If, as a child, your parents kept nagging you to “eat your spinach” then they were on the right track!

It seems that spinach, dark-green lettuces (baby spinach leaves, rocket/arugula and mignonette), avocadoes and orange sweet potato (kumera) offer the highest quantities of vitamin C, folate, fibre and minerals.

Far better that you eat your broccoli than your beans, healthier to snack on an orange than an apple (yes, despite the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”) and, even though they are cousins, garlic is far superior than onions or shallots as far as nutritional value.

When compared to an apple, an orange has ten times more vitamin C and beta-carotene, a massive 40 times more folate and 4 times more thiamin.

Why are some foods called ‘superfoods’?

Quite simply, some foods are more packed with nutrients than others or they may have medicinal effects beyond simple nutrition.

A superfood is usually high in vitamins and minerals and contains other compounds which research has shown are very beneficial for our health – by lowering our risk of developing certain chronic diseases for example.

As more research is conducted into foods and their obvious (and not so obvious) effects on us, foods can morph into superfoods almost overnight!

Here are just a few examples:

  • Cinnamon, which is usually only sprinkled quite lightly on foods and drinks, has been shown to lower blood glucose levels in those people with diabetes when consumed in larger than usual doses (3 grams per day).
  • One cup of kale has six times the daily value of bone building vitamin K.
  • A cup of regular tea now appears to contain the same antioxidant potential as green tea.
  • Herbs – such as thyme, rosemary and oregano – have strong antioxidant content in addition to their anti-bacterial qualities.
  • Don’t forget dark chocolate – it seems that the more bitter, the better (catechin anti-oxidants). Milk chocolate has only around one third the levels that dark chocolate has (and, as for white chocolate, forget it!)

There are many ‘superfoods’ available these days and it is very important that you include as many into your diet as you can to give your body the very best chance at optimal nutrition.

Some people wait until they have health issues before worrying about what they put into their mouths by the way of food . . . much better to be proactive and give yourself the very best chance for good health and longevity.