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Superswaps To Incorporate Superfoods Into Your Diet

If you’re into health and wellness, or even if you’re not, you’ve probably heard the term ‘superfoods’ tossed around. Although there’s no set criteria determining which foods should be classed as ‘super,’ essentially the term refers to nutrient-dense foods, rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Some experts discourage the use of the term, worrying that the nutritional benefits may be inflated, leading people to believe that the incorporation of these foods will negate the effects of a largely unhealthy diet. So, it's worth taking ‘superfoods’ with a pinch of salt, although maybe not quite literally. Here are a few simple ways to incorporate superfoods into your diet. 

1. Start the Day With Matcha Green Tea 

If, like many of us, you need your caffeine fix, try switching one of those daily coffees for a matcha green tea. Matcha green tea is rich in L-theanine, an amino acid which has been shown to promote mental clarity and relaxation. It’s thought that the combination of caffeine and L-theanine may have synergistic effects on brain health, improving mood attention and focus.

Research indicates that green tea consumption may also be beneficial for blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. One systematic review published in the Nutrition and Metabolism Journal found green tea supplementation to significantly reduce fasting glucose. To maximise energy levels, neuroscientist, Dr. Andrew Huberman, recommends delaying caffeine consumption by at least sixty minutes after waking.

This is due to the effect caffeine has on cortisol, a hormone that helps to regulate wakefulness, typically peaking within the first hour of waking. Consuming caffeine when cortisol is already high may lead to a reduction in the body's natural cortisol response over time, potentially impacting energy levels and sleep.

2. Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Vinaigrette 

Apple Cider Vinegar is known for increasing stomach acid production, helping to reduce indigestion and bloating. Research suggests that consuming Apple Cider Vinegar with a high carbohydrate meal may improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar spikes after eating.

However, it's worth noting that ACV is highly acidic and consuming undiluted amounts could be harmful to the digestive system. Try diluting ACV with water to consume before a meal or combining with olive oil, another superfood, as a dressing. 

3. Opt for Whole grains 

Where possible, replace refined grains with whole grains, like oats, brown rice and quinoa. Whole grains are rich in essential nutrients, including dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Unlike refined grains, whole grains retain all three parts of the grain, the bran, germ and endosperm, which are valuable nutrients. They’re also known for their fibre content, aiding digestion. 

4. Swap Sour Cream for Greek Yoghurt 

Although incredibly tasty, sour cream is high in saturated fat and calorie dense, luckily Greek yoghurt offers a simple superfood substitute. Rich in protein, it contains almost twice the amount of regular yoghurt and half the amount of sodium. Greek yoghurt is often made with live bacterial cultures and additional probiotics, contributing to gut health and digestion. 

5. Add Berries to Your Breakfast 

Berries are loaded with antioxidants, which keep free radicals under control. These are unstable molecules which can damage the cells if in excess, causing oxidative stress. The high antioxidant content can be attributed to compounds like anthocyanins, which research published in the National Library of Medicine has found to significantly improve vascular health.

The antioxidant and bioactive compounds found in berries have also been linked to improved memory and overall brain function. Easily incorporate berries into your diet by throwing a handful to your cereal, yoghurt or smoothie. 

6. Garnish with Seeds 

Seeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre, essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system, supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Flaxseeds, chia and hemp seeds are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, associated with reduced risk of heart disease as they help to lower blood pressure, inflammation and improve cholesterol levels. 

There are a myriad of ways you can incorporate seeds into your diet:

  • Sprinkle ground flaxseeds or chia seeds onto your morning cereal or yoghurt 
  • Add sunflower or pumpkin seeds to a homemade salad 
  • Make a seed butter by blending roasted seeds 
  • Use sesame seeds as a crunchy coating for chicken 

7. Switch to Virgin Olive Oil

Despite being calorie dense, virgin olive oil is thought to aid in weight management, as unsaturated fats have been shown to increase satiety and promote feelings of fullness. What's more, these fats are less likely to be stored as body fat compared to saturated fats found in other oils. Virgin olive oil is also high in antioxidants, including phenolic compounds, which have anti-inflammatory effects. 

8. Get Going with Garlic 

A study into the biological properties and applications of garlic found it to possess biological activities with therapeutic potential against infectious, immunological and tumour processes. It has been shown to stimulate the activity of immune cells, enhance antibody production and exhibit antimicrobial activity against certain pathogens. You can incorporate garlic into your dishes by adding crushed garlic into stir-fries and marinades, roast bulbs to create as a spreadable for bread or combine with herbs to create homemade rubs for meat and fish. 

9. Make Way for Mushrooms 

In our blog on the top wellness trends for this year we unpack the ‘Shroom Boom.’ A review into the anti-inflammatory effect of mushrooms found the main effect of mushrooms to be their antioxidant activity. Certain mushrooms, like shiitake, maitake and reishi, contain bioactive compounds that stimulate immune cells, enhance immune responses and exhibit antimicrobial effects. They’re also great for gut health, containing dietary fibre and prebiotics, contributing to healthy gut microbiota and improved digestion. 

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