Seaweed, nuts, berries, cabbage and garlic… all hail the superfoods!
Superfoods are foods known for their ability to regulate intestinal absorption, body pH or oxidative stress, their established health benefits or their exceptional trace element content. They are very diverse and, contrary to popular belief, easy to find. Won’t you have a second serving of those anti-aging delights?
There are many types of nuts and not all of them are super foods. They are mostly rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, the famous omegas, as well as in polysterols, homologues of cholesterol. This puts them at the top of the list in the fight against cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They would also have a beneficial effect on biliary problems and improve the aftermath of cancer, especially colon cancer. In addition to their good lipid content, these super foods have one of the highest levels of trace elements and vitamins, with a champion all categories, cashew nuts that contains magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, selenium, vitamin B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, E and K. It is closely followed by Brazil nuts, which alone can cover our daily needs in selenium, a major antioxidant and anti-aging trace element, which works together with vitamin E, also very present in Brazil nuts. In terms of oxidative stress, however, they are replaced by walnuts, the second food richest in antioxidants and pecan nuts, whose phenolic content is simply through the roof. Walnuts also have a higher protein composition in arginine, providing anti-aggregating and anti-cholesterol-lowering characteristics, both protective of the cardiovascular system[2, 8].
A good trick is to mix nuts, to get a daily serving of 20 to 40 g, and bring you all the benefits of these super foods. You can also use walnut oil, either as a condiment or for topical application. Indeed, it presents interesting characteristics for the fight against skin aging and healing. Finally, don’t be afraid, despite their high fat content, no studies have shown that a reasonable daily intake of nuts causes weight gain.
Cabbage, seaweed and other sprouts
It’s not new, vegetables are good for your health. But what about green super foods? It is a whole family that usually contains several natural active substances: carotenoids, antioxidants, enzymes, proteins, vitamins and minerals. They are also very low in fat and high in fibre, a life-saving combo for our digestive and cardiovascular systems. Among them are algae, especially spirulina, kombu, wakame, nori or sea lettuce, whose antioxidant content is exceptional. Algae are also rich in fibers (for digestion), calcium (for bones), iodine (for the thyroid) and phytosterols (against cholesterol). These super foods seem to be able to help fight cancer and potentiate the action of chemotherapies. While nori and spirulina are relatively easy to find, other algae are often used as a powder to add to salads or mix with water.
Young shoots are another type of super green food, with antioxidants, vitamins and trace elements similar to algae, although without iodine. These include rocket, spinach and watercress, all very rich in carotenoids and flavonoids, powerful antioxidants, which partly explains their beneficial effects on cancer and cardiovascular diseases[12, 13, 14]. In addition to these actions, these three young shoots have a high concentration of vitamins A, C and K, iron, magnesium and manganese.
Finally, we must take an interest in cabbages and similar products, particularly kale, Chinese cabbage and artichokes. Kale is the star of organic shops, because a single 100g serving covers the daily needs of vitamin A, C and K ! It is a major antioxidant, which seems to have a protective effect on cancer. As for artichoke, it is highly appreciated for intestinal, hepatic and biliary well-being and its role in regulating cholesterol. Finally, Chinese cabbage and white cabbage are cruciferous and, when included in a balanced diet, help reduce cardiovascular risk.
Seeds and berries
Data on berries, notably goji berries, cranberries or acai berries, are often contradictory and sometimes leave room for doubt as to their anti-aging capacity. One thing is certain, no effect on weight loss has been scientifically proven, an important characteristic in the fight against aging, since fat mass, especially abdominal fat, is an indicator of longevity. However, these berries are rich in good lipids, proteins and especially, in antioxidants. A few rare studies have examined their effects in cancer and inflammation, with conclusive and mixed in vivo results[20, 21]. Blueberries, on the other hand, are worthy of the name superfoods, especially in terms of aging and associated pathologies. Due to their extremely high antioxidant content, they have a protective effect against diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer’s[22, 23].
As far as seeds are concerned, sunflower seeds are the top superfood. They are indeed very rich in trace elements, sterols and fibres, placing them almost on an equal footing with algae in terms of daily intake. Sunflower seeds are also full of antioxidants which, being rich in omega 6, contribute to the fight against hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular risks associated with age. They can be eaten plain, roasted, sprouted (increases the lysine and tryptophan content) or in the form of oil.
A few standalone superfoods
Beetroot is one of the few plants containing betalains, the pigments that give it its distinctive purplish red color. It turns out that these elements are powerful antioxidants and that their bioavailability is better than most of their counterparts. It is also rich in flavonoids, carotenoids and phenols, exceeding spinach. Several studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in preventing oxidative stress and macular degeneration, as well as increasing sports performance. The pomegranate, once again, is beneficial because of its richness in antioxidants. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral, rich in vitamins and copper. Through its antioxidant action, it helps fight against cancer and oxidation of circulating lipids.
Garlic has been recognized for hundreds of years as an effective anti-infective, especially for intestinal parasites, dental problems and respiratory diseases. It has recently been shown to play a role in reducing hypertension and atherosclerosis, thereby reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease during aging. To change vegetables, cocoa can also be mentioned as a super food. In addition to being full of fiber, sometimes more than certain vegetables, it is rich in antioxidants, thus limiting the occurrence of cholesterol, dilating blood vessels and improving coagulation. It also has a high magnesium content and tryptophan in significant amounts. This tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that, in addition to protecting us from depression, has a beneficial effect on the health of our brain. You have to admit that it’s always nice to eat chocolate!
At the end of the day, a balanced diet is obviously important for healthy aging. If you also add a dose of superfoods to your diet, it’s your shelf life that could be extended!
- Number of publications: over 5000
- Availability: over-the-counter
- Route: as you like it
- Dosage: it depends. There are powders that mix the different super foods (especially seaweed), generally 3 tablespoons per day are recommended. For nuts and seeds, portions of 30 g / day are usual. For vegetables, it’s all you can eat. For berries, literature generally uses portions of 100-200 g / day. For chocolate, limit yourself to 2-3 squares per day (or suffer a very high calory intake!)
No adverse effects are associated with a diet rich in superfoods. On the other hand, attention should be paid to frequent allergies, especially in the case of nuts such as walnuts.
Be careful not to keep the shelled nuts too long in the open air, they quickly become rancid. To preserve them, keep them in their shells (up to 9 months), or peeled in the fridge (up to 1 month) or in the freezer (up to 2 years).
Be careful to check the content of trace elements and vitamins if you buy supplements in powder form. Dehydration can alter their properties.
And above all, don’t hesitate to indulge with innovative recipes or juices full of good things. The recipe apple-kale-cresson-spirulin or beetroot-blueberry-pineapple-acai and/or goji are delicious drinks that will bring you all the benefits of these super foods. Be careful however to use a cold pressure (extractor rather than a blender or a centrifuge) which makes it possible to keep all the minerals, trace elements and vitamins.
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Dr. Marion Tible
Marion Tible has a PhD in cellular biology and physiopathology. Formerly a researcher in thematics varying from cardiology to neurodegenerative diseases, she is now part of Long Long Life team and is involved in scientific writing and anti-aging research.
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Marion Tible est docteur en biologie cellulaire et physiopathologie. Ancienne chercheuse dans des thématiques oscillant de la cardiologie aux maladies neurodégénératives, elle est aujourd’hui impliquée au sein de Long Long Life pour la rédaction scientifique et la recherche contre le vieillissement.
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