Superfood alternatives that won’t break the bank
Acai, Goji, Spirulina: each of these “Superfoods” represent some of the most impressive sources of health-enhancing nourishing goodness you can find. Unfortunately, these exotic specialities also tend to be very expensive. Moreover, at No Targets, we have an aversion to the term ‘Superfood”; most real food is super, it’s the combination of foods that is more important. But with so much media attention on the more exotic, to help save money I researched the key constituents and health benefits that give these foods their reputation and identified some better value alternatives. These can deliver a health boost at a lower cost, will be easier to buy and certainly be easier to pronounce.
Acai: alternative sources of anthocyanins
Anthocyanins are the reason for the almost mythical following for Acai berries. Believed to inhibit cancer cell growth and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, anthocyanins are by no means unique to Acai. They can be found in something as mundane as an apple, but the best bet are purple or red fruit or vegetables, with cherries, grapes, radishes & blueberries some of my favourites.
Goji: alternative sources of carotenoid beta-carotene
Carotenoid beta-carotene underpins the attraction of Goji berries. The body converts it to vitamin A, helping to boost the immune system. The more affordable alternatives: leafy greens such as spinach, carrots, peas, red peppers, or if you have a sweet tooth, apricots.
Spirulina: alternative sources of protein
With its ability to help the body repair damaged tissues, build bones, skin and muscle, protein is the big attraction of the seaweed Spirulina. However, as Spirulina is also highly absorbent it also carries a risk of being contaminated by heavy metals and other toxins. Lower risk and cheaper alternatives include lean meats, eggs and dairy products, or nuts, seeds and soybeans for vegetarians.
Pomegranates with their polyphenols, antioxidants that may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, have taken on a special aura in recent years. Yet the seeds from the fruit can be awkward to extract, while packaged pomegranate seeds are more expensive. Grapes are an easier alternative, with parsley or even a small glass of red wine options to consider.
Don’t underestimate the hidden health benefits of more ubiquitous real foods
The rare and exotic can be fun, but don’t underestimate the benefits of real food we can easily eat daily. Many hidden nutritional benefits of real food have only become clear to us relatively recently, with more discoveries all the time. Take eggs; high in leucine, an amino acid, this helps turn protein into muscle. According to a study in the International Journal of Obesity swapping a morning bagel for two eggs led to 65% more weight loss, while eating one egg a day boosts levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, important for eye health. In the case of grapes, they have been shown to aid with cardiovascular disease and the immune system, while they have also shown health benefits in cancer prevention, such as prostate, colon and breast. They even have high water content, beneficial for hydration. Meanwhile red peppers turn out to be a good source of lycopene, beta-carotene and kryptoxanthin, nutrients important for overall health. A good source of sulpher-containing compounds, which may even serve as the basis for some anti-cancer benefits.
No need to get hung up on celebrity superfoods, just embrace regular real food and trust in the force of its hidden benefits in enhancing your wellness.
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