Monday 28 March 2016

FIVE FAVOURITES: 5 Superfoods you should know about!

I know you might think that superfoods can be a bit of a fad. I sometimes think that too! Now and again though, there are some foods that come into the market that seem to stick around. Some foods that have been eaten for thousands of years to help heal the body and increase wellness and vitality. For me there are a handful of foods that I like to have in my diet almost on a weekly basis...

1) Goji Berries

I guess the main reason for me eating goji berries regular is because I love the taste of them. I love the chewiness they give and almost a zingy fruity taste without being too sweet. Now, this is all very well, but are they any good for you? Goji berries have been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine. They are part of the nightshade family and are native to the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet and Mongolia, the goji berry is now grown in many other countries as well. 
They are loaded with beta-carotene which can promote healthy skin, they can help boost the immune system and also help protect the eyes. They have a large amount of Vitamin C and so can help reduce cold symptoms. They are also an excellent source of anti-oxidants, fat-free, low in calories and high in fibre - which is great with aiding digestion and helping our toilet habits!
The only downsides are that you must be careful how many you eat if you are on blood medication and also diabetes medication as they may interfere with it.

I like to have around a handful a day - either in my smoothies, on top of my acai bowls, in a cup of hot water and lemon or just as a nice snack.

2) Bee Pollen

Firstly I love the smell of bee pollen, it's almost floral - which I guess its going to be! Those tiny little golden granules are bursting with health benefits though - but what's all the 'buzz' about (get it?? ha ha).
Well, according to Kimberley Snyder...

"those tiny little golden beads are a wonderful source of protein. They are also packed with valuable amino acids, including choline and phenylalanine, which help to control hunger and appetite. They are also packed with vitamins, including B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.I’ve found that consuming bee pollen is so nutritionally complete that it even helps my hunger levels stay consistent, and it definitely helps balance cravings. Studies show that diets containing bee pollen have effectively increased metabolism and helped improve muscle mass, so it is definitely a valuable part of your meal plan when striving for healthy weight loss and control."
Is it bee friendly though? I've heard some horror stories about honey and how queen bees can have their wings removed so they can't leave the nest and other horrible things I don't want to go into. I believe the way it works is that the bees fly through a pollen trap when they enter each comb in the hive. This then can gently loosen off some of the pollen without doing any damage to the bees. I really hope this is the case. Just make sure when you buy bee pollen it is of a high quality and if you are lucky enough to know a bee keeper, ask them if you can buy some!

I like to have mine either sprinkled on salads or on top of smoothies. You can have it on your granola in the morning too. Some people also like to have it ontop of a spoonful of coconut oil in the morning to give you energy (it's called 'energy in a spoon') but I don't think I can stomach a spoonful of coconut oil any time of the day, let alone in the morning.
3) Maca Powder

I've used Maca powder in my smoothies for quite some time now. I can struggle with hormone 'issues' now and again and so I like to take it to help balance my body. It's been used for centuries to help the body function in a number of ways.
According to it has a large number of health benefits...
"Maca is rich in vitamin B vitamins, C, and E. It provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids.
Maca is widely used to promote sexual function of both men and women. It serves as a boost to your libido and increases endurance. At the same time it balances your hormones and increases fertility.
Maca relieves menstrual issues and menopause. It alleviates cramps, body pain, hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, and depression. If you are pregnant or lactating you should avoid taking maca.
Within days of using maca your energy level may increase. It is also known for increasing stamina. Many athletes take maca for peak performance. If you find yourself tired most of the time, experiment with maca to see if it helps. Just a small amount could be exactly what you need for a boost! 
Maca helps your overall health in a number of ways. It supplies iron and helps restore red blood cells, which aids anemia and cardiovascular diseases. 
Maca keeps your bones and teeth healthy and allows you to heal from wounds more quickly. When used in conjunction with a good workout regime you will notice an increase in muscle mass.
But be very cautious if you have a cancer related to hormones like testicular and ovarian, among others. If you have liver issues or high blood pressure you should ask your doctor before taking maca. 
Many people take maca for skin issues, as for some people it helps to clear acne and blemishes. Another benefit for your skin is that is decreases sensitivity. In hot or cold weather, maca may help your skin withstand extreme temperatures. 
If you find yourself overcome with anxiety, stress, depression or mood swings, maca may help alleviate these symptoms, though of the evidence is anecdotal. Some have reported an increase in mental energy and focus."

Wowsers! That's one powerful superfood! Definitely one to keep in your diet!

4) Chia Seeds

Chia seeds came into the limelight a few years ago and became very trendy. Nobody had really heard of them before and then all of a sudden they were everywhere! Chia seed puddings were what all the health cafes were banging on about and even I have been through a phase of eating this little seed a hell of a lot! I feel though that they are here to stay now. Known for their fibre and protein, they can really help to aid digestion and can also be used as an egg substitute in baking - just don't get one of those little dudes in your teeth, bloody hell you will now about it ha ha!

Ok, so here we go, these have some serious health benefits...

A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains:
Fiber: 11 grams.
Protein: 4 grams.
Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.
They are high in antioxidants (fighting free radicals in the body)
They have a massive amount of protein gram for gram
They have a huge amount of fibre in such a tiny seed too.
Chia Seeds contain Omega-3s to help with brain function and skin health.
They can also help with bones as they have a good amount of calcium too.

So, that weird looking, tadpole like chia seed pudding may not be something to pass up on. Why not check out my recipe here which tells you how I make my puddings. I also like to add them to acai bowls and smoothies (just make sure you drink your smoothie straight away, otherwise it can set and go a bit gloopy). Try incorporating some into your diet and see the difference.

5) Cacao Nibs and Cacao Powder

I have been eating these crunchy little nibs for quite some time now. Strangely though, if you eat them by themselves they don't taste so great, but if you eat them with something else they can give it such a great chocolate flavour.
Raw cacao is good for you too. It's classed as a bit of a super food due to it's anti-oxidant properties. It does however have some controversial stories about it though. Although nothing has been scientifically proven, some people say that raw cacao can be quite addictive and also can be very stimulating to the body so I wouldn't recommend having it in large doses.

I adore the taste of this though and the crunchy nibs give such great texture and bite to my acai bowls. 
According to

  • It is packed with powerful antioxidants. According to Survival Monkey, unprocessed, raw cacao has an ORAC score of 28,000. Dark chocolate (with an ORAC score of 13,120) has been regaled for its antioxidant content, but raw cacao contains even more health benefits. Antioxidants purportedly lower blood pressure and have a protective effect against many diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
  • It may satisfy female cravings. During a woman's menstrual cycle, she may crave chocolate. The scientific community has yet to tack on an official reason as to why, but many people believe it is because chocolate, or rather the cacao from which it comes, naturally contains magnesium, which women may need during their cycles.
  • It contains important essential fats. Though the word fat has taken on a highly negative connotation when it comes to health, fat is actually required in a healthy diet. Most people now know that salmon and olive oil contain a healthy dose of "good fats," but did you know that cacao is another great way to get heart-healthy fats into your diet?
Due to some of the conflicting information on raw cacao, you're probably best to check with your doctor or GP first if you decide to introduce it to your diet - Just to be on the safe side!

As with all superfoods, as they are packed with so much nutrition we must be careful not to overdose on them. Everything that we like to eat should always be in small doses, whether it be kale or a piece of cake! Use your common sense and if you think something is not suiting your body then don't eat it - simple as that! I like to combine these foods in my diet most weeks, but generally in small amounts and not all the time.

I hope that you found this post useful and thanks so much for reading!

Emmaline x


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