If your instagram feed is full of “healthies” instead of selfies, chances are you’ve already jumped aboard one the year’s biggest emerging social media trends – health and fitness.
However, for those who haven’t quite caught up yet and still don’t know their freekeh from their quinoa or the difference between goji and acai berries, click through for a masterclass on 2013’s superfoods responsible for lowering cholesterol, elevating energy levels and sending the nation’s libido through the roof.
Undoubtedly the foodie vegetable of the year, kale’s properties are not simply limited to vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In addition, some studies have shown including kale in one’s diet will help to prevent cancer and fight nasty UTIs, and even help to eliminate potential carcinogens from the body through the way it is digested. Enjoy it fresh to reap all the health benefits – when cooked, it unfortunately loses a lot of its natural Vitamin C.
Sweet potato should be included in every diabetic’s diet – it has the proven power to reduce insulin resistance. Not actually belonging to the potato family, eating it regularly can also help lower the risk of kidney cancer. And although “potato” is a dirty word when it comes to calorie-counting, sweet potato’s high fibre content make it a perfect complement to a salad.
Having unfairly earned the tag of “budget student meal”, it’s time baked beans reclaimed their place as a superfood for everyone, not just cash-strapped 20-somethings. They are ninety-nine per cent fat-free, full of fibre, packed with protein and low in sugar, plus one 420 gram can counts as two serves of vegetables. A staple for every Aussie pantry.
While it’s been popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean kitchens for aeons, freekeh is new to many Westerners. Freekeh is durum wheat harvested young, sun-dried and then scorched, giving it a smoky, nutty flavour and rough texture. With more protein than almost any other grain, four times the fibre of brown rice and a low glycaemic index, it’s no wonder we’re (at long last) singing its praises, with it now available readily in supermarkets.
Once demonised for its high fat content, the avocado is back in the good books! Its high levels of mono-saturated oleic acid help increase fat metabolism. The D-manno-heptulose sugar that is found in avocados boosts collagen formation while certain amino acids and carotenoid anti-oxidants reduce age spots, soothe inflammation and heal scars and burns. But at the end of the day, who cares? When something tastes this good, it’s a treat worth serving frequently regardless of the health benefits!
Eggs were once held responsible for high cholesterol levels, due to the yolk containing some fat and cholesterol. It has since been found eating cholesterol actually has little effect on blood cholesterol. Instead, eggs contain good amounts of omega-3 fats, proven to benefit heart health in multiple ways. If you’re really watching your weight, the good news is a single egg white contains 17 calories and four grams of protein.
Drinking green tea is a great way to rev up your metabolism as it’s packed with metabolism-boosting flavonoids called catechins, giving rise to its anti-aging, –allergy and -inflammatory properties. And that relaxed feeling you get after a cup of tea is actually based in science – the amino acid theanine, abundant in green tea, helps stimulate alpha brain waves, which is directly linked to mental relaxation.
Prawns are a great way to add some punch to your bikini body routine. Not only are they the perfect summer barbeque essential, they contain more protein than beef, chicken, lamb or pork and zero carbs and less fat than all land-based animal protein sources. By eating prawns, you’re also making the sustainable choice – prawns feed on plankton and vegetable material and keep the oceans clean. On the other hand, seafood like tuna and salmon need approximately five kilograms of food for every kilogram that makes it to your plate.
Goji berries contain more vitamin C than any other food on Earth and more iron than spinach. These flavourful berries are also rich in unique compounds known as Lycium barbarum polysaccharides which can modulate immunity and reduce inflammation. And they aren’t a gym goer’s go-to snack for nothing – the aforementioned polysaccharides are very effective in helping detoxify the body by aiding in removing metabolic waste products like lactic acid and supporting the liver from potential damage during intense exercise.
One kiwi serving yields over twice the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C and can actually help to reduce coughing and wheezing symptoms amongst children and asthma sufferers alike. Enjoy the flesh alone or leave the skin on for a little extra fibre. Still not convinced of the humble kiwi’s powers? Forget the meat mallet at your next barbeque and instead rub a little kiwi flesh on your steak – the kiwi’s enzymes break down the protein, acting as a natural tenderiser.
Peanut butter has a legendary status amongst fitness freaks – probably because it actually tastes good and has the benefits of healthy fats and protein with high satiety. However, beware of commercial peanut butters as these are generally loaded with extra oil and salt. Watch your portion size as well – recently scientists found a peanut-butter like substance may be the cure to severe malnourishment in children (see Project Peanut Butter for more information). While this is a fantastic discovery, it does serve to emphasise the high-calorie nature of every gym-junkie’s favourite spread.
Of course, if you’ve had quite enough of the health food movement, we hear you. See our recipes by celebrity chefs where taste reigns supreme and there’s hardly a lettuce leaf in sight or be tempted by your favourite tipple.