‘Superfood’ conjures up some magical, comic hero of the food world that will miraculously make you lose weight, save you from every disease, look and feel younger – all with a single bite. While there are hints of truth to these grand deeds, it’s helpful to know what defines a ‘superfood’ and which Asian superfoods you can incorporate into your meals regularly to reap the rewards.
A superfood is considered a natural, nutrient rich food that has increased nutritional benefits (beyond regular foods) that can help bolster your health. Like all healthy foods, they should be consumed in moderation, as part of a balanced diet. Remember, it’s not just what you eat, but how much you eat!
Shitake mushrooms have a distinct umami (savoury, meaty) flavour and are easily incorporated into stir fry’s, soups and stews. They are known for boosting the immune system and are rich in vitamin B2, zinc and selenium making them a great anti-cancer food. Jaclyn Reutens, Active8me expert and Dietician at Aptima Nutrition and Sports Consultants, explains they “also have a newly discovered sulphur compound which has antioxidant properties that mop up free radicals”. Antioxidants are associated with reducing inflammation and helping with the appearance of younger looking skin.
Read about other foods that make you look younger.
Soy Beans have been unfairly criticised lately due to the over-processed nature of other popularly consumed soy products. But when served whole or fermented, like tempeh, fermented tofu, miso and tamari, the full benefits are experienced. The low calories and high fibre content of soy beans means you can satisfy your appetite by filling up on a relatively small amount, making them ideal for snacks. In addition, the omega-3 fatty acids found in soy beans are great for reducing bad cholesterol that leads to heart disease. Spiced Roasted Edamame makes a delicious and nutritious superfood snack (check out the Active8me app’s meal plans to see the recipe). Sign up now for your FREE 21-Day trial to experience some amazing superfood inspiration and recipes.
This leafy green dynamo is categorised as a cruciferous vegetable (the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts) and has been cultivated for centuries in Asia. The iron in bok choy is efficiently absorbed, and combined with its magnesium, zinc and vitamin K, it contributes to building and maintaining strong bones. Iron and zinc, as well as vitamin C, play crucial roles in the production of collagen, the compound responsible for firm, youthful skin. A mere 100g of bok choy provides around half your daily requirement of vitamin C and 30% of vitamin A, with only 19 calories!
Goji Berries, also known as wolfberries, have a long history associated with traditional Chinese medicine. While there are more studies to be conducted, one emerging benefit is the positive effect they have on the stabilizing blood glucose and the impact this can have on diabetes. Diabetes is becoming a major health issue across Asia with 60% of the world’s diabetics living in Asia – yes 60%.
It is a disease that results in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated (and dangerous) levels of glucose in the blood. It is also closely linked to obesity and heart disease.
Active8me expert, Jaclyn suggests Goji Berries can be good for your eyes and skin because of their rich source of vitamin A. They are also high in vitamin C and selenium, two powerful antioxidants associated with protecting the heart and helping to prevent cancer. Try creating your own trail mix to snack on, by adding dried wolfberries to nuts and seeds. They can also be added to herbal soups or steamed with rice for a light, sweet flavour.
This gnarly looking spice offers a zesty, yet powerful addition to many dishes. Its benefits range from quelling motion sickness to reducing inflammation. A study published in The Journal of Pain demonstrated that daily consumption of raw ginger resulted in moderate-to-large reductions in muscle pain following exercise induced muscle soreness. Muscle soreness after a workout is a natural occurrence and necessary in the process of building stronger muscles. Including ginger into your post-workout meals or tea could alleviate the pain associated with this gain!
Read about how another super-spice, Turmeric, can help your skin look younger.
Asian cuisine is filled with so many fresh food options which makes eating clean and making good food choices achievable. And including some of these superfoods will further enhance the benefits of clean eating. Jaclyn suggests including “a large variety of vegetables. The more colourful, the more nutrients you are putting in your body” and she notes that they are not only effective at satisfying your hunger, they are great for your digestive system too.
Are you unsure what exactly ‘clean eating’ is all about? Find out more by downloading the FREE Active8me Clean Eating Information Guide.