09 Dec Budget Superfoods
The term ‘superfoods’ has been a buzzword for a while now, and it doesn’t look set to be going anywhere soon. In fact, it just seems to be gaining more traction! If you’ve ever wondered exactly what constitutes a ‘superfood’ and why we should include them in your diet, you would not be alone. It can be a confusing area. It’s natural to automatically think that they are simply foods that are nutrient-dense and flavour-rich, bought at boutique wholefoods markets and that come with hefty price tag, right? Well, yes … and no. There is a little more to it than we think.
Firstly, super foods don’t need to be expensive or difficult to access. Many are available in your local supermarket and therefore “Budget Superfoods”.Easy to include in your summer smoothies and salads.
To clarify and expand on this, Gently Vegan Publisher and Vegan Food Coach, Catherine Carr, sat down with Michaela Sparrow a Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist and Certified Anti-Ageing Practitioner BHSc, ACAAM, MANTA. She also gleaned her top picks for superfoods that tick all the boxes. Think: anti-aging, easy to access and budget conscious!
Catherine Carr: What exactly are superfoods? Why is it so important to include them in our diet?
Michaela Sparrow: Superfoods, are foods that have a “super” high nutrient density, they provide far more beneficial vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients than calories. They are important to add to your diet because they act like a nutritional insurance policy, you can be safe knowing when consuming superfoods daily that you are super charging your nutrient stores and helping accelerate certain beneficial biochemical processes in the body (particularly helpful for aiding in the prevention of chronic diseases & some cancers).
CC: It often seems that being healthy is expensive, are superfoods available on all budgets?
MS: Being healthy does not have to be expensive, many superfoods are very humble fruit and vegetables, that you can buy from the majority of super markets. Something like sprouts which are ridiculously cheap to buy (and one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet).
Other affordable (and anti-ageing) super foods that are my favourite to include in your diet are berries, cauliflower, cabbage, baby spinach & macadamia nuts. If you are adding in a couple of serves of these affordable super foods every day, over the long term you will make a significant positive impact on your health, help target the known causes of ageing and increase your longevity.
CC: Summer is a fantastic time to include more raw foods in our diets. Which superfoods should we include in our salads?
MS: My top picks for supercharging the nutritional benefits of your salads are:
• Broccoli sprouts: These are actually my most favourite anti-ageing food ever (so much so I even give them to my dogs). These little guys are literally one of the most nutritious anti-ageing foods you could ever put in your body. They are super high in Vitamin C (if you want to fight wrinkles you want lots of Vitamin C), Vitamin A & minerals such as calcium & iron. Broccoli sprouts also contain compounds called glucosinolates (the main one being sulforophane), this is a powerful anti-ageing compound that reduces inflammation, prevents DNA damage, helps reduce the risk of cancer and even neurodegenerative diseases like dementia & Alzheimer’s. In fact, broccoli sprouts have the highest amounts of these beneficial compounds than any other vegetable. Bonus they add a lovely texture to your salad and are super affordable.
• Pumpkin seeds/pepitas: I love these in salads because they add a delicious crunch. They are super high in magnesium, iron & zinc all of which are important for energy, stress and immunity (which are all important for anti-ageing & longevity) and they also contain a nice amount of protein, important for helping to support healthy muscle mass and for the transport of enzymes and production of hormones.
• Red onion: These are a delicious and affordable additive to your salad. They have one of the highest contents of polyphenols, beneficial anti-ageing compounds for the prevention of many age related diseases. They also aid in healthy liver detoxification & function. I like to choose red over white due to the content of anthocyanins, compounds shown to help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders.
CC: A vegan breakfast favourite and go-to is avocado on toast. How could this be enhanced with more micronutrients?
MS: I love this question because avocado on paleo toast is my favourite breakfast. I would add the following to supercharge your nutrition (add them all if you really want the BEST nutritional start to the day):
• Broccoli sprouts: As you may be aware by now I am anti-ageing obsessed, so any opportunity to add broccoli sprouts to my diet I will. You are getting a nice amount of vitamin c, calcium & iron, plus those fabulous anti-ageing compounds I discussed earlier. Pop these on top with some Himalayan salt & pepper.
• Hemp seeds: One of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, these actually complement broccoli sprouts perfectly for the ultimate anti-ageing combination. Hemp seeds are a great protein source for vegans and also super high in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. They also contain a nice amount of magnesium, zinc, iron and b vitamins. Hemp seeds have a very mild nutty flavour.
CC: At the moment Australia is experiencing poor air quality with fires. What superfoods strengthen our immune systems to cope with this?
MS: There are a couple of my favourite vegetables to boost our immune system, but also when we are looking at how bad the air quality is at the moment we need to take into consideration the toxic load this is having on our liver. So we want to eat foods that support immune function and aid in healthy liver detoxification phases.
• Garlic: This contains sulfur-containing compounds, these are needed for healthy liver detoxification. Garlic also acts as a prebiotic, meaning it feeds our microbiome (our microbiome plays a significant role in how well our immune systems function). Important note: To get the benefits of garlic you need to crush/chop it and then let it sit for 10 minutes before cooking or eating.
• Shitake Mushrooms: You can find these at most super markets, they truly are a super food and consuming them regularly has shown to significantly enhance our immune function, supports gut health and enhances liver function.
• Broccoli sprouts: These actually activate something called the NRF2 pathway, when this is activated it sends all of our cells into defence mode, therefore boosting the ability of our immune function whilst also helping to detoxify the body at a cellular level.
CC: For an anti-aging lunchtime boost, what can you recommend as the perfect Nourish bowl combination?
MS: This is a great question, the most perfect anti-ageing Nourish bowl would have the following ingredients:
• Sauerkraut: To support healthy microbiome, we need a healthy microbiome for optimal ageing
• Roast pumpkin: Rich in beta-carotene which is needed for vitamin a. This is a skin loving nutrient and perfect for helping to fight ageing from the outside in (goodbye wrinkles)
• Avocado: Rich in anti-inflammatory healthy fats. For anti-ageing we need all the anti-inflammatory foods we can get. It is also high in folate which is important for healthy methylation.
• Cucumber: With the skin on, the skin contains high amounts of silica. Silica is a super important mineral for bone health, joints, hair, skin & nails. Cucumber is also highly hydrating.
• Broccoli Sprouts: For all those anti-ageing compounds of course.
• Baby spinach: Rich in all of our minerals, especially iron, it also helps support our microbiome
• Tahini dressing with lemon juice: This combination is high in Vitamin C (which is essential for iron absorption) and also calcium & protein.
• Quinoa: This is a highly nutritious, gluten free grain, which is also a complete protein
• Hemp seeds: As discussed above hemp seeds pack a huge nutritional punch, try a tablespoon over your Nourish bowl.
CC: Do you have a recipe suggestion for the perfect anti-aging smoothie ?
MS: For me a healthy anti-ageing smoothie needs to be high in protein and lower in sugar to keep our blood sugar and insulin stable (very important when it comes to anti-ageing). So this is my go to morning smoothie:
• 2 Tablespoons of vanilla golden pea protein powder
• 1 Tablespoon of Hemp seeds
• 1 Tablespoon of Chia seeds
• 5 Macadamia nuts
• ½ Cup Raspberries (or blueberries or a mix of both)
• 2 Cups of water
• Handful of baby spinach
Blend all of this together, it won’t be the prettiest colour, but it is delicious, super high in all your nutrients, fight inflammation & oxidative stress and will keep your adrenal hormones and blood sugar happy throughout the day.
CC: What superfoods can help keep our skin glowing and hydrated over a long hot summer?
MS: • Watermelon: Obviously watermelon is absolutely delicious, but it is also very high in water and electrolytes, making it super hydrating for every cell in our body. Watermelon also contains high amounts of lycopene which helps protect the skin from sun damage.
• Radishes: These are a less commonly known beauty food. They are high in vitamin c, magnesium, folate and fibre. Radishes are the perfect summer food as they have a peppery taste but a very refreshing. Bonus radishes contain compounds called indoles and these actually work well with sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts. Eat them like cherry tomatoes or in salads.
• Pomegranate: These are the PERFECT beauty food, and make the most delicious addition to sparkling water (think bubble tea without all the nasties). They contain extremely powerful antioxidants called Punicalagins. If we want healthy glowing skin we want to supercharge our antioxidant intake.
CC: Finally, we seem to see a different superfood take the spotlight each season, from Kale to Quinoa, Kiwifruit to Chia. What do you predict will be the next big superfood and why?
MS: I predict Broccoli sprouts will be the superfood of 2020. Every week I see more and more research and articles being released about them. There is no denying the science showing the serious anti-ageing & longevity benefits of broccoli sprouts.
Food Coach and Publisher Catherine Carr