Every day you hear about some new food that has amazing life changing properties and will hold back the years, give you glowing skin and protect you against many ailments. Problem is, these superfoods are typically so unusual and hard to source, people either give up trying to find them, or they are to expensive to be eaten on a daily basis. There are some foods however, that are just as ‘super’ but are as everyday as fish and chips and do not cost the earth, making them ideal to include as part of your daily diet. So what makes a food super? The author of Feed Your Face, and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu, says, “For me, superfoods are ones that have been clinically proven to have a positive impact on the skin. While certain superfoods contain protein, fiber, etc., a superfood has science behind it that proves that it can improve and enhance the performance and condition of the skin.” With this in mind, we have picked four of the best ordinary superfoods and here are the reasons why you should eat them:
Did you know that certain berries can protect you against the harmful rays of the sun? In particular, blackberries and raspberries can have an amazing effect against sun damage as they contain a type of ellagic acid that helps protect against sunburn and skin damage. Moreover, blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries have been shown to shield the brain from memory loss and contribute to enhanced memories in various studies, making them serious superfoods. If you include these fruits in your diets you can actually improve learning capacity and lower stress. In fact, blueberries are among the best source of antioxidants that you can easily purchase and incorporate into your diet. Berries are also high in water and fiber and this helps to regulate your blood sugar while cutting your sugar cravings. These superfoods are loaded with phytonutrients, a natural bioactive compound that works with minerals and vitamins to ensure mental and physical health.
Most of us just add a few bunches of this cruciferous vegetable to our salads, but studies show that you should make the effort to eat more of these superfoods as increased intake can reduce the risk of cancers, especially breast and prostate varieties. It has been shown that daily consumption of watercress results in a significant decrease in lymphocyte (white blood cell) DNA damage, which is an important event in cancer development. It is though that this is because watercress is a rich source of glucosinolate-derivatives, which show a range of anti-cancer activities. In one study, when smokers ate watercress with each meal for three days, the activation of a key carcinogen in tobacco was inhibited, now that’s what I call superfoods! Watercress is also vital for skin and eye health as it is a good source of key nutrients and carotenoids, such as lutein and beta-carotene, which are associated with the maintenance of eye and skin health. Watercress is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, and a source of folate, calcium, iron, and vitamin E. It contains a variety of phytochemicals, including glucosinolates, lutein, flavonoids, and hydroxycinammic acids and is recommended by the Department of Health to help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.
These spicy peppers contain capsaicin, which is the component in them that makes them hot, and it is this that exerts strong anti-inflammatory effects and possesses proven anti-cancer and heart-health properties, making these our third choice in superfoods. The way capsaicin works is by depleting or interfering with substance P, a chemical involved in transmitting pain impulses to the brain. The properties of capsaicin make it an ideal option for relieving pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetic neuropathy. Capsaicin is used to relieve muscle pain, joint pain, or nerve pain. The good thing about capsaicin is that it is available over the counter; you do not need a prescription for capsaicin from your doctor. And, if that still weren’t enough, they increase endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals that boost your mood.
Some people find that taste of our fourth choice of superfoods – curly kale – a tad bitter, but there are ways of sweetening this superfood by cooking it briefly in flavoured oils that still retain the health busting qualities, but add a little zest to the vegetable. Kale is rich in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, including vitamins K, A, C, & E, as well as magnesium, fiber, calcium, and omega-3 fats. This means this vegetable is not only great for the body but for the skin as well. Kale contains carotenoids which help block sunlight-induced inflammation in the skin, which leads to wrinkles, can cause skin cancer, and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, in part because of their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. Kale is also good for your eyes as the lutein and zeaxanthin abundant in it, and spinach and collard greens exert protective antioxidant effects in the retina, and, accordingly, they appear to help prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, and prostatic changes.