Have you ever wondered what is the best way to enjoy the benefits of superfoods without hunting down exotic ingredients or breaking the bank? In fact, it is a myth that superfoods are somehow rare and unaffordable.
There are plenty of commonplace foods which can be described as superfoods due to their wide range of nutrients or the potency of certain key vitamins, minerals or other micronutrients.
However, it is not enough to consume one or two superfoods on their own. The best way to enjoy their benefits is to use them as part of a well-balanced diet. Here is how to construct a healthy meal plan incorporating your favorite superfoods.
Getting the Right Nutrient Balance
Dieticians and other health experts regularly remind people that they cannot take in all the nutrients they need from one food and so they are hesitant to use the term ‘superfood’ for that reason.
They are absolutely correct in what they say but that doesn’t mean that adding superfoods to your diet won’t introduce a cocktail of important nutrients, some of which many of us are deficient in (e.g. zinc, iodine and selenium).
When building your superfood meal plan, make sure you start with the foundations. This means including sufficient carbohydrates for energy, a couple of portions of fruit and veg per meal for fiber and a good selection of vitamins and minerals plus a small amount of fat. Fat is necessary to transport your fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and also to cushion your internal organs.
Water is also important in all of the body’s chemical reactions and helps to maintain blood health while two or three portions of dairy every day will provide you with sufficient Vitamin D and calcium.
From this base, you can then move on to the exciting part: choosing which superfoods to include to bring even greater health benefits into your life. The next section will provide you with some ideas to kick-start your own superfood meal plans.
How to Eat Superfoods at Every Meal
Spirulina is one ingredient you can easily add to your superfoods diet plan. This variety of blue-green algae is a good source of beta-carotene (which is converted in the body to Vitamin A) and Vitamin B12. It also contains protein, organic iron and essential fatty acids among other nutrients. Adding a teaspoon of powdered spirulina to your morning oatmeal is a simple way to boost the nutritional content of your breakfast.
Salmon is another superfood which provides multiple nutrients to help boost health. Taking two 3.5 ounce portions of salmon or other oily fish a week is even recommended by the American Heart Association due to its high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and low saturated fat and triglyceride content. It has been shown that eating oily fish on a regular basis is linked to reduced incidence of abnormal heart rate and slowed plaque growth.
The benefits of salmon don’t stop there. Each portion of this delicious fish also provides high-quality protein; B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12); Vitamin D; phosphorus, potassium; selenium and astaxanthin (a powerful antioxidant associated with a range of benefits).
If you are worried about the cost of adding fresh salmon to your diet, consider canned or even alternative fish like grilled mackerel.
For dessert, incorporating strawberries and blueberries is a great way to increase the levels of Vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C is important for a wide range of bodily processes including collagen formation (necessary for wound healing), iron absorption and the maintenance of teeth and bones. These fruits also contain anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid which seems to benefit the heart.
This is backed up by a 2013 study published in the journal, ‘Circulation.’ In the study, over 90,000 women were given half a cup of strawberries and blueberries three times a day. The results showed a decreased incidence of MI (myocardial infarction) in the test group.
Of course, this is just a small selection of superfoods you could try adding to your meal plans. Here are a few more suggestions of foods (some of them superfoods) you might want to experiment with:
- Sweet potato. This nutrient-rich vegetable provides Vitamin A to help bolster the immune system.
- Mushrooms. A good source of Vitamin D and quick to prepare too.
- Beans. Packed with goodness, including vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.
- Kale. Contains beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron and calcium (as do other dark, leafy greens).
- Turkey. A low-fat alternative to beef and other meats for non-vegetarians.
- Whole grains. Rich in fiber, whole grains and associated products keep the digestive system in good working order.
The Importance of Preparation
The way in which raw ingredients are prepared has a big impact on the final result. In general, the less processed an ingredient, the more likely it will retain its nutritional goodness.
When cooking vegetables for example, steaming is a better method than boiling or roasting.
Spending time on food preparation can be a shock to the system if you are used to ordering takeouts, living on TV dinners or throwing together a quick sandwich. However, even if you can set aside one or two days a week to create a real meal, your body and mind will thank you for it.
Topping Up Your Nutrition with Greens Plus Drinks
Once you have taken care of the fundamentals of a nutritionally-balanced diet and added in a few favorite superfoods, a Greens Plus superfood drink can be used to keep your nutrient levels topped up throughout the day.
Our drinks come in a variety of flavors and are suitable for most special diets. Read the ingredients list on each of the product pages to find out which superfoods are included and in what quantities.
Some drinks have different nutrient profiles to others so it is worth taking some time reading through each product description.
Good luck in constructing your healthy superfood meals. All of the extra efforts will be worth it in terms of increased energy, positive mood, a resilient immune system, optimal digestion and a healthy physique.