Thursday, 28 May 2015

7 Inexpensive Superfoods That Everyone Should Be Eating

When we think of the word “Superfoods” we tend to associate it with expensive and overly hyped packaged supplements.

However there are many natural foods that are not only inexpensive, but absolutely packed with health supportive nutrients and properties.

All of these foods are also well studied scientifically for their superfood nutrient content, various health benefits and therapeutic applications.

Most of us don’t have an unlimited budget when it comes to purchasing health foods, so this longevity shopping list should help you get the most bang for your buck nutritionally.

Here is my list of my favorite seven inexpensive superfoods that we should all be eating.

1. Turmeric/Curcumin

Turmeric is a popular Indian culinary spice, which has a growing body of scientific research on its various health benefits.

The list of potential benefits that research is attributing to this wonderful golden-yellow spice is endless.

Some of the therapeutic properties include potent anti-inflammatory effect, supporting and improving cardiovascular health, anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties, reduces oxidative stress, aids digestive health, supports the liver’s detoxification process, protects and supports lung health, acts as an anti-depressant and may even have anti-cancer/tumor effect.

Curcumin is a diarylheptanoid and is the main active curcuminoid of turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family.

One potential issue is that Curcumin is very poorly absorbed by the body, however there are a few proven methods to increase the bioavailability of this very beneficial compound.

One method is to pair Curcumin with black pepper, which contains a compound called piperine that studies have shown can increase the uptake of Curcumin significantly.

Another option is to pair Curcumin with fat-loving molecules such as phospholipids, which research again shows can greatly increase the bioavailability of Curcumin anywhere from 25-45x.

What makes Turmeric and Curcumin such a top longevity food, is how effectively it supports the inflammatory-immune and oxidative stress pathways.  All three components are major underlying factors in the development of many common health problems and degenerative diseases.

If wishing to use Curcumin for its therapeutic applications, then a quality Curcumin supplement may be necessary in order to achieve adequate blood levels.  Curcumin X4000 is one of the best curcumin supplements on the market and contains the patented Meriva.

2. Fermented Foods & Prebiotic Fibers

Fermented foods are an excellent source of beneficial lactic acid bacteria or probiotics as they are commonly known, which help to repopulate the gut flora.

Fermented foods have a long traditional history of use, not only as a food preservation method but for supporting and promoting digestive health.

The gut flora is thought to account for around 80% of the immune system, so it makes sense to support the balance of the flora with foods rich in beneficial probiotic bacteria.

A diet rich in prebiotic fibers is also very important for maintaining a healthy gut flora balance.

Prebiotics are indigestible fibers, which increase the growth and stimulate the activity of the beneficial gut bacteria.

Some examples of fermented foods include Kefir, Raw Sauerkraut, Miso, Kimchi and Cultured Vegetables.

Fermented foods are inexpensive, easy to make at home and contain much more viable live probiotics than the majority of the expensive store bought probiotic supplements.

3. Sardines

When it comes to supporting cardiovascular health, there are few foods which contain more heart protective nutrients than the humble sardine.

Sardines are absolutely packed with the proven anti-inflammatory and heart supportive Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.  There is a mountain of evidence building on the importance of omega-3 rich foods such as oily fish and their ability to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Keeping inflammation in check is a vital component to any longevity diet and chronic inflammation has been found to play a role in many degenerative diseases.

However omega-3 fatty acids aren’t the only heart supportive nutrient that sardines contains.

Sardines are extremely rich in Vitamin B12, which is an essential nutrient in the regulation of a substance called homo-cysteine.  Elevated homo-cysteine levels are a proven factor in the development of heart disease.  Studies show vegetarians and in particular vegans are at risk of developing elevated homo-cysteine levels, which occurs due to the low intake of Vitamin B12.

Sardines contain the vitamin like substance Co-Enzyme Q10, which plays a vital role in the production of ATP(energy) and is another nutrient which is very important for optimal heart health.

Sardines are also a rare food source of Vitamin D3, which helps to boost dietary intake of this very important nutrient.  Vitamin D is involved in immune system, bone health, mood and cardiovascular health.

Sardines are safe to consume 2-4 times weekly and don’t tend to accumulate the toxins that other fish such as factory farmed salmon and tuna tend to.  There are many reasons for this, one is that sardines are smaller in size, another is that their diet consists mainly of phytoplankton and they don’t tend to consume larger fish(which can store toxic metals such as mercury), which means they are low accumulators of toxins such as heavy metals, compared to larger fish.

A tin of Sardines costs around £1-1.30 in most supermarkets, you couldn’t ask for a cheaper or more reliable source of the above nutrients.

Consuming sardines 2-4 times weekly should be more than enough to meet the required amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and eliminate any need for fish oil supplements.

4. Bitter Herbs

 Bitter tasting foods and herbs are almost a non existant flavor in the modern diet.
However bitter tasting foods and herbs are extremely important, especially for those with sluggish digestive and liver health.

Bitter herbs are a very popular tonic in Europe, where they are consumed after meals to prevent indigestion and to aid the digestive process.

Traditionally bitter herbs are recommending for supporting digestion, cleansing the liver, balancing hormones, lowering cholesterol and stimulating appetite.

Bitters work by stimulating the bitter receptors that are located towards the back of the tongue.  When the bitter flavor comes in contact with these receptors it stimulates the vagus nerve, which in turn kick starts the digestive process releasing stomach acid, pancreatic digestive enzymes and bile, all of which aids digestion.

Bitters improve the flow of bile, which makes them an excellent choice for supporting liver and gallbladder health.  Bitter herbs are a very powerful tool for cleansing the liver, increasing water intake slightly in the beginning can help reduce any mild cleansing or detoxification reactions.

Sluggish liver function can be caused from dietary and lifestyle over-indulgence, some factors which can stress the liver include a diet high in refined sugars, over-consumption of alcohol, too much of the wrong types of fats,  processed foods that contain lots of artificial chemicals,  cigarettes and drugs.

5. Sea Vegetables

 Seaweeds are a popular food in Asian cuisine and are rightly referred to as a “superfood”.  Some examples of sea vegetables include kelp, dulse, nori, bladderwrack and wakame.
Sea vegetables are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids, phyto-nutrients and even contain some omega-3 fatty acids.

Seaweeds are the best dietary source of bio-available Iodine, which is an important mineral involved in the function of the thyroid gland.

Sea vegetables prized asset is their rich content of minerals and trace elements, all of which are vital for optimal health and studies are still finding that Iodine is a common nutrient deficiency.

Sea vegetables are an amazing source of trace and ultra-trace elements, many of which are deficient and difficult to obtain from land plant food sources alone.

All seafood is prone to contamination with toxins such as heavy metals, as briefly discussed above with sardines and seaweeds are no different, so this makes choosing sea vegetables very important.

Kelp is the best choice of seaweed in my opinion because it contains a type of fiber called alginate, which binds to any small amount of toxic metals or radioactive elements present and aids detoxification of toxins in the body.

6. Nettle Leaf

Stinging Nettle is one of my favorite herbs for health, due to its broad general tonic properties and nutritive content.

Not to mention that nettle leaf is dirt cheap to pick up dried or you may even be able to find an abudance growing wild depending on where you live.

The leaf makes an excellent tea once dried and i try to start each day with a cleansing infusion of nettle leaf. 

Nettle leaf is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, sterols and antioxidants.

Nettle leaf helps to support the liver, kidneys, adrenal and thyroid glands, intestines, bones, ligaments, connective tissue and tendon health.

Nettle leaf has natural anti-inflammatory, diuretic and anti-histamine properties.  Nettle leaf can also remove uric acid and dissolve kidney stones.

Purchase high quality nettle leaf tea from Natu Health Store in the UK.

7. Sprouts & Grasses

Sprouted seeds, grains, legumes and grasses such as wheatgrass are another inexpensive and easy way to significantly boost micro-nutrient(vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phyto-chemical) intake at home.

Sprouts are a natural, living and enzyme-rich food that are also low in calories.  Research shows that the sprouting process can greatly increase the micro-nutrient content, unlocking greater bioavailability and uptake of these essential nutrients.

Studies also show that sprouting grains and legumes can significantly increase the phyto-chemical content of these foods such as rutin, flavonoids and other beneficial polyphenols.  Whilst also having a modest decrease in anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors, which can inhibit the uptake and absorption of many nutrients.

You don’t get fresher or cheaper food than sprouting or growing your own grasses for juicing in the comfort of your own home.  All you need are viable seeds to begin sprouting.

Always consult a professional before making any significant lifestyle or dietary changes.

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