Our world is evolving rapidly and like any other field, food and nutrition have evolved too. The nutritional potential of the 21st century has finally caught up with modern technology. Just as technology is breaking boundaries, it is allowing us to access a huge varieties of high-quality food products from around the world. One such recent evolution in food and nutrition is “Superfood”.
Lately, all the buzz around superfood has made us wonder if therereally is something that is the Superheroof all foods. Technically, no single food can be labeled the BEST and A SUPERFOOD.
A balanced diet is one that is always the best for our overall health and well-being. However, some food and herbs do stand out for their superior nutritional value and additional health benefits over others.
SUPERFOODis a broad term used for herbs, fruits, and other food products containing high levels of nutrients and bioactive phytochemicals with a lot of health benefits. They are mostly plant-based but may also include dairy products and fish-based items. These organic superfoods are minimally processed and contain an abundance of nutrients like-antioxidants, phytochemicals, healthy fatty acids, etc.
Superfoods cannot be exactly classified as either food or medicine as they comprise the benefits of both. Superfood greens or herbs are thought to improve your overall health as they provide various benefits like clearer and brighter skin, sharper mind, stronger body and immunity. They increase energy and vitality, regulate cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and are even claimed to fight cancer, heart diseases, and the effects of aging. They also elevate serotonin production, fight aging, cleanse, and detoxify our body nourishing us at the deepest levels. (Wolfe 2010)
SUPERFOOD HERBS & SPICES
Having introduced you to the world of superfoods, it is necessary to mention that superfoods are not only nutritious but also tasty and extremely satisfying. These herbal diets help you achieve your ideal weight, diet, and food habits, by transitioning into a healthy diet but without curbing your cravings!! Who said a healthy diet has to be boring?
Here are some super herbs that you must include in your diet for all those amazing benefits:
Basil is a common kitchen herb used in various western cuisines. With around 60 different varieties, the sweet Basil is the commonest type with a slightly sweet flavor and added to pasta, sauces, meat dishes, and baked items.
Basil has a good anti-inflammatory action thus proving beneficial in inflammatory diseases like arthritis, allergies, and inflammatory bowel disorders, etc. It also kills bacteria and has an antioxidant and anti-aging property.
Basil is believed to be beneficial in controlling diabetes and high blood pressure too. It also contains vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, potassium, etc.
Yet another kitchen herb, Rosemary is used in various meat dishes for its savory flavor. It is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, helping fight cancer, enhance immunity, improve circulation, and digestion. It also works wonders for stress, improves memory and concentration.
Rosemary is also believed to help with respiratory diseases by reducing lung inflammation. (Tapsell et al. 2006)
Cumin is a popular spice used in eastern as well as western cuisines. It is especially known for its amazing digestive benefits. It stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes, enabling your stomach to break down the food.
Cumin is also rich in anti-oxidants, hence helps detoxify the body. Its beneficial effects in diabetes make it a super herb. Cumin is known to control blood sugar levels and sometimes work as well as diabetic drugs in controlling insulin and glycogen levels. It contains iron and vitamins A and C. (Kurian 2012)
In many cultures, cumin is dry roasted and eaten after meals to easily digest a heavy meal. You can also use it to saute vegetables, curry, or with other herbs.
Though popularly used in Italian dishes, oregano is now gaining popularity all over the world for its flavourful aroma. Its potent antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory action is cherry on the cake.
Though its oil is used for medicinal purposes, oregano can be consumed as a herb to gain maximum benefits. Its strong antioxidant level makes it a strong free radical scavenger helping in preventing cancer and fighting other diseases.
Whether you use it fresh in your curry and veggies or use it as a dried herb in salads, soups, or pasta, oregano must be consumed regularly to gain its super-effects.
Mint has been highly valued for its positive effects on the digestive system and anti-inflammatory actions exerting a beneficial action in asthma, chest problems, and mouth ulcers. (Tapsell et al. 2006). Its antibacterial action against E.Coli promotes digestive health.
Mint also contains anti-tumor phytochemicals, therefore, making it an anti-cancer super herb.
You can add fresh chopped green mint to your salads, yogurts, lemonade, or tea for not only its benefits but also for a wonderful freshness.
Sage is one of the many herbs used with Rosemary in meat dishes for a strong flavor and has similar nutrients as Rosemary. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial actions are believed to fight brain aging.
Although used for culinary purposes, thyme has many medicinal properties especially in sore throat, bronchitis, chest congestion, asthma, and laryngitis. It is so effective that its active ingredient thymol is even used in mouthwashes and cough drops for throat inflammation and infection.
Thyme also has a digestive effect as it soothes the stomach to relieve indigestion. Interestingly, a study recently discovered the role of thyme in boosting production of omega-3 fatty acids in heart, brain and kidney cells. Its slightly sweet and minty flavour can add a zing to your soups, stews and vegetable dishes.
Ginger is a root that is used for its spicy flavor and known for its multiple health benefits. It is a rich source of 25 different antioxidants making it a superhero in fighting free radicals in our body. It is commonly used to reduce nausea and vomiting especially in motion sickness, and morning sickness.
Ginger is a household remedy in sore throats as it soothes your throat from cold and flu due to its antiviral action. Some studies have shown its strong anti-inflammatory beneficial action in arthritis, and muscle aches. (Altman and Marcussen 2001), (Tapsell et al. 2006)
Ginger can be consumed throughout your meal, unlike other herbs-from appetizers, salads, soups, to main and side dishes, desserts, and beverages, especially tea.
Extracted from the Moringa tree which is also known as the Miracle tree, as every part of the tree is edible — from the leaves, roots, to immature seed pods, flowers, and seeds. Fresh Moringa leaves can be consumed as daily food, or it can be available also in dried powder form, which can be added to soups, smoothies, and salads.
Moringa is one of the most potent and powerful superfoods to combat tiredness and fatigue. A glass of super smoothie at the end of the day is enough to re-energize you.
Moringa is full of natural amino acids, magnesium, minerals and vitamins,and has the highest protein content among other plant-based foods. Its antioxidant, anti-hypertensive, anti-ulcerative and analgesic properties have made it superfood of superfoods.
Moringa contains eye-protective Lutein, detoxifying chlorophyll, anti-hypertensive Beta-sitosterol and hundreds of other extremely beneficial components. That is the reason why since centuries people of Asia, Africa, and South America have traditionally been using this plant to treat a plethora of diseases which the western world has only lately discovered.
Chlorellais one of the seaweed derivative being a unicellular green alga residing in freshwater and is a rich source of chlorophyll.
Chlorella is a potent green superfood boasting a vast nutritional profile of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. It also contains the highly unique and potent content of Chlorella Growth Factor; these nucleic acids are shown to reverse aging and maximize cellular health. It helps detoxifying the body by eliminating heavy metals and other harmful compounds from the body.
Chlorellaalso contains various peptides and polysaccharides that promote systemic health and rejuvenation.
Studies have shown a potent action of chlorella in treating hypertension, fibromyalgia (Merchant, Carmack, and Wise 2000), ulcerative colitis and protection against cancer. (Merchant and Andre 2001)
Whether you create a superfood salad or add it to your diet as a superfood supplement, the food values of these herbs and food products just cannot be ignored. They would pack a punch to your health without you having to muster up the willpower to give up your hunger.
Right from Miracle Moringa to detoxifying chlorella superfoods and super herbs are the most powerful weapons that must be kept in our arsenal to ward off any diseases and maintain a healthy life. However, it is important to remember that the healthiest of diets are ones that are diverse and well-balanced with nutritious food in just right quantities.
Altman, R. D., and K. C. Marcussen. 2001. “Effects of a Ginger Extract on Knee Pain in Patients with Osteoarthritis.”Arthritis & Rheumatism. https://doi.org/3.0.co;2-j”>10.1002/1529-0131(200111)44:11<2531::aid-art433>3.0.co;2-j.
Kurian, A. 2012. “Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices.”Handbook of Herbs and Spices. https://doi.org/10.1533/9780857095688.72.
Merchant, R. E., and C. A. Andre. 2001. “A Review of Recent Clinical Trials of the Nutritional Supplement Chlorella Pyrenoidosa in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia, Hypertension, and Ulcerative Colitis.”Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 7 (3): 79–91.
Merchant, R. E., C. A. Carmack, and C. M. Wise. 2000. “Nutritional Supplementation with Chlorella Pyrenoidosa for Patients with Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Pilot Study.”Phytotherapy Research: PTR 14 (3): 167–73.
Tapsell, Linda C., Ian Hemphill, Lynne Cobiac, David R. Sullivan, Michael Fenech, Craig S. Patch, Steven Roodenrys, et al. 2006. “Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices: The Past, the Present, the Future.”Medical Journal of Australia. https://doi.org/10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006.tb00548.x.
Wolfe, David. 2010.Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future. North Atlantic Books.