6 Superfoods and why you should eat them
Superfoods is a term that defines nutritionally dense foods that contain a rich serving of health benefits in a small serving size. Even though “superfoods” is not a food category, some foods, like some plants, nuts, fruits, fish, and dairy, pack enough nutrients to be considered exceptional.
It is worth noting that eating these superfoods alone will not prevent diseases; however, in combination with a healthy lifestyle, these nutrient-rich foods can affect your health positively.
According to the Heart Associations around the world, eating superfoods alone will not make you healthier, but adding superfoods to an already balanced diet will add some extra health benefits.
At Vanda’s Kitchen, we incorporate nutrient-rich foods into our overall portion-controlled meal plan, including these five best superfoods:
As seen in our Organic Leek & Mushroom Quiche (on sale in Selfridges Food Hall)
Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, which protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals that are produced by our body during the process of metabolism. Free radicals, when uncontrolled, damage the growth, development, and survival of our cells. They produce cumulative stress on the body, leading to chronic diseases like cancer, arthritis, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other illnesses. Antioxidants act to prevent new free radicals from forming while neutralising existing radicals to protect our bodies.
Usually, our body relies on foods, including plant-based fruits, nuts, and whole grains, to supply most of the antioxidants we need for protection. Edible mushrooms, including shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, button mushrooms, and portobello mushrooms, contain a high number of antioxidants making this a healthy food.
Antioxidants are known to have an anti-cancer effect and have been part of various clinical trials evaluating their promising roles in protecting us against cancer, including breast cancer. Mushrooms also have anti-inflammatory properties and play a role in reducing inflammation in our bodies. Although each mushroom varies in its nutritional component, most mushrooms contain several vitamins, including vitamin A, minerals including potassium, and a lot of other unique antioxidants not easily available in other foods.
2. Legumes or Pulses (Lentils and Chickpeas)
As seen in our Organic Vandas Vegan Curry
Lentils and chickpeas are part of a class of plant foods known as legumes. Legumes, also known as pulses, include most common foods like peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, cranberry, beans, navy beans, and fava beans.
Legumes are rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fibres. They are also rich in minerals and vitamins, including vitamin A and B, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and zinc. They are very low in fat and saturated fat, and are cholesterol-free. They are a stable protein source for vegetarian, vegan, and lower-glycemic index diets due to their high protein content and high fibre but low-fat content. Lentils make a great addition to precooked meal and ready cooked meal delivery.
Just like mushrooms, lentils play a role in disease prevention. Research shows that legumes affect our cholesterol positively, as well as reduce high blood pressure and inflammation.
Several diets recommended for managing several diseases such as the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) suggests that legumes are a key component to diabetes management. Lentils and chickpeas also have a positive effect on our blood sugar and insulin and are thus very beneficial to diabetic patients.
Similar to mushrooms, lentils have a high concentration of antioxidants, indicating that they possess anti-cancer properties. Due to their ability to promote a feeling of fullness, legumes also play a critical role in weight management, and increased consumption of legumes like beans and lentils have been recently recommended as part of an overall goal to improve dietary intake of legumes.
Legumes are easily one of the healthiest foods in existence and often part of a cooked meal delivery service.
As seen in our Organic Chicken & Egg Caesar Salad
Garlic has been a favourite of humans for thousands of years due its unique flavour and medicinal properties. It is considered a low-calorie but nutrient-rich plant and is closely related to leeks and onions. Garlic has many health benefits, which has been traced back to sulphur compounds, including diallyl disulphide, diallyl trisulphide, and allicin, that are formed when a garlic clove is cut, chewed, or crushed.
Garlic also has antioxidants which protect us from potential damage to our body by free radicals – so is considered a good antioxidant food.
Garlic is highly nutritious and contains many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B5, manganese, selenium, iron, copper, and calcium. Garlic is often used to boost the immune system as well as manage simple illnesses like the common cold and has been shown to reduce the number of colds, the duration of the cold, as well as the severity of the cold in patients.
Garlic has also shown benefits in reducing blood pressure. Several studies with high doses of garlic show garlic as almost as effective as some prescription blood pressure medication. However, garlic should not replace your blood pressure medication, and any changes to your medication should be discussed with your physician. Garlic also plays a role in managing cholesterol levels by reducing our bad LDL cholesterol and our total cholesterol.
