Welcome to part four of our Superfoods series! If you missed the first three instalments, you can find links to these here.
So, just to recap, superfoods are said to deliver an impressive concoction of nutrients, believed to support health and well-being. They’re nutrient-dense, as opposed to calorie-dense, which means they give real pizzazz in terms of nutritional value.
This week, our entries start with the letters G, H & I. Just as before, there’s a good bit of research behind these Superfoods and their reported benefits, so they’re apt to be a great addition to your diet.
In Japan, green tea is drunk as habitually as... we drink black tea with milk and sugar over here. It’s a ‘virginal’ beverage that’s made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Residues of said leaves end up in our cuppa, but not before they’ve undergone various fermentation and heating processes.
Green tea contains high concentrations of polyphenols – flavanoids and catechins as they’re usually known in the lab – which are said to possess health-supportive properties. Protection of the immune system, promotion of cardiovascular health, and a lower precedence of inflammation have all been associated with drinking green tea. It’s even been linked to the prevention of certain types of cancers, and is also believed to be a potent weight loss aid; green tea is rich in a specific catechin known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (or EGCG), which is said to help increase fat-burning and calorie expenditure.
The flipside is that you’d probably need to down a fair bit of green tea in order to reap any of the above benefits. However, there is a solution to this – green tea capsules! An ingenious creation, capsules deliver a potent dose of green tea – with no need to boil a kettle.
You can read more about the wonders of green tea, here.
Hemp (or more precisely, shelled hemp seeds) contains useful levels of essential fatty acids, to include Omega-3s, as well as the plant form of gamma linoleic acid (GLA), which is found in breast milk. They also provide a good source of protein – ideal for veggies and vegans.
Other nutrients contained within small but mighty hemp seeds are zinc, iron and magnesium, plus fibre. Hemp also happens to be one of the most sustainable (and oldest) plants in the world; every part of it can either be eaten, or used to make other, highly durable materials (hemp ‘plastic’, for example!). Because it doesn’t require the use of pesticides, and naturally absorbs a lot of CO2, it’s kind to the environment, and is organically grown.
You can get hemp in many forms: as protein powder, a seed mix that you can sprinkle over breakfast cereal, soups and salads, or hemp milk (to name but a few).
Okay, you can stop hugging that tree, now!
Sometimes known as husk cherries or cape gooseberries, incaberries are a golden yellow colour with a glossy finish, encased in decorative leaves that resemble paper. They originate from the tropical regions of South America, and have a distinctly aromatic, sweet taste, with a slight, tangy ‘bite’.
Considering they’re a fruit, they’re pretty high in protein, as well as fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A, niacin (vitamin B3), iron and phosphorus. If you can get your hands on these (fruit stalls and supermarkets usually sell them), they can offer a boost of colour, flavour and nutrients; because of their taste profile, you won’t need more than a handful to reap their rewards, which will help to keep the sugar content down.
Part five will be available soon!