Healthy superfoods made easy

July 23, 2009 by  
Filed under featured, Food & Nutrition


Many health regimes advocate you have lots of seeds which can mean lots of opened packets that rapidly go off as you forget to use them up. There is an easier way which is to let someone else put together the perfect health combination and happily a company called Linwoods have taken up the task. They have an interesting combination of milled flaxseed, sunflower, sesame and goji berries which has all your essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. It’s the Super 5 mix and it has a number of health benefits:

Balances your nervous system as there is an amazing 230% of the RDA (recommended daily amount) of Vitamin B12 which plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and is involved in the metabolism of every cell in your body.

Keeps your Hair, Skin and Nails Beautiful with it’s Vitamin E content. This fat soluble antioxidant protects cellular tissue from oxidation and helps protect and repair any damage to your skin, hair and nails.

Boosts your vitamin and mineral intake as it contains a large range of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B Complex, D, E and minerals including Zinc, Iron and Calcium.

Helps prevent osteoporosis as the calcium found in flaxseed and sunflower seeds is a vital mineral that builds bone and keeps it strong.

Keeps you regular and lowers cholesterol as flaxseed is very high in fibre. It contains insoluble fibre help to maintain healthy bowel regularity and soluble fibre which can assist in lowering cholesterol.

Assists in prevention of prostate enlargement as it contains zinc which can help regulate normal cell activity and build immune system response. A strong immune system is needed to calm enlarged and inflamed prostates

A good source of dietary phytooestrogens that help regulate oestrogen levels in the body.

Anti-ageing and good for the immune system, and although Goji berries sound highly exotic they are now found on supermarket shelves – at least they are in my local Sainsbury’s. Very useful if you have vegetarians in the family as they contain all 8 essential amino acids which are the building blocks of protein and can only be obtained from the diet. Something that vegetarians can struggle to have enough of as amino acids cannot be stored in the body but have to be used up every day. They also contain Iron so that makes them a good source of energy and vitamin C which is essential for a healthy immune system.

If you want to stay young and beautiful then Goji berries are high in antioxidants which are indeed anti-ageing, as well as supporting your immune system.

Top 4 foods to fight cholesterol

As winter approaches and cold weather is upon us, we naturally start to change our diets and often we are going for food that is comforting and also high in cholesterol from increased amounts of things like red meat and butter. Now while I admit that a crumpet with low fat spread would never pass my lips, it is sensible at this time of year to look at your overall diet and see if you are including the best possible foods to help fight cholesterol if that is a health problem for you. Women might also want to check out the Health Bites item for a tip on vitamin K.

I don’t think any of these ‘superfoods’ are going to be a revelation to you, but they might remind you of how helpful they can be in your fight to maintain low cholesterol. Many people ask me why I don’t just suggest statins (see previous issues on the website for my negative views on that) or just take one of the many cholesterol-lowering drinks you find in your supermarket. You can, of course, but if you read the labels on many of them you will find they are full of sugar, or worse, sweeteners plus E numbers and colours.

Also, the American Heart Association warns consumers about filling their diet with sterol-enhanced products such as spreads and drinks unless they also cut back on other sources of fat. If you just add these items in without doing so, they warn that obviously it could lead to excess calorie consumption which is not healthy and that anyone who has a history of heart disease or elevated LDL levels, must talk to their doctor before adding these sorts of products into their diet.

These suggestions are for a natural way to control cholesterol, and in these economically challenged times they are also cheaper – and healthier – than those manufactured products.

1 Oats
The Scots have had it right all along, because porridge for breakfast is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. If you don’t fancy the traditional salt version, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you are dealing with heart disease, then try it with semi-skimmed or low-fat milk and sweeten with a little honey or maple syrup. It’s the fibre in the oats that plays a significant role in decreasing “bad cholesterol” (LDL) levels. It works to reduce LDL levels by grabbing onto the cholesterol and eliminating it from the body through the digestive system. If you want to increase your fibre intake even more then add a chopped apple, or some prunes to the breakfast bowl. Some excellent fiber-rich choices besides oatmeal and oat bran include beans, barley, apples and prunes.

2 Plant Sterols
Another way to significantly reduce LDL levels is to include plenty of natural sterols found in fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds. They work by blocking cholesterol absorption and preventing it from getting into the bloodstream. People who include plenty of fruit and vegetables in their diet experience, on average, a 9% decrease in LDL levels and an average 12% reduction in C-reactive protein levels, another key indicator of heart disease risk. Another good reason for exceeding your ’5 a day’ quota.

3 Fatty Fish
I can’t help it, the phrase Fatty Fish reminds me of a childhood reading of Billy Bunter, and doesn’t sound all that appetising does it? However, wild salmon, sardines and anchovies are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. There is so much research now on how these “healthy fats” are essential for so many functions in the body that I hesitate to even mention it. But – in case you haven’t heard, they reduce LDL levels, help lower high blood pressure and cut cardiovascular risk. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may also raise levels of “good cholesterol” (HDL), which helps transport bad cholesterol to the liver, where it can be eliminated from the body. The usual recommendation is to have these fish at least twice a week, but not from the fish and chip shop as they are at their healthiest when grilled or baked.

Vegetarians, or fish haters, can also get the same good benefits from soya beans, seeds or nuts. A study in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that omega-3 fatty acids from walnuts and flaxseeds had as much impact on blood pressure as omega-3 fatty acids from fish. A handful a day is enough to provide the heart benefits you need – any more and you are running into high calorie territory. Oh, and check out the health bites for another benefit of Omega 3.

4 Olive Oil
I have mentioned the benefits of the Mediterranean diet before, and olive oil is a key component of it. For a healthy heart we need to cut down on saturated fat and trans fats – often listed in the ingredients as ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’fats or oils.

Sources of the healthier monounsaturated fats are extra virgin olive oil, avocados, peanuts and nuts and they will all help lower your LDL and raise your HDL levels. Again, however, please be cautious as all types of fat contain more than twice the calories of proteins or carbohydrates.

So how do you combine them in the ideal day? Well you could start with breakfast of porridge with an apple chopped into it, then for lunch a large salad and dinner of grilled fish and home made ratatouille – lots of olive oil and healthy garlic in there!