We know that eating a variety of foods low in sugars is good for us and that eating foods of different colours helps us to get a mix of vitamins and nutrients, but can we help ourselves even further and support our immune system by eating a rainbow of Superfoods?
A superfood is defined as “a nutrient- rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”, oxford online. Although there are no set criteria for a food to be considered ‘super’ some of them always make the list. If we take a look at a few of these, we can identify the added benefits they may be able to add to our diet.
As the childhood song goes, red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, but can you eat one too?
RED - Pomegranate
Pomegranate seeds get their vibrant red hue from polyphenols. These chemicals are powerful antioxidants. They contain higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruits and a glass of Pomegranate juice contains three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea (article). The antioxidants in Pomegranate juice can help remove free radicals, protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation (article).
The Juice of one Pomegranate has more than 40% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. The flavanols in pomegranate juice may help block the inflammation that contributes to osteoarthritis and cartilage damage (article). The juice is currently being studied for its potential effects on osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of arthritis and joint inflammation (article).
YELLOW - Turmeric
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has a long history of use in traditional medicine. This flavour-filled spice is primarily cultivated from the rhizomes, or roots, of a flowering plant in India and other parts of Southeast Asia, and aside from giving curry its vibrant yellow colour, Turmeric is also known for having potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to a past review. (article)
The primary active component of turmeric — and the one that gives the spice its characteristic yellow colour — is curcumin. “Curcumin is a natural antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as possible benefits related to slowing the aging process and preventing Alzheimer’s disease (article) and potentially depression (article).
The Arthritis Foundation has also noted several studies in which Turmeric had reduced inflammation and reduced the aggravation that people with arthritis feel in their joints
PINK - Raspberries
Raspberries are a high fibre food, with up to 20% fibre per total weight. They are also a great source of vitamin C, manganese, B vitamins 1–3, folic acid, magnesium, copper and iron. As for the antioxidants, raspberries contain the all-important anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, gallic acid, cyanidins, pelargonidins, catechins, kaempferol and salicylic acid.
Yellow raspberries are also grown, but they have fewer antioxidants. A compound found in raspberries, raspberry ketone, is routinely touted as a weight loss supplement, though more research is needed to determine the veracity of the claims (article).
One of the most fascinating new areas of raspberry research involves the potential for raspberries to improve management of obesity. Although this research is in its early stages, scientists now know that metabolism in our fat cells can be increased by phytonutrients found in raspberries, especially rheosmin (also called raspberry ketone).
By increasing enzyme activity, oxygen consumption, and heat production in certain types of fat cells, raspberry phytonutrients like rheosmin may be able to decrease risk of obesity as well as risk of fatty liver. In addition to these benefits, rheosmin can decrease activity of a fat-digesting enzyme released by our pancreas called pancreatic lipase. This decrease in enzyme activity may result in less digestion and absorption of fat (article).
GREEN - Wheatgrass juice
One of the greatest greens packed full of vitamins and nutrients. The pigment chlorophyll gives this plant its vibrant green colour and with high levels of Vitamin A, B5, B12 & E, Wheatgrass can help boost energy levels, reduced tiredness and fatigue, support a healthy immune and improve hair and skin. One of the top documented Wheatgrass benefits its ability to increase red blood cells in the body, making it an excellent immunity booster. It contains key nutrients that help to support the immune system, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and enzymes. This gives your body the nutrients it needs to fight off infections.
It is also an excellent antioxidant containing several important antioxidants, including glutathione and vitamins C and E.
Antioxidants are compounds that fight free radicals to prevent cell damage and reduce oxidative stress.
Some studies have found that antioxidants may help protect against certain conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis and neurodegenerative diseases (article).
Overall a fabulous source of vitality boosting nutrients.
PURPLE - Beetroot
Beetroot was first harvested by the Romans and has long held a high commercial value. The plant pigment betacyanin gives beetroot its rich purple colour and is thought to help supress the development of some types of cancer (article) High in fibre it is good for bowel function and may assist in preventing constipation.
Beetroot fibre has been shown to increase the number of white blood cells, which are responsible for detecting and eliminating abnormal cells (article). Red beetroots have been ranked as one of the 10 most potent antioxidant vegetables and are also one of the richest sources of glutamine, an amino acid, essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.
Other studies have looked at the effect of beetroot juice on blood pressure (article). A reduction in blood pressure is beneficial for the avoidance of heart disease and stroke. Studies state that nitrate rich foods like beetroot may help in heart attack survival.
ORANGE - Goji Berry
Goji berries are also known as Lycium barbarum and sometimes called ‘wolfberries’. Native to Asia, these orange/red berries have long been used in traditional medicines. Most dark blue, red and orange berries, contain high levels of antioxidants, which may help protect the body against damage from free radicals.
What's unique about goji berries is that they contain specific antioxidants called Lycium barbarum polysaccharides, which are thought to provide a variety of impressive health benefits. In addition, goji berries provide 11 essential amino acids—more than other common berries (article).
BLUE - Blueberries
Blueberries often top many lists of Superfoods because they are rich in vitamins, soluble fibre and phytochemicals. A study published in 2013 in the journal Circulation found that a high intake of phytochemicals known as flavonoids — which are found in blueberries as well as other kinds of berries — may reduce the risk of certain heart conditions in young women.
Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps protect cells against damage and aids in the absorption of iron.
Blueberries are low in calories and a 100g serving provides 1.5g fibre. A wide range of colourful fruits and vegetables are encouraged as part of a balanced diet and blueberries are a fantastic choice to include. One portion of blueberries is about a handful.
Can you eat a rainbow?
With the many different properties of the Superfoods above, it can sometimes be challenging to know what is best to eat and how. However, with all the additional nutritional benefits that can be gained, not to mention the pleasure to the eyes, we think it’s worth trying to eat the Rainbow of Superfoods. To make life easier many of these foods can be found in our Superfood juices, with health benefits that compliment each other.