You are what you eat, right? James and I are big believers of that statement, and it's one of Food Matters' foundational principles. When we eat whole, organic foods, we experience sustainably high energy levels, balanced emotions and an overall sense of fulfillment towards life. However, it's not always as easy as it sounds and our busy schedules can sometimes prevent us from being able to show our bodies the love they deserve. So how do we make sure our diet is full of nutrient-dense goodness all the time? Here's a list of 10 amazing everyday foods for health and vitality - make sure you've got your shopping list ready!
The old Welsh proverb, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" might really have some truth to it - but what makes this common fruit so beneficial?
Apples are one of the most widely consumed fruits in the whole world and are continuously being touted as a "miracle food" as they are particularly rich in essential antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber.
The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may even help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.
2. Broccoli Sprouts
We all know the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables, and broccoli is a household favorite. However, some research suggests that broccoli sprouts are even more potent than their grown-up counterparts!
Small amounts of fresh broccoli sprouts have been shown to contain as much cancer protection as substantially larger amounts of the mature vegetable, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. One compound called "sulforaphane", which is found in most cruciferous vegetables, may even improve the liver's capacity to remove carcinogens. The study found that 3-day-old broccoli sprouts contain 10-100 times higher levels of sulforaphane than mature vegetables!
Mushrooms are an excellent source of bioavailable iron, which promotes the formation of red blood cells. The body can absorb over 90% of the nutritive iron value in these fabulous little fungi.
They're also a perfect addition to any diet, especially for diabetics. Mushrooms don't contain any fats or cholesterol but do have a high fiber content and a wealth of vitamins and minerals. Moreover, they possess naturally occurring insulin and enzymes which assist with the breaking down of sugar and starch in our food.
Did you know that one standard lemon contains 100% of your daily vitamin C requirement? This is particularly necessary for supporting a healthy immune system within the human body, as we do not retain or produce vitamin C naturally like some other mammals. Lemons are also known to aid digestion, improve skin tone, reduce appetite, balance pH levels, support detoxification and freshen breath... talk about a super food!
5. Fermented Vegetables
Fermented vegetables are vegetables that have been through a process called lacto-fermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food and subsequently create lactic acid. This style of food preparation has played an important role in traditional diets for centuries. The process not only preserves the food, but it also produces beneficial enzymes, vitamins, and various probiotics.
Natural fermentation of foods has also been linked to improved digestion.
6. Swiss Chard
Admittedly not the tastiest item on this list, but incredibly good for your health nonetheless. Swiss chard is also known as rainbow chard, silverbeet or spinach beet and is scientifically a member of the beetroot family; however, chard is cultivated for its leaves, not its roots. This particular leafy green has a remarkable list of attributes including the ability to regulate blood sugar levels, help prevent some types of cancer, enhance digestion, support the immune system, decrease fever, lower blood pressure, inhibit heart disease, increase bone strength, detoxify the body, and strengthen brain function.
Pomegranates were known in some ancient cultures as "the fruit of the gods"; rumored to have the ability to lengthen lifespan and retain youthfulness. In the modern world, pomegranates have been found to have natural aphrodisiac properties, reduce arthritis and other joint pains, lower blood pressure and even help to inhibit the development of breast cancer.
Blueberries are one of Nature's most delectable treats! Not only do they taste great, but they are also full of a very important substance called antioxidants.
Antioxidants are super important as they protect our bodies from the damage caused by free radicals - unstable molecules that have a tendency to corrupt cellular structures and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer. Blueberries are actually believed to contain the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables
Cumin is an herb that is widely associated with Mexican and Spanish foods, but it is also commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cultures. Aside from being a great addition to most curries, cumin has an impressive list of health benefits such as assisting weight loss, aiding digestion, fighting insomnia, improving iron levels, reducing cholesterol and enhancing memory.
How could we publish a list of 10 foods for health and vitality without including the amazing avocado? Avocados, also traditionally known as "alligator pears", are originally native to south central Mexico but they spread quickly throughout the American continent and across the globe to become one of the world's most popular "superfoods". Avocados are high in potassium, fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids which are crucial for reducing bad cholesterol and lowering instances of heart disease and stroke.
There are plenty of incredible foods that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Remember to try sourcing your fruits and vegetables locally and buy organic, seasonal produce wherever possible!