti-septic, anti-biotic and anti-bacterial agent, apple cider vinegar spring cleans your body with a splash of essential vitamins and minerals. It also stimulates the production of stomach juices required for healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients. Drink a tablespoon in water with fresh lemon slices in the morning to kick start your system, cleanse and set an ideal pH balance in your body before you’ve even eaten breakfast. A few teaspoons in water before you eat a meal is also shown to alert the brain when you are full moreefficiently – helping to curb overeating, and accelerate the metabolic processes. Go for raw, unpasteurised cider vinegar.
Radiant is a bi-annual print and digital health magazine dedicated to the discerning African woman and her journey to wellness through health, beauty and culture. Available at Barnes & Noble stores and other retailers (see stockists) and online. Ships worldwide. Subscribe to our newsletter and get a free digital copy of issue No.06.