15 superfoods to support a healthy lifestyle

by Hannah de Gruchy July 21, 2021

15 superfoods to support a healthy lifestyle - banner

Superfoods are defined as a food or a naturally derived supplement, usually plant-based, that has a higher level of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols than other foods. They are considered to be more beneficial to health as they are so nutrient rich and offer more support than basic nutrition alone. For example, organic blueberries, a superfood, are more nutritionally advantageous than a non-organic apple.

However, the actual term superfood has no legal or medical definition and is instead a marketing term used by food manufacturers to sell foods to the health conscious among us.

That said, the term superfood is now commonly used and recognised by those looking to eat well and supplement their diet to support a healthy lifestyle. So, for that reason, we use the term to describe our high-quality supplements that are plentiful in beneficial nutrients and derived from foods. 

Superfoods include functional mushrooms, for instance, reishi and lion’s mane, medicinal herbs and plants including spirulina and ginkgo biloba, roots such as turmeric and bee products including propolis extract.

Functional mushrooms

Used medicinally for centuries by our ancient ancestors, functional mushrooms are rare mushrooms that grow in dense, secluded forests on trees and fallen, decaying logs. They contain various beneficial nutrients, allowing them their superfood status.

Reishi mushroom

Reishi mushroom

Known in the ancient Indian system of medicine Ayurveda as the mushroom of longevity, reishi mushrooms have adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens can help the body react and adapt to stress.

Reishi mushrooms are particularly rich in bioactive compounds called polysaccharides that help to support a healthy immune system

How to include reishi mushrooms in your diet

Reishi mushrooms have a slightly bitter taste. Widely available in powdered form, the bitterness pairs well with chocolate when mixed with cacao and made into a comforting hot drink.

How to supplement your diet with reishi mushrooms

Mushrooms 4 Life organic reishi mushroom capsules are a simple way of including these beneficial medicinal mushrooms into your diet if you’re unsure of the bitter taste of reishi.

Lion’s mane mushroom

Lion’s mane mushroom

True to their name, lion’s mane mushrooms resemble a lion’s mane, with their majestic, fluffy, hair like appearance. Native to Europe and North America, they grow on dead trees and have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for generations.

Rich in anti-inflammatories, lion’s mane mushrooms are considered a superfood due to their potential ability to support good memory and cognition and help to manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

How to include lion’s mane mushrooms in your diet

Enjoy these mushrooms raw or cooked into your favourite dishes – they have a delicate seafood like taste, but they’re completely plant-based. Or enjoy dried lion’s mane steeped in hot water as a nourishing tea.

How to supplement your diet with lion’s mane mushrooms

Take Living Nutrition’s cognitive supplement that contains lion’s mane mushroom extract along with other organic cognitive support ingredients to feel the benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms.

Chaga mushroom

Chaga mushroom

Chaga mushrooms are high in fibre, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, but most importantly, they’re a rich source of immune system supporting antioxidants. They grow naturally on the bark of the birch trees native to Northern Europe, Russia, Alaska and Siberia and can be easily mistaken for a gnarly lump of burnt wood.

Due to their high level of antioxidants, chaga mushrooms are considered a superfood as they help to promote the creation of proteins called cytokines that regulate the immune system They also stimulate the production of white blood cells that form an essential part of the immune response.

How to include chaga mushrooms in your diet

Chaga mushrooms are best used steeped in hot water as a tea.

How to supplement your diet with chaga mushrooms

Organic chaga mushroom capsules from Mushrooms 4 Life are created using sustainably produced chaga mushrooms grown on Siberian birch trees. They’re a great way of consuming concentrated chaga and reaping the benefits.

Herbs and plants

Mother Nature is abundant with beneficial herbs and plants. Many have been used in folk medicine and ancient medicinal practices for generations, and it’s only now that they’re becoming popular in the West.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha

Used for millennia in the ancient Indian medicinal practice of Ayurveda, ashwagandha is a herb that’s extracted from the orangey-red fruit and roots of the evergreen shrub of the same name. Native to India, this herb has been traditionally used to maintain mental and physical youth.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that helps the body deal with stress, be that physical stress such as during exercise, or emotional stress. Its Latin name is Withania somnifera and under scientific study, has shown the ability to help reduce stress and improve cognitive function. It also contains compounds called withanolides, which can help to manage inflammation

How to include ashwagandha in your diet

Ashwagandha is most commonly found in supplement form and not generally available to buy in the UK.

How to supplement your diet with ashwagandha

To benefit from ashwagandha, take organic fermented ashwagandha capsules from Living Nutrition.

Spirulina

Spirulina

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is so nutritious, one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, it’s been touted as a “food of the future” by the UN, that can help to feed the malnourished and impoverished around the world.

Rich in vitamins and minerals including the B vitamins and iron, spirulina is also impressively rich in complete protein, meaning that it’s one of the few plant-based foods that contains all of the essential amino acids and is therefore ideal for vegans as a protein source.

How to include spirulina in your diet

Spirulina is often found in powdered form in health food stores. It has a strong flavour, almost like the sea, and can be added to smoothies, Buddha bowls and juices. Because it has such a unique taste, begin by adding half a teaspoon and build up to one or more each day.

How to supplement your diet with spirulina

With all the will in the world, some simply dislike the taste of spirulina. If so, then try taking spirulina in a flavourless daily capsule.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba

Native to China, the most beneficial part of the ancient ginkgo biloba tree are the leaves, that have a very distinctive petal-like shape. The tree itself is the oldest tree species in the world, which gives some credence to the superfood status of its leaves. 

Ginkgo biloba has been used medicinally in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries to help support brain, heart and lung health. It’s thought that the benefits come from the high concentration of antioxidant flavonoids and terpenoids.

There is also some evidence that ginkgo biloba extract may help to protect against age related degenerative disorders such as cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

How to include ginkgo biloba in your diet

Like ashwagandha and spirulina, ginkgo biloba is usually found as a supplement, rather than a food.

How to supplement your diet with ginkgo biloba

To reap the benefits of this medicinal herb, take G&G Vitamins ginkgo biloba capsules each day.

Roots

Found underground either as a whole or as the root system of a plant, roots are the forgotten wonders of nature, yet truly deserve their superfood moniker.

Turmeric

Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice used in Asian and Caribbean cooking that adds warmth and flavour. The turmeric we eat has been extracted from the root of the turmeric plant and turned into a powder.

This golden spice is the subject of many exciting scientific studies due to one of its many active ingredients – curcumin. Curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which means that it helps to protect the body against free radical damage and oxidative stress that can lead to chronic inflammation and eventually, possibly chronic inflammatory diseases such as obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

How to include turmeric in your diet

Turmeric can be used in cooking either in a powdered form, or by peeling and grating whole turmeric root. Add it to curries and dishes that can benefit from a little spice. Curcumin makes up 2-8% of turmeric, a good quality supplement will include higher amounts of this active ingredient. 

How to supplement your diet with turmeric

Taking the organic fermented turmeric supplement from Living Nutrition will help to ensure that you get a healthy daily dose of bio-available turmeric in order to reap the rewards.

Siberian ginseng

Siberian ginseng

Also known as eleuthero, Siberian ginseng is different from ginseng, or panax ginseng. Siberian ginseng originates from Asia and is extracted from the roots of the Siberian ginseng plant, a woody, thorny bush.

Siberian Ginseng extract contains compounds called eleutherosides, which have been shown to alleviate physical and mental fatigue, especially so in athletes. There is also some evidence that these compounds also have a protective effect on the brain.

How to include Siberian ginseng in your diet

It’s uncommon in the West to find Siberian Ginseng as a food, instead, it’s most commonly found and consumed as a supplement. It’s sometimes available as a tea.

How to supplement your diet with Siberian ginseng

G&G Vitamins Siberian ginseng capsules are designed to be taken daily to help support overall health and wellbeing.

Jicama

Jicama

Jicama, also known as Mexican turnip, is a root vegetable that looks similar to a potato, with brown skin and white flesh. Native to Mexico, it’s also popular across Asia and is a nutritional powerhouse.

Low in fat but rich in healthy carbs, fibre, vitamin C and essential minerals such as iron and folate, it’s also an antioxidant rich food. Eating jicama can help to protect against illness and disease, since antioxidants help to support the work of the immune system.

How to include jicama in your diet

Jicama can be eaten in the same way as many root vegetables, by peeling, slicing and boiling. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavour and when cooked, has a soft flesh. 

How to supplement your diet with jicama

Currently there are no jicama supplements available, the only way to benefit from these is through cooking with this vegetable at home.

Superfruits

Fruits are beneficial to health, but some are more nutrient dense than others and have earned their right to be labelled a superfood.

Blueberries

Blueberries

One of the most nutritionally densely packed fruits, blueberries were one of the first foods to be named a superfood. As well as vitamins C and K, they contain polyphenol antioxidants called flavonoids, in particular, one called anthocyanin.

Anthocyanin is responsible the deep purple colour of blueberries and when eaten, helps to raise the level of immune supporting antioxidants in the body.

How to include blueberries in your diet

Blueberries are a deliciously versatile berry and can be eaten raw, baked into muffins, blended into a superfood smoothie or sprinkled over porridge. 

How to supplement your diet with blueberries

Blueberries can be freeze dried, concentrated and turned into a powder that can then be added directly to smoothies, or encapsulated to take as a daily supplement.

Moringa

Moringa

The moringa tree is native to North India and most of this beautiful tree is edible, including the fruits and leaves. With a very impressive nutritional profile, moringa contains protein as well as a list of vitamins and minerals that reads like a A-Z multivitamin supplement. Only in a much more natural way.

Eating any food that’s rich in a few nutrients will be beneficial to health, but consuming a superfood such as moringa will help to support the normal functioning of the biological systems of the body, multiple-fold.

How to include moringa in your diet

The most nutritious part of the moringa tree are the leaves, which is why you’ll normally find moringa in a concentrated powered form, which is ideal for adding to smoothies and juices.

How to supplement your diet with moringa

Organic moringa capsules from G&G Vitamins contain a concentrated extract of the nutrient rich leaves of the moringa tree.

Pomegranates

Pomegranates

Pomegranates get their rich red colour from the presence of antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants help to neutralise free radicals, unstable molecules that can cause damage to our cells and DNA leading to disease. Eating a diet that includes antioxidant rich foods is beneficial to health.

How to include pomegranates in your diet

Pomegranates aren’t a ‘mainstream’ fruit, but they are widely available nevertheless, pomegranate juice even more so. The flesh contained within a pomegranate is actually in seed form and the seeds are bright red, crunchy and sweet. They can be eaten alone, or they complement salads, particularly Middle Eastern inspired ones, very well.

How to supplement your diet with pomegranates

Like blueberries, pomegranates can be dried and concentrated to form a powder that can be used in smoothies or taken as a daily supplement in capsule form.

Bee products

Bees are amazing insects, responsible for pollinating more than half of the crops in the world and for producing around a third of the food we eat. That aside, they produce wonderfully sticky and sweet honey. But that’s not all, other bee products such as these here are less well-known superfoods.

Royal jelly

Royal jelly

Royal jelly is produced by glands in the heads of the active worker bees and is a milk-like substance that is incredibly rich in health supporting nutrients. In fact, the queen bee of each hive exists on royal jelly alone and tends to outlive her workers, often by many years.

Regal by name and nature, royal jelly is rich in the B vitamins that help to release the energy from our food and amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, that help the muscles and other tissues in the body grow and repair.

How to include royal jelly in your diet 

Eating honey complete with the honeycomb (which is wax-like and chewy but delicious) is a great way of consuming royal jelly since it’s found within the honeycomb rather than the honey. It’s best eaten straight from the jar or added to smoothies.

How to supplement your diet with royal jelly

If you’d rather not eat honeycomb, or for the days that you don’t, G&G royal jelly capsules contain concentrated royal jelly and have a rich nutritional profile.

Bee propolis

Bee propolis

Bees use propolis to cover and seal the walls of their hives, due to its sticky, glue-like properties. Bee propolis is produced by bees and is a mixture of beeswax, natural bee secretions and sap from nearby plants and trees.

This little-known substance gets its superfood crown from the fact that it’s rich in polyphenol antioxidants called flavonoids that help to support a healthy immune system. What’s more, bee propolis is thought to have antiseptic properties from substances called terpenes that can be beneficial managing infections.

How to include bee propolis in your diet 

Like royal jelly, bee propolis is found naturally in honey that’s complete with the honeycomb, so eating honeycomb will help you benefit from propolis.

How to supplement your diet with bee propolis

The quality and nature of bee propolis depends greatly on where the bees are foraging. The bee propolis extract capsules from G&G Vitamins is made from high quality, concentrated propolis.

Bee pollen

Bee pollen

Bee pollen is the name given to the pollen collected from bees foraging on nearby plants and flowers, once they’ve formed it into tiny granules by mixing it with nectar and bee secretions. It has an impressive nutritional profile since it contains vitamins, minerals and amino acids. In fact, it contains over 200 different active nutritional compounds.

Like bee propolis, bee pollen is high in beneficial antioxidants and antiseptic compounds and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial to health and earning its right as a superfood.

How to include bee pollen in your diet

Bee pollen is available from health food stores and can be sprinkled onto breakfast granolas and porridge or used in smoothies.

How to supplement your diet with bee pollen

Bee pollen capsules are also available from high street health food stores for additional ease of use.

Supporting your health with superfoods and superfood supplements

Adding these incredible foods to your diet or supplementing an otherwise healthy diet with superfood supplements is beneficial to health.

No one food or supplement contains the elixir of life or enough nutrients to sustain us, so variety is key. Experiment with superfoods to enjoy a world of delicious, nutritious and healthy meals that will help you live a healthy, active and abundant life.

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Hannah de Gruchy
Hannah de Gruchy

Author

Health and wellness author and biologist specialised in sustainability, nutrition and eco-living.


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