Nutrition

5 fabulous superfoods with historic traditions to add to your diet

If you're keen to shape up your diet and ensure your intake of nutritious food increases to benefit your health, check out these 5 superfoods with heaps of historic traditions. Benenden Hospital’s nutritional therapist Abir Hamza-Goodacre shares some valuable advice on which foods to look out for.

1. Ginger

The story of ginger dates back 5,000 years. Historically, root of ginger was used in India and China as a tonic to treat common ailments, while to the Romans it was a strong symbol of wealth and fertility.

Ginger contains a specific compound called gingerol, which is thought to be responsible for a multitude of health benefits.

Studies show that ginger can help relieve nausea, decrease fasting blood sugar levels, increase working memory and reduce inflammation.

Ginger can be used fresh and in powdered form both in meals and teas.

2. Goji berries

A staple in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, goji berries are credited with improving vitality, energy and longevity. They are one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods, with up to 12 times the antioxidant levels of blueberries. They are also loaded with nutrients that may help prevent eye disease, protect against skin damage and
have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. You can find goji berries in dried or powdered form at supermarkets and health food shops. Try adding them to a salad or in smoothies if using the powdered form.

3. Exotic mushrooms

For centuries, Asian cultures have understood the healing benefits of mushrooms, incorporating them in food, teas and elixirs to combat everything from chronic inflammation to poor gut health. Try:

  • Shiitake to ward off pathogens

  • Maitake to stimulate your immune system

  • Reishi to fight infection

  • Chaga to maintain healthy blood-pressure levels

4. Cruciferous vegetables

A staple of the European diet for millennia, this group of vegetables includes broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and collards.

With an astonishing concentration of vitamin A carotenoids, and an unusually high content of vitamin C and manganese, they are also an excellent source of fibre. Kale and collards in particular also offer a megadose of vitamin K, a nutrient increasingly linked to chemopreventive properties and regulation of our inflammatory response.

5. Green tea

This type of tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant – the same as that used to make other types of tea such as black, white and oolong tea.

Unlike other teas, however, green tea undergoes very little processing, which helps to maximise its antioxidant and polyphenol content. These attributes have been shown to boost metabolism, improve oral hygiene, enhance insulin sensitivity and decrease several risk factors for heart disease. To add this superfood into your routine, simply start by brewing one or two cups per day.

 

Remember: as no single food contains all the nutrients for health and wellness, incorporate them into a balanced and diverse diet for maximum benefit.