Our All-Time Favourite Superfoods
Ah, the topic of superfoods! At Ethos Retreats, we try to take advantage of any opportunity to add superfoods to our diet to boost the overall health benefits that can be derived from every dish.
In no particular order, here are our top 10 all-time favourite superfoods. Bon appétit!
Blueberries are considered by many to be the king of antioxidant-rich foods, having the highest antioxidant capacity of all popular fruits and vegetables.
Low in calories but high in nutrients, fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K, numerous studies have shown that regular blueberry consumption can not only lower blood pressure but can have an anti-diabetes effect on the body, improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels.
What’s more, blueberries are sweet, colourful and easily enjoyed either fresh or frozen. But in order to reap the most health benefits, blueberries should be enjoyed raw (versus incorporated into baked goods). We love adding blueberries to our smoothies or sprinkling them on top of our smoothie bowls as one of several healthy topping options.
Used in India for thousands of years as a spice and an herb with medicinal properties, turmeric may just be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence.
A spice with a strong, earthy flavour, turmeric boasts a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin which has been shown to be effective at reducing the inflammation related to arthritis, diabetes and other diseases. But because curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, it helps to consume it with black pepper — a natural substance that can enhance the absorption of this potent compound by 2,000%.
Add to that, due to the chemical structure of this powerhouse antioxidant, curcumin can neutralize free radicals — one of the primary mechanisms behind many diseases and the aging process — while also stimulating your body's own antioxidant enzymes.
3. FLAX SEEDS
Serving as an alternative protein source for people who don’t eat meat, flax seeds are a great plant-based protein rich in the amino acids arginine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid. There are two types: brown and golden — and both are equally nutritious.
Regular consumption of flax seeds have not only been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and the risk of stroke, but it can also be especially helpful for those suffering from high blood pressure to add it to their diets.
If all of that doesn’t get you excited about the powers of this superfood, get this: flax seeds may help you manage your weight by controlling your appetite, keeping you feeling fuller longer, and may be able to lower blood sugar due to their insoluble fiber content. With so much fiber packed into each tiny seed, adding flax seeds to your diet can promote regular bowel movement and can improve your overall digestive health. Boom!
Garlic grows in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient used in cooking due to its strong smell and delicious taste. In ancient cultures, garlic was used to reduce fatigue and enhance the work capacity of laborers — cited as one of the earliest "performance enhancing” substances.
A plant in the onion family that’s not only low in calories but also rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese, high doses of garlic appear to improve blood pressure for those suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure).
Garlic contains antioxidants that protect against cell damage and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Taking garlic supplements are known to boost the function of the immune system and can help to prevent and reduce the severity of symptoms of the flu and the common cold. In some instances, taking supplements may be as effective as regular medications.
Bottom line: you’ll not only protect yourself against Dracula but you can also fight off the flu and common cold by adding more of this potent superfood to your diet.
"Beans, beans the magic fruit. The more you eat…" Well, it’s true what they say: The most common side effect of eating beans are gas and intestinal discomfort. But adding beans to your diet includes a whole host of benefits that we believe far exceed some of their less desirable side effects.
For starters, beans can be an excellent alternative source of protein for vegans and vegetarians. Lower in calories and saturated fat than other protein sources (including those made from dairy), people who consume beans may be less likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular health problems.
Because beans are high in fiber, they can help to lower and stabilize blood glucose levels, prevent food cravings and even prevent diabetes. People tend to report feeling fuller after consuming beans, which may prevent overeating and even assist with weight loss. What’s more, research has shown that a variety of beans (especially black beans) can enhance gut health by improving the intestinal barrier function and increasing the number of healthy bacteria.
Beans can be tasty and filling as a standalone salad or as a garnish to other salads and we just love featuring beans in a variety of our dishes as an alternative to meat. So sing it loud and proud, folks: “…So let’s have beans with every meal!"
We go nuts for walnuts! Walnuts not only taste great but are also a rich source of several vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Walnuts are packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids (a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats) and produce an oil that’s a rich emollient, known for its anti-aging properties. An ounce of walnuts (roughly about 14 halves) contains 4 grams of protein, 18 grams of fat and are about 185 calories.
Known to improve cognitive functioning and memory, eating walnuts regularly has also been linked to a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We love to eat them raw or chop them up and enjoy them as a crunchy addition to our favourite salads, vegetable dishes, and desserts.
Ginger is among the healthiest (and we think most delicious!) spices on the planet. Used for years as a traditional sea sickness remedy, there is some evidence that suggests that ginger may be as effective as prescription medication.
Ginger may also relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery, and in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, but may be the most effective when it comes to soothing pregnancy-related nausea and fighting symptoms of the flu and the common cold. Add to that, ginger appears to be effective against menstrual pain when taken at the beginning of a menstrual period and has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain.
The bioactive substance in fresh ginger is gingerol, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and has been shown to help lower the risk of infections. Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice. We love adding ginger to our curries, soups and smoothies for a powerful peppery kick!
Broccoli is a nutrient-rich powerhouse vegetable full of vitamins and minerals that may enhance your health by reducing inflammation, improving blood sugar control, boosting immunity and promoting heart health.
Closely related to Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and cabbage, (all cruciferous vegetables), broccoli is one of the best sources of sulforaphane, an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Broccoli is a great source of vitamins K and C, folate (folic acid) and potassium and is rich in fiber and antioxidants — both of which may support healthy bowel function and digestive health. Bowel regularity and a strong community of healthy bacteria within your colon are two vital components to digestive health and eating foods rich in fiber and antioxidants may play a role in maintaining healthy gut function.
Broccoli can be a great addition to your diet, enjoyed either cooked or raw. We personally can’t get enough of these little green trees and enjoy them as a welcome addition to most of our meals, including as a secret ingredient to our smoothies!
Spinach is one of the most nutritionally-dense plants out there. A leafy green vegetable that originated in Persia, spinach is low in calories and carbs but is high in carotenoids, iron, folate, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
Eating spinach promotes overall eye health, protects eyes from damaging UV light, reduces oxidative stress, helps prevent cancer, and reduces blood pressure levels.
What’s more, spinach is high in insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool as food passes through your digestive system, helping to prevent constipation and supporting healthy bowel function.
10. GREEN TEA
Loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body, including improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer, green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
Drinking green tea on a regular basis is associated with a reduced risk of stroke and some studies suggest that it may also be helpful in preventing dental cavities, reducing stress and chronic fatigue, treating skin conditions, and improving arthritis by reducing inflammation.
What’s more, an extra perk of consuming green tea is that it includes a powerful antioxidant, catechins, which may both fight and even prevent cell damage, as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Well, there you have it — our top 10 all-time favourite superfoods. Those that didn’t make the top 10 list but are staples in our pantry and regular additions to our meals include: lemons, beets, maca, cinnamon, chia seeds, kale and almonds. To your health! x