Boost your Immune System with these Superfoods

Superfoods – Are they something we should pay attention to, or is the term yet another buzzword created by some very clever marketers? With COVID-19 going around the world at the moment and affecting people of all ages, can superfoods be something that will help protect you?

A quick Google search on the definition of “superfoods” says that a “superfood” is a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. These powerhouse foods are chock full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. All these amazing nutritional advantages makes these foods the superheroes of foods. 

Superfoods are said to offer the following benefits and more:

  • Overall health improvements
  • Boosted immune system
  • Improved efficiency and function within the body
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased serotonin production
  • Lowered cholesterol level
  • Improved metabolic function
  • Improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of heart disease
  • Weight loss
  • Increased energy levels
  • Reduced signs of ageing

Looking to delve into the big, bold world of superfoods to boost your immune system against COVID-19? It can get pretty complicated, because things seem to change so quickly! Is kale still cool? Or has it been dropped from the list of trendy superfoods faster than you can say “Pluto is not a real planet”?

TheFitLoco has got your back. We’ve shortlisted 13 superfoods that are easily accessible in Singapore, so you can add them to your diet now, and reap the benefits they bring to your immune system NOW! Most of the listed superfoods are also vegan, so no one gets left out.

1. Berries

Because berries contain high levels of flavonoids, which may lower the risk of heart diseases, these fruits are some of the most commonly known superfoods. 

Blueberries contain high levels of fibre, vitamin K, and manganese, while acai berries contain many antioxidants, and a stunning NINETEEN amino acids.

Goji berries have long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to boost vitality and longevity. They also contain multiple different types of flavonoids, and are high in vitamins A, C, and E. Goji berries are said to be able to lower high blood pressure, help with diabetes, and improve the functions of your kidneys, livers, and eyes. 

Packed with up to 12 times the amount of antioxidant blueberries have, goji berries may also protect against skin damage and prevent the growth of cancer cells. It is without a doubt, one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods out there.

Add berries to your salads or granola for a booster shot of nutrients! Fresh blueberries can be purchased all year round, while dried goji berries are easily found in the dried foods section and acai berries in the frozen section of most supermarkets.

2. Seeds and nuts

Seeds and nuts are massive powerhouses in tiny, compact packaging. These mighty foods fight inflammation, improve cardiovascular health, and even assist in weight loss! With a wide range of seeds and nuts to choose from, including a mix of these superfoods in your diet will boost your body’s levels of vitamin Bs and Es, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fibre, magnesium, and even phosphorous.

Everyone knows of the benefits of chia seeds. Chia seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, the plant form of omega-3 fats, which is said to have a significant impact on our cardiovascular health. Chia seeds have a nutty taste and add a crunchy texture to your meals. 

Loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids that can assist in reducing inflammation, improve brain function, and potentially prevent cancer and diabetes, flaxseed is an often overