Superfoods Part 8: Get Saucy with Tomatoes!

Part eight in our Superfoods series is all ready for you! As before, the foods detailed below are renowned for their nutritional properties, which is why they’re granted super status. It should be really simple to get your hands on them, and won’t require a trip the outer most corners of Earth. :)

So, here goes; this week we have the letters S, T and U.

Salmon/Spirulina

Salmon is an oily fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids; more importantly, these are specific types of omega-3s known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Extensive studies indicate the numerous health benefits that these can offer. For example, they contribute to healthy brain and nerve function and influence cognitive ability, enhance memory and improve mood. Additionally, they’re thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, and may help to protect against heart disease. We need DHA and EPA to maintain healthy, flexible cell membranes, too.

Eating two portions of salmon per week is said to provide an optimum dose of DHA and EPA (wild varieties are best, as opposed to farmed/organic salmon). Of course, that’s all well and good if you like fish, but what about if you don’t, say you’re a vegetarian or vegan? Often, it’s suggested that foods like walnuts and flaxseeds make a good substitute; these are packed with vitamins and minerals, fibre and good fats, making them nutritious by their own right. They contain a sub-group of omega-3s known as alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which the body converts to fish-derived DHA and EPA. However, there is a catch (excuse the pun): the conversion rate is pretty low (a suggested 5-10%), making them a questionable source of the latter.

Spirulina

So, what’s the solution? Well, you could opt for spirulina (I bet you were wondering when that was coming in!), a type of marine algae that’s said to contain useful levels of DHA and EPA. After all, this is a staple part of the fish’s diet, and the main reason wild salmon tends to be higher in omega-3s. This bottle-green powder can be added in small amounts to smoothies, soups, stews and so on. Alternatively (and if you’re not vegan/vegetarian), you could opt for a fish oil supplement; 1000mg daily is about right.

Tomatoes

As you might be aware, tomatoes are truly a fruit, but they’re usually commonplace in savoury dishes. One of the greatest things about tomatoes is their lycopene content – to clarify, this is the pigment that lends to their rich, red hue. Lycopene is a carotenoid – i.e. a phytochemical – that’s been shown to positively impact health. It’s said to fight free radical damage; research suggests that it may help to protect against certain cancers, such as that of the prostrate, breast, pancreas and oesophagus.

Interestingly, the cooking process encourages the release of lycopene, so roasted tomatoes, as well as tomato-based soups, sauces and so on will contain higher levels than their fresh counterparts. If you’re not a fan of tomatoes, try a lycopene supplement (often found as part of a multi-nutrient, male support product, or antioxidant blend).

Ugli fruit

I’m being a bit naughty, here – I confess, I cheated slightly. The ‘Ugli’ fruit is technically a brand name for the Jamaican tangelo – a sort of hybrid of a grapefruit, orange and tangerine. Still, it can work!

Aptly named, you might have guessed that the Ugli fruit is not especially attractive. To me, it sort of looks like a grapefruit and an orange had a baby, and abandoned said offspring, leaving it to shrivel outside (very festive indeed). :)

Anyway, despite their off-putting appearance, the fleshy part inside is sweet, juicy and tangy, with an obvious citrusy ‘kick’. As a loose description, they’re sort of sweeter than a grapefruit, but sharper than an orange. The Ugli fruit is rich in vitamin C – more so than its parents – and is believed to provide up to 70% of your daily recommended intake! Even better, it’s easy to peel and segment (not that this is an issue if you have muscles). You should be able to find Ugli fruit in your local supermarket or greengrocers. They’re great in salads... paired with salmon and roasted tomatoes: a superfoods hat-trick!

I hope you enjoyed the latest addition, and that your A-Z shopping list is building nicely! Part nine will be available in good time.

Zoe

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About the Author

Zoë is a qualified nutritionist; she holds a BSc in Human Nutrition (Hons), and is currently working towards her certification in sports nutrition, awarded by the ISSN. What you eat can greatly impact your health, well-being and exercise performance. Therefore, Zoë is here to support you in reaching your goals by helping you to make informed dietary and supplement choices.
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