Functional foods are becoming more known in the health industry as consumers turn towards natural nutritional solutions to improve their personal wellbeing. This is especially so for super foods which contain exceptional levels of antioxidant molecules such as flavonoids, polyphenols, and anthocyanin. Here are just some of my favourites!
1. Goji Berries
A native fruit of the Himalayas, Goji Berries (Lycium Barbarum) are generally found in its dried form, typical of raisins. These berries have been used as traditional chinese medicine (TCM) due to their good source of Vitamin E, phenolics, especially zeaxanthin. Goji berries are high in these coloured pigments that make up the main component of the retina. Including goji berries daily, increases the zeaxanthin content in our eyes, protecting them from damaging blue light from the environment . Tested and trialled, it definitely works!
We’ve all had our share of plump and juicy blueberries but this super berry is also bursting with antioxidant goodness. Anthocyanins are pigments that not only make up the fruits’ intense blue colour , they also carry preventive and therapeutic effects in several health issues such as heart disease, or reducing the risk of cancer.
3. Dark chocolate
Who can deny decadent dark chocolate, even more so when it tastes delicious and is perfect for health! Dark chocolate is available in different percentages of cocoa solids depending on your personal tastebuds. These cocoa solids carry in them dietary flavonoids that have beneficial influence on plasma antioxidant properties . Dark chocolate can go as high as 85% cocoa solids only ever consumed by avid dark chocolate fans, because of its bitter taste. If you’re just a beginner I recommend starting off with 70% dark chocolate and keep going up from there
4. Green Tea
This warm beverage is popular amongst many of us whether as a cleansing tea or just purely to hydrate ourselves. A comparison between green tea and black tea reflected higher levels of phenolics, particularly epigallocatechin (ECG) and flavonols in green tea. Test subjects who consumed green tea had a decreased risk of atherosclerosis compared to the latter5.
- Potterat, O, 2010, ‘Phytochemistry, pharmacology and safety in the perspective of traditional uses and recent popularity’, Planta Med, 76: pp 7-19
- Cheng C, Chung Y, Szeto Y, & Benzie F, 2005, ‘Fasting plasma zeaxanthin response to Fructus barbarum L.(wolfberry; Kei Tze) in a food-based human supplementation trial’, Br J Nutr, 93(1):pp. 123-130
- Wang B et al., 2010, ‘The Stability and antioxidant activity of anthocyanins from blueberry’, Food Technology & Biotechnology, 48 (1): pp. 42-49
- Serafini M et al., 2003, ‘Plasma antioxidants from chocolate’, Nature, 1013
- Rouanet J etal. , 2010, ‘Berry Juices, teas, antioxidants and the prevention of atherosclerosis in hamsters’, Food Chemistry, 118 (2): pp. 266-271