We’ve reached part five in our superfoods series! Just as before, I’m going to detail some of the best foods to include in your diet, owing to their reputed health-giving properties.
Whilst there are many, many (many) foods that could potentially be awarded with a ‘super status’, I’ve included those that are particularly beneficial, according to studies. Also, it’s likely that these will be readily available – rather than requiring you to take a trip to the outer most part of the Amazon rainforest – in order to find them.
This time, we’re looking at J,K, L.
Slightly misleading as this one is pronounced with a silent ‘h’, jalapeños are part of the chilli pepper family. They’re usually eaten whole, seeds ‘n’ all, when their flesh is still green (though they’re sometimes ripened until they’re red), the latter of which has a mild, fresh flavour. It’s the seeds that deliver that hotter-than-the-sun sensation in your mouth, owing to the capsaicin they contain. This compound is thought to support the metabolism, and stimulate thermogenesis – the body’s ability to generate heat production via calorie burning.
Capsaicin is thought to increase fat oxidation, and is often dubbed a potent ‘fat-burning’ ingredient. This is why it’s often found in weight loss support products. As an added bonus, jalapeños are also rich in folate and vitamin C.
Depending on the extent of your bravery (!), you can enjoy (verb questionable) jalapeños in dishes like curries, chilli con carne, and as a topping on home-made pizzas.
Kale is a cruciferous veggie that’s related to sprouts, cabbages, collards and broccoli; it has a novel, crisp texture and non-offensive taste. Thought to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence, kale is rich in folate, magnesium, calcium and iron; it also delivers useful levels of vitamin C, along with beta-carotene (the plant form of vitamin A), and fibre. Also present are isothiocyanates – these are molecules thought to help protect against certain cancers (anti-carcinogenic).
There are many varieties of kale, but the most common is the ‘curly’ sort; because of its fibrous leaves, it tends to withstand its shape with heat. Cooking kale can also help to bring about an earthy, ever-so-slightly sweet flavour. It’s actually a fairly versatile veggie; try adding it to stir-fries... or even making ‘crisps’ by baking strips of kale in the oven with a touch of oil and seasonings. In its raw state, kale is good in green smoothies, too (just be sure to blend well).
‘When life gives you lemons... (squeeze them over your food)’. Citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes contain high levels of vitamin C, which is essential for the formation of collagen, found in the connective tissues of the body (skin, muscles, bones, tendons). This is why 19th century English sailors were referred to as ‘limeys’ – it was discovered that eating citrus fruit prevented them from contracting the disease! Vitamin C is therefore, especially important for very active individuals, to assist the recovery process. It also helps to protect cells from oxidative damage, as well as aid the absorption of non-haem iron (from plant sources), so it’s useful to include a squeeze of lemon/lime juice with these foods.
The acidic content of lemons and limes adds a sharp, refreshing ‘tang’ to recipes, and can help to tenderise meat, fish and so on. Vitamin C also helps to ward off colds and flu – which is especially important during the autumn and winter months!
If you missed the first four instalments, you can find links to these here:
I hope you enjoyed the latest instalment; part six will be available soon!