Long ago Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food.” This statement may hold the key to offsetting the effects of today’s diseases and ailments.
We all need to be mindful of what we eat and drink in order to achieve and maintain optimal health and wellness. The food we eat must be considered not only as a source of energy that keeps us going, but above all as a source of nourishment and protection against minor and chronic diseases.
Although there are no such “superfoods,” the term is often used to describe foods with medicinal or putative health values. In general, superfoods are healthy food options that have that extra something that appeals especially to those looking to optimize their health while meeting the daily physical and mental demands of life. The following list is by no means exhaustive and the foods it contains should only be consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet. There is no good or bad food as every food contributes and plays a role in our health and well-being. Of course, individual needs are very different; depending on health status, nutritional status, age, gender, physical activity and physiological needs. Therefore, what is healthy for one may be insufficient or insufficient for another. As such, the foods selected for this article are just a handful of many, all of which play an essential role in our overall health and well-being
- Wild and brown rice
These are a good source of B vitamins, low in fat and ideal sources of complex carbohydrates, which is particularly beneficial for those with gluten or wheat intolerance.
- Pulses and legumes (chickpeas, green and split peas, beans & lentils)
With the exception of soybeans and peanuts, legumes are generally low in fat and cholesterol free. They are an adequate source of protein, especially when supplemented with grains. In addition, they are high in complex carbohydrates and fiber, especially soluble fiber, which help lower blood cholesterol levels. Legumes have a low glycemic index, which helps maintain steady blood sugar levels. They are a good source of iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and the B vitamins.
Beef is a good source of protein, B vitamins, zinc and iron. Lean cuts are not high in fat. Beef is good for health when eaten in moderation and properly prepared. Organic beef is considered BSE-free and also free of antibiotics and growth hormones.
- Oily fish
Oily fish include salmon, mackerel, kipper, herring, sardines, whitebait, and tuna. They are excellent sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to be effective in preventing heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. Oily fish also helps in minimizing the symptoms of arthritis. Most fish are a good source of selenium, an antioxidant mineral.
Yogurt is a good source of protein and calcium, which is important for maintaining healthy bones. Live yogurt has additional therapeutic benefits as it helps restore gut flora and protects against some harmful bacteria.
Tomatoes are a rich source of the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. They are also high in lycopene, an antioxidant phytochemical believed to be important in preventing heart disease and cancer. Tomatoes are a good source of the flavonoid quercetin. Tomatoes are one of the most versatile ingredients because they can be incorporated into the diet in many different ways.
- Lettuce and leaf lettuces
These are good sources of antioxidant carotenoids, especially lycopene, lutein, and β-carotene. They are also good sources of folic acid, iron, and antioxidant vitamins C and E.
- Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of many minerals and unsaturated fats. They are one of the richest plant sources of zinc, an essential mineral for maintaining prostate health and playing an important role in supporting the immune system.
A good source of antioxidants, especially carotenoids and vitamin C. Mango is high in fiber, especially soluble fiber, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels. It’s one of the few fruit sources that’s high in vitamin E — a well-known antioxidant with many health benefits.
- Tea (Green, Oolong & Black)
Tea contains a group of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, including catechins, which may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Tea contains less caffeine than coffee, but still acts as a mild stimulant. It has been shown to have useful health benefits provided it is not consumed in large amounts. Tea also contains other micronutrients, including vitamin B2, vitamin B3, folic acid, zinc, manganese and potassium.
Thanks to Asma B Omer