Winter is long, dark and possibly full of terrors (sorry, GOT withdrawals). It’s also the heightening season for nasty cold and flu. So if you’re looking for a health boost, you’ve come to the right place. What you need is good dose of immune-boosting superfoods to keep you ill-free. For years now, people have touted the powers of superfoods, and we won’t argue that some fruits, vegetables and proteins offer more health benefits than others. These foods have been linked to a sharper mind, clearer skin, a healthier immune system and much more. From spirulina to dark chocolate (yep, you read that right), here is a list of 7 superfoods you need to include in your diet this winter (and well, your life) STAT.
Did you know a cup of raw chopped kale gives you more than 200% of your daily dose of vitamin A plus a whopping 684% of your daily dose of vitamin K? It’s also high in vitamins C and B6, calcium and potassium. Like it’s relative broccoli, kale also contains high levels of glucosinolate plant compounds, which may be helpful in protecting against certain types of cancer. Pop kale in your pasta, omelettes and salads. Or, for a quick dose you can simply juice it!
Sure lentils aren’t as “trendy” as kale and quinoa, but they’re definitely a superfood in our books. If you’re looking for a meat-free protein to add to your diet, then lentils are your go-to! Just half a cup of cooked lentils give you your daily dose of folate, which is known to help with heart disease. They’re also a great source of folate and magnesium, which also helps oxygen flow around the body and help utilise your energy. Just remember to soak your beans, preferably overnight before using them. Then, make sure to drain and rinse your beans prior to cooking (you want to get rid of the water they were soaked in).
Asparagus is packed with antioxidants, anti-cancer properties and vitamins A, C, E and K. In fact a half cup of asparagus supplied 50% of your daily bone-building vitamin K, and a third of your day’s folate. And since asparagus is a natural diuretic, it banishes bloating by riding the body of excess salt and fluid.
Pomegranates are packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent heart disease. More specifically, these properties can help prevent fatty deposits from building up around our arteries. This buildup can lead to heart attacks, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Studies have found that consuming pomegranate juice daily, can help reduce the development of these fatty deposits in our arteries. But that’s not all, pomegranates are also packed with fibre, vitamins C and K that help boost our immune system.
Ranked as Superfood of the Year in 2013 by the United Nations, it’s not hard to see why quinoa maintains its celebrity status. A solid source of fibre, potassium, vitamins B and E, quinoa contains 9 grams of natural plant protein per cup and all nine essential amino acids the body needs for growth and repair. It’s also rich in calcium, magnesium and manganese, which prevents the blood from clotting, as well as helping break down the metabolism of fat and carbohydrates. This healthy little grain can be added to soups, salads, cereals, granola and heart breakfast bars and desserts! Need we say more?
Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae that’s bursting with health benefits. You can find spirulina in tablet form, flakes or our favourite - powder (or magic dust, whatever works for you). Just one teaspoon (7 grams) of fired spirulina powder contains 4 grams of protein, 2 mg of iron, 8 milligrams of calcium, 14 mg of magnesium, 8 mg of phosphorus, 95 mg of potassium, and 0.7 grams of Vitamin C. It also contains riboflavin, niacin, folate, and vitamins B6, A and K. In short, it’s a superfood by the teaspoon! Add it to smoothies, cereals or breakfast bars for a morning boost of health.
The truth is that we all need look for an excuse to eat more chocolate #amiright? The great thing about dark chocolate is that it can increase blood circulation in your brain (preventing chances of having a stroke) lower blood pressure and even support heart health. Better yet, it’s also packed with antioxidants and flavonoids to help grow new brain neurons. Just be sure that the cocoa content is at least 70 percent, and don’t get too excited - the recommended daily intake is 14 grams.