You’ve heard about superfoods–those wondrous fruits, veggies, and ancient grains that wellness insiders claim can work miracles when it comes to your health. Annoyingly though, there’s a lot of vague and even contradictory information out there about what a superfood actually is, and what the benefits are of eating different types.
Forgive us for struggling to keep up, but one minute quinoa’s the only grain you should be eating, and the next freekeh is being hailed as a life-changing rice alternative. It’s exhausting!
Julie Montagu has built her career around the belief that superfoods live up to the hype. She’s a certified health counselor, yoga instructor, and has received a certification in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University. She blogs at The Flexi Foodie, and her new cookbook, Superfoods: The Flexible Approach to Eating More Superfood is a best-seller in the UK and will hit U.S. bookshelves on August 4.
Montagu explained that there’s no official regulation for the term superfood, but that it includes foods that are “particularly high in vitamins, minerals and other useful compounds for them to be classified as such.” Foods that fall into the “super” category are extra beneficial to your health and for fighting disease.
She’s adamant that eating certain superfoods can help address a host of common health problems, and while obviously some issues need an actual doctor’s intervention, there are a handful of foods you can eat that fight (and prevent!) everyday issues naturally.
So if you’re feeling stressed and lethargic, you’re struggling to sleep, or have another problem you don’t want to resort to popping a pill for just yet, keep reading.
Dull skin or eyesight issues? Eat goji berries.
Aside from tasting like nature’s answer to candy, goji berries could also help with dull skin and poor eyesight. Apparently the fruit is loaded with beta-carotene, which Montagu says “helps to promote super healthy, glowing skin.”
And, while it might not be a problem for you right this minute, macular degeneration affects millions of people, and could cause eyesight issues for you down the track. Montagu explains: “Eating foods like goji berries that are rich in zeaxanthin and lutein is a great way to combat macular degeneration.”
High blood pressure or poor circulation? Eat raw cacao.
Poor circulation could be responsible for a number of things–from painful muscle cramps to difficulty achieving an orgasm, but the solution could be as simple as upping your intake of chocolate.
“If poor circulation and high blood pressure is an issue, then increase your intake of raw cacao. Several components found in raw cacao, such as theobromine and flavonoids, improve the strength of the blood vessels aiding which in turn promotes circulation and lowers blood pressure,” Montagu explained.
But, before you start binge-eating Hershey’s, know there’s a key difference between raw cacao and the chocolate in candy bars. Unlike raw cacao, most commercial chocolate is roasted at high temperatures, which can destroy some of the nutrients. So bottom line here: Move away from the confectionary aisle.
Tired all the time? Eat acai berries.
Loading up on coffee isn’t the only solution to feeling tired all the time, and Montagu suggests that acai berries could really help you switch off Netflix and battle that I-can’t-get-off-the-couch feeling.
“The acai berry is commonly found in the Amazon rainforest and is great for the function of the immune system and also for boosting energy,” she said, adding that the berries have “powerful detoxifying qualities and are high in dietary fiber which aids the digestive process.” So if you suffer from digestion issues, acai can help with that too.
Worried about aging? Eat kale.
Montagu swears that kale is more than just a passing wellness fad and has a ton of benefits, including the not-so-small fact that it can help fight aging. She explains: “Kale contains high levels of antioxidants which help to combat oxidative damage that is caused by free radicals in the body.” Blueberries are also packed with antioxidants, to eat up.
Can’t sleep? Eat walnuts.
Night owls, before you resort to popping sleeping pills, try downing some walnuts. “Walnuts are a fantastic source of melatonin which is the hormone that regulates our sleeping patter,” Julie explained.
“They also contain high levels of manganese and Vitamin E. If you suffer from disturbed sleep or find it hard to drift off in the night then try snacking on a small handful an hour or so before you go to bed.”
If you can’t get enough of the superfood facts, head over to Julie Montagu’s blog, The Flexi Foodie, for food plans, recipes, and all things healthy living.