Being back at university and away from home means I have to shop and cook for myself. And as a student there is often a trade-off between food and fun, especially when it seems that eating healthily comes at a price. But with a bit of research, I have found that eating well doesn’t have to be expensive and incorporating a few key superfoods into my meal plans will make all the difference to my bank balance and lifestyle. It’s all in the planning.
Superfoods are packed full of nutrients that work to benefit your body. There are some studies that show certain foods could help fight off diseases such as heart disease, strokes and cancer. Although, there are hundreds of different superfoods you could add to your diet, it is not always possible to incorporate them all. Some are so exotic and expensive that you’d much prefer to sit in front of your computer screen crying with a bar of chocolate. Luckily for you, we’ve got our pick of top 10 superfoods that you can purchase from your local supermarket to add to all your favourite dishes…And who said eating well couldn’t be fun?
Onions, of all things, are full of disease fighting properties. They contain a high amount of quercetin, an antioxidant that protects damaged cells and even strengthens them. They also help to raise good cholesterol levels, lower high blood pressure and thin the blood to prevent blood clots.
Tip: Add them to your diet with tasty meals such as stir-fries and roast dinners or chop them up and mix them into scrambled eggs, pasta sauces, soups or stews.
Garlic is another curious superfood that has many benefits for our bodies. It can increase the immune function by promoting the growth of white cells, which help to fight off germs. Studies have shown that garlic can slow the growth of harmful bacteria, yeasts and fungi and has even been a proven alternative to antibiotics. It can also help lower LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Tip: Use fresh or dried garlic to add taste to your dishes such as vegetables, lamb, chicken, pork or even stir-fries. If you want a more powerful effect, try a side of garlic bread or garlic mash.
Broccoli has it all! It’s packed full of vitamins C, A and K, along with calcium, magnesium, fibre, beta-carotene and other antioxidants. Studies have found that eating non-starchy veg like broccoli can reduce the risk of some cancers. It is considered one of the most powerful immunity boosters available.
Tip: Mix broccoli into your salad, soups and pasta dishes or lightly steam them to add as a side dish to your dinner.
Blueberries are a well-known source of powerful nutrients. They contain vitamins C and K, as well as fibre, manganese and other high levels of antioxidants. The healthy fruit can help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory changes, and improve your cardiovascular health. Blueberries also contain catechins, which can activate fat-burning genes in abdominal fat cells to help with weight loss. Not only do they do all that, but the teeny berries can decrease free radical levels and prevent ageing.
Tip: Grab a handful of berries, whether they are fresh, dried, frozen or even as jam and throw them into your morning smoothie, cereal, or mixing them into your yoghurt.
Nuts contain healthy oils, fibre, vitamins, minerals, potent phytochemicals and amino acid. They are a source of protein and are beneficial for the heart by reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Nuts also help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels yet maintain healthy levels of HDL cholesterol.
Tip: You can add nuts into any of your meals or even as snacks. Sprinkle them on salads, grind them to marinade your fish or chicken or use nut flour to make homemade dishes. Health advisers recommend walnuts as they are packed with omega-3 and are filled with anti-inflammatory properties.
Kale contains phytonutrient, a substance found in certain plants, that reduces the risk of some cancers, including breast and ovarian. Studies have shown that phytonutrients trigger the liver to produce enzymes that neutralise cancer-causing substances. Kale also contains more iron than beef, making it a pretty hefty superfood.
Tip: Add kale to smoothies or as a leafy base to your salads. You can even fry it up and mix into your stir-fry for extra crispiness.
Avocado is often overlooked but its mix of healthy fats and nutrients make it a top superfood. It contains oleic acid, lutein, folate vitamin E, monounsaturated fats and glutathione, which can all protect your body from heart disease, cancer and degenerative eye and brain diseases.
Tip: The best part is you can add avocado to anything! Try spreading it on your toast with a bit of black pepper, adding it to your smoothie to make it thicker and creamier or even use as a side dish.
Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, is full of health benefits. It is full of antioxidants that have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and boost heart health. Chocolate can also reduce inflammation and LDL cholesterol, as well as prevent cell damage.
Tip: To gain the health benefits of chocolate we have to take moderate doses of around 29 grams of chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa. Add yours to your breakfast or as a snack in the afternoon.
Salmon is a rich in protein, vitamin D, selenium, B2, B3, B6 and even B12, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. With all that, salmon is able to protect you from cancer, cardiovascular problems, macular degeneration, depression and cognitive decline.
Tip: You should aim for two servings a week. So try mixing up your lunchtime sandwich with a salmon filling or maybe a salmon salad? Why not even pimp out your breakfast with slices of salmon.
Beans are full of B vitamins, calcium, potassium and folate, which all contribute to a healthy lifestyle. They help raise the levels of the hormone leptin, which curbs appetite while maintaining a healthy brain, cell and skin function and even reduces blood pressure and stroke risk.
Tip: The best way to add beans to your diet is to add them as a side dish instead of bread or potatoes. This way they will leave you feeling fuller for longer with a boost of energy. Try mixing up a dish of beans with your favourite sauce or spices.
There are many types of superfoods that can suit your diet and taste, which all offer different ways to benefit your body. Our diets should be based around these types of foods to increase our health and repair our bodies. Plus, with a wide variety of tasty ways to incorporate them into our meals, why would you want to be without them?