7 nutrition wonders of the world
VITL Nutritionist, Libby Limon tells us her top 7 wondrously nutritious foods from around the world.
Japan – Natto. Never heard of it? Well, this is Japan’s secret superfood. Made from soybeans fermented with probiotic Bacillus subtilis, it’s high in protein and extremely nutrient dense1. Highlights include vitamin K21, which has been shown to potentially reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women by as much as 80%2. Fermented soybeans such as natto contain Vitamin PQQ, which is very important for the skin. It is also a rich source of Vitamin K which has repeatedly been shown to reduce blood clots by slowing arterial calcification, enhance liver function and encourage the flow of urine. Additionally, natto suppresses excessive immune reactions.
India – Turmeric is an ancient Ayurvedic spice with strong protective properties. Studies reveal that turmeric is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticancer agent3. If there really was a ‘cure-all’ food, this would be it. Supplementing your diet with turmeric is one way to protect against numerous diseases including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s.
America – Historically, kombucha (fermented tea) has been home-brewed or locally brewed in Asia. Since the late 1990's it has become commercially available, mainly in North American retail stores. It is now a multimillion dollar business set to reach a value of over $1.8 billion by 20204. Kombucha is simply tea which has fermented with a “symbiotic 'colony' of bacteria and yeast” (SCOBY). Its probiotic cultures and enzymes support detoxification, anti-oxidation, increase energy production and immunity5.
South America – Maca is the superfood of some of the oldest civilizations on earth; the Incas and Peruvians. Over the centuries, maca has been called “the food of the gods”. For centuries people have been using it for everything from boosting their immune system to fighting signs of ageing, and also simply love the non-caffeinated burst of energy they get by adding maca to their diet. Maca is a source of thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium and iron, which all contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism6.
Eastern Europe – Raw sauerkraut contains lactobacilli bacteria, one of the better-studied types of probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may help improve digestive function, lower your risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and possibly help with lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease, according to the University of Florida Extension7. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has also suggested that this strain of probiotic may also help prevent cancer8. The fermentation process also concentrates and increases the bioavailability of key micronutrients such as iron, vitamin C and vitamin K.
Middle East – Almond is a species of tree native to the Middle East, which is part of the peach family. "Almond" is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Almonds contain high amounts of the commonly deficient mineral magnesium. It is estimated that as much as 89% of the UK population doesn’t consume enough of this essential mineral9. The brown outer shell of almonds contains an ‘anti-nutrient’ that stops you absorbing magnesium. Having blanched almonds, white almond butter or activating your almonds by soaking them overnight will ensure you obtain the most nutrition from them.
Western Europe – Sardines are a small, oily fish that belong to the family called Clupeidae. In some areas, they are also known by the name pilchards. Sardines generally come canned. Their rich nutrient profile, particularly in omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamin D, mean they could help prevent heart disease10, insulin resistance11, age-related macular degeneration, and promote healthy teeth and bones 12. Particularly, sardines are believed to be the key to beautiful skin. Essential fats present in sardines work on a cellular level in your skin. There are several ways in which sardines might help rejuvenate your skin. Firstly, they are rich in fats that your body needs. Secondly, they are rich in antioxidants that protect your body from the damage done by oxidants, which usually result from exposure to sunlight. Finally, sardines save your skin from inflammation and its related diseases. As a small fish, it is both sustainably available and low in pollutants such as mercury.