Garlic helps in diabetes control and the managing of diabetes-related complications. It improves bone health, detoxifies poisonous metals in the body, improves exercise endurance, prevents Alzheimer’s Disease, and protects against dementia.
Garlic has also shown benefits towards preventing certain types of cancers by suppressing tumour pathways, inhibiting cancer development, and inhibiting the activities of cancer enzymes. At Vanda’s Kitchen, we use garlic for all the benefits it offers as we continue to maintain high standards for our ready meals delivered service in London.
4. Olive Oil
As seen across many of our products. We only use Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Very much like garlic, olive oil has been around for centuries and was primarily used in the Mediterranean before making its way around the world. It is a natural extract from the fruit of the olive tree, and like other “superfoods” has numerous medical benefits.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are not only healthy, but also resistant to high heat, making it one of the best oils for cooking the healthiest foods.
Monounsaturated fatty acids, also known as oleic fat, have other benefits aside from cooking. Clinical studies show that oleic fat has beneficial effects on cancer genes as well and that olive oil contains antioxidants, including vitamin E and K, which neutralise free radicals in the body, protect our cells for damage, and fight cancer cells.
Olive oil, especially extra-virgin olive oil, has anti-inflammatory properties, which protects against heart disease, diabetes and stroke, fights Alzheimer’s, treats rheumatoid arthritis, and has antibacterial properties.
Olive oil also has favorable weight effects on the body. Typically, eating fats like oils leads to weight gain; however, studies conducted on people who eat primarily Mediterranean diets rich in olive oil showed no weight gain or negative weight problems related to the use of olive oil for cooking.
Instead, diets rich in olive oil were associated with favourable weight outcomes, including weight loss. We use minimal olive oil at Vanda’s Kitchen to keep our ready cooked meals for delivery healthy and delicious.
As seen in our Organic Vegan Super Meatlessballs
Quinoa has been eaten for thousands of years in South America and only just became popular in other parts of the world recently. Known as the “mother of all grains,” quinoa is a seed that is prepared as a grain and is so nutritionally-dense it has almost every single important vitamin and mineral.
To show the importance of Quinoa to nutrition, the United Nations declared 2013 “The International Year of Quinoa” in honour of the superfood contribution to “eradicating hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.”
Quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains the nine essential amino acids that the body needs to survive but cannot make by itself. Since most plant foods do not contain all nine amino acids, quinoa is a great source for more and better plant-based protein for vegans and vegetarians.
It is also gluten-free, making it perfect for people with a gluten allergy. If you ever wondered – what are superfoods – quinoa is your perfect superfood.
Quinoa is non-GMO, high in fibre, low in calories, and contains magnesium, manganese, copper, calcium, iron, folate, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acid, antioxidants, and a lot of trace elements.
Quinoa has been shown to improve heart health and triglycerides, reduce blood sugar, and improve the function of insulin in the body. Due to its antioxidant properties, quinoa has antiviral, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant properties.
Quinoa also aids in weight loss due to its high fibre and protein content, both of which promotes a sense of fullness and a reduction in overall calorie intake. It is a great addition to portion control meals and a great reminder to practice healthy eating.
6. Sweet potatoes
As seen in Vandas Vegan Confit Bowl
Our superfoods list would not be complete without sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that are a staple in most homes for good reason – they’re loaded with nutrients, and they’re tasty, easy to cook, and sweet. They are also a great source of antioxidants, which are known to reduce the risk for certain cancers, including breast, gastric, and colon cancer.
Even though sweet potatoes taste sweet, they are considered low glycemic index foods, which means they release sugar slowly into the bloodstream, unlike other carbohydrates like rice.
The slowly released sugar stabilises blood sugar and helps to manage diabetes by helping insulin metabolism. Sweet potatoes also boost your metabolism, as well as your energy, and keep you feeling full for longer.
Sweet potatoes promote eye health by converting beta carotene into vitamin A in our body. Vitamin A is important for vision regulation. Lack of vitamin A causes blindness, and as such sweet potatoes reduce the incidence of vitamin A deficiency vision loss.
Vitamin A also enhances brain health and supports the immune system. Sweet potatoes are versatile, can stay fresh for some time when stored under the right temperature, come in different colours, and due to their high fibre content, they maintain and promote gut health.