15 essential nutritionist-approved superfoods

The VITL Nutrition Team / Mar 4, 2015

Nutrient-dense superfoods are a great way to get your fix of a range of important vitamins, minerals, amino acids and natural antioxidants, all packed into a bite-sized serving.

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Some superfoods you might already have in your kitchen, but others are a little bit more exotic. It can be difficult to know how each superfood can benefit you, so here are our 15 superfood superheroes, all of which you can find in VITL's supergreens capsule:

1. Acai berries
Acai berries are a great source of vitamins C and E, iron, and potassium. They have very high concentrations of anthocyanins, the antioxidants that give them their deep purple colour. In fact, gram for gram, they contain over 40 times more antioxidants than an apple does, and 30 times more than cherries!


2. Beta carotene-rich sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a good alternative to regular potatoes, with a lower glycaemic index and providing lots of beta carotene. Beta carotene is a form of antioxidant vitamin A which helps to maintain healthy eyes and skin. Beta carotene is also found in many orange coloured fruits and vegetables like cantaloupe melons, carrots and squash.


3. Bilberry
Several studies support the role of bilberry's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in maintaining a healthy heart, eyes and skin. Its antioxidant anthocyanins are thought to help protect the cornea and macula of the eye from age-related damage.


4. Blackberry
Blackberries are another excellent source of anthocyanins and ellagic acid, which are powerful antioxidants. Blackberries have multiple times more ellagic acid than cranberries, walnuts and pecans. Blackberries are low in calories and high in fibre, so they’re great for digestive health.


5. Broccoli
Broccoli is a type of cruciferous vegetable that researchers believe may help in the defence against cancer. It’s full of bone-strengthening vitamin K and immunity boosting vitamin C. Broccoli also has lots of protein for a vegetable and a healthy amount of digestive-friendly fibre.


6. Chlorella
Chlorella is a superfood that is great for helping the body to remove toxins by binding to heavy metals that can act as toxins. It is also thought to help with cell renewal and activate enzymes needed for digestion. Chlorella also contains iodine, which is important for normal thyroid function and controlling adrenal activity which affects levels of hunger, alertness and mood.


7. Citrus bioflavonoid-rich oranges
Oranges and other citrus fruits contain citrus bioflavonoids, phytonutrients that help to increase vitamin C absorption which is vital to keep your immune system healthy. Research suggests that their anti-inflammatory effects may help cardiovascular function.


8. Garlic
The allicin in garlic has long been regarded as a powerful antimicrobial agent. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory ingredient and can help to boost your immunity. It is often used to support cardiovascular health since it can help balance high cholesterol and blood pressure levels.


9. Ginger
Ginger has been used as a stomach soother and digestive aid for thousands of years. Some studies have even found that ginger can naturally lower nausea and stomach pains by 38%. It soothes the digestive tract, can help relieve cramps and bloating, and also helps to boost immunity while lowering inflammation.


10. Goji Berries
Goji berries are a great source of vitamins A and C, selenium, beta carotene and other phytonutrients that are thought to benefit your skin and eyes. Research suggests that they can also help to support healthy digestion.


11. Grapes
Grapes and grape seeds are rich in antioxidant flavanoids. The antioxidant capacity of some of these compounds is 50 times that of Vitamin C and 20 times that of Vitamin E. Studies also indicate that grape seed extract inhibits fat absorption and so may help with weight loss.


12. Green Tea
Green tea is a good way to give your brain function a natural boost and can help with improving focus in a healthy way as it has very low caffeine levels. Studies have also linked green tea to the prevention of Alzheimer's Disease and with weight loss.


13. Spirulina
Spirulina has quite a pungent taste, so many people prefer to take it as a supplement. It is actually a bacteria extracted from seaweed. Spirulina contains all nine essential amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. It is one of the best plant sources of protein - it is 65-70% protein, whereas beef is only about 22% protein. It is also rich in vitamin K and B vitamins, which help to maintain bone health and a healthy metabolism and central nervous system.


14. Lutein-rich Kale
Superfood of the moment kale is rich in lutein, a type of antioxidant carotenoid. It is also found in high quantities in other leafy greens such as chard and spinach. Research indicates that lutein is especially beneficial to eye health and skin health by protecting them from UV damage.


15. Turmeric
Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory root from the same family as ginger that is commonly used as a spice in curries. Turmeric contains curcumin, which can help in restoring healthy blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. It can also be used on the skin to help calm inflammation and irritations. Turmeric is best absorbed when eaten with black pepper, so try using both spices together in recipes to get the most out of it.