Superfoods from Naturally Good Food
Superfoods - sometimes called 'power foods' - are nutrient-rich, single-ingredient products that make a great addition to a healthy balanced diet. Each product has its own characteristics and properties.
We should all aim to eat a range of foods: disentangling the benefits of one single food is difficult, as we don't and can't live on any one food source. (Although the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission lived only on potatoes for two months, in an attempt to debunk perceptions that potatoes are unhealthy, aiming to prove instead what a good source of fibre, potassium and vitamin C they are!)
There is also individual circumstances to consider: if you are short of 'X', then it may be appropriate to eat foods high in 'X'; but if your level of 'X' is OK, do you get any benefit in increasing the level in your body? Our bodies are fairly good at self-regulating, so adding vitamin supplements to your diet may have no beneficial impact if you already have an adequate level of vitamins and minerals.
Much has been written about 'Superfoods': depending on what guide you go by, you'll get a different list of 'superfoods' each time. At Naturally Good Food, we list many foods that are generally regarded as being in the 'superfoods' category, including:
- Apricot kernels - apricot kernels are, like most nuts and seeds, very nutritious. Among the nutrients they contain is one called amygdalin, which is also known as vitamin B17. There is some speculation that this attacks cancer cells, and thus can help prevent cancer from breaking out in our bodies. The science behind this is unclear and we would not suggest you eat apricot kernels to cure cancer. We would, however, recommend that you eat dried organic apricots for their taste alone!
- Beetroot - and, in particular, beetroot juice. Studies looking at the humble and rather overlooked beetroot seem to be showing some surprising results. Beetroot juice may boost stamina, to help you exercise longer, may improve blood flow, and may help lower blood pressure. At Naturally Good Food we stock a range of beetroot juices, including shots and tetra pack variations. Considering the low price and good study results, beetroot juice is definitely on my list. (And who can forget Mark Cavendish's coining of the hashtag #pissingrainbow to describe the effect it had on his urine?! It goes an orangey-pink colour, which is normal and harmless. Well, what's good enough for Cav is good enough for me!)
- Blueberries - there are claims that the catechins found in blueberries activate fat-burning genes in abdominal fat cells to assist with weight loss, and belly fat loss in particular. According to research at Tufts University, regularly eating catechins increases abdominal fat loss by 77% and doubles total weight loss. Blueberries contain a group of natural phytonutrients (plant nutrients) called proanthocyanidins, which have the unique ability to protect both the watery and fatty parts of the brain against damage from some environmental toxins. Blueberries are one of the richest sources of proanthocyanidins. Their phytonutrients decrease free radicals levels linked to aging (yes, wrinkling!) and disease. These appear to be some good reasons to include blueberries in your diet - but perhaps the main one is that they are simply good to eat.
- Chia - evidence from the 16th century suggests that chia was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times; economic historians have suggested that it was as important as maize as a food crop. It is still widely used in Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Mexico and Guatemala, with the seeds either ground or whole, in nutritious drinks and as a food source. Chia is grown commercially for its seed, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (the seeds have an extractable yield of 25-30%). In the US, chia seeds are big news for athletes, especially those who go in for endurance events. They're also great for vegetarians and vegans. Don't worry, though, if you can't get on with them: there are many other and potentially cheaper options available.
- Cacao nibs - the basic raw ingredient from which chocolate is derived. One oz of cacao nibs contains 130 calories, 13g of fat, 10g of carbohydrates and 3g of protein. They are one of the best dietary sources of magnesium, as well as a good supplier of calcium, iron, copper, zinc and potassium. Cacao nibs are not as sweet as most chocolate and are slightly crunchy.
- Goji - there are good results supporting the health benefit claims for goji berries coming from small-scale trials.
- Maca powder - maca powder (Peruvian gingseng) is a fast emerging product in the West, but has been used in Peru for endurance, energy and hormonal balance for over 2,000 years. Historians suggest that it was taken by Inca warriors before going into battle, to increase their strength and stamina – something to consider when it's you against the treadmill!
- Oily fish - there is strong evidence to support the idea that oily fish is good for you.
At Naturally Good Food we are seeing a surge in interest in these products, and are listing more and more 'superfoods'. The science behind some of the newer, emerging products is not yet clear, and we feel it inappropriate to speculate about their effectiveness. For others, though, the evidence is abundant. As the science behind these products becomes clearer, we will update our site.
We stock superfoods produced by:
- Booja Booja - you can enjoy these chocolates if you're vegetarian, vegan or following a dairy-free or wheat-free diet. As the company says: 'Everyone needs a little Booja-Booja - now and then'.
- Creative Nature - Creative Nature only source the most nutritionally dense, organic or wild-crafted superfoods available. They were awarded ‘Best Organic Product 2007’ for their organic Peruvian cacao nibs.
- Naturya - founded in 2009, Naturya has quickly grown into a leading brand of power foods (superfoods). They are based in the beautiful village of Southstoke on the outskirts of Bath, with fantastic views across the Midford valley. This somehow chimes nicely with our own wonderful views of the Avon Valley and all its wildlife.
- Infinity Foods - one of our major suppliers, Infinity have been at the forefont of organic food since the early 1970s. All their 'own brand' organic products are certified by the Soil Association (as are all lines packed by Naturally Good Food).
- Raw Health - Raw Health use organic raw ingredients to make their products. Where possible, they soak and sprout these ingredients, to bring their natural vitality to life. Then they make delicious snacks at low temperatures, ensuring that the health-giving nutrients and enzymes stay alive and well.
- Sun Warrior - Sun Warrior is a small, but growing, health food company that's committed to making only the best plant-based foods and supplements, while 'elevating humanity and preserving the planet'. Their mission is clear: to 'illuminate body, mind and planet', and they strive to live their ideals in everything they do, from growing microgreens in their office to sourcing the finest ingredients from around the world when developing a new product.
- Super Nutrients
One of the major problems with trying to understand the benefits of any particular food is that our diet is very varied. It's not sensible to eat just one type of food, and as a consequence, it's difficult to tease out the benefits of any single nutrient-rich food - and after all, having lots of 'x' may also come with a significant amount of 'y', which might not be so helpful. Additionally, research needs to be long-term to have real value.
In this section you will find almost all the foods that are generally associated with the term 'superfoods'. They are all vegetarian and vegan, except for a large range of sustainably fished oily fish, found in our tinned fish section. We also stock beetroot juice, with a number of studies showing clear benefits from its consumption.
Currently, there is a significant amount of research being carried out into the benefits of using 'Indian spices' in your diet, with particular emphasis being placed on the benefits of turmeric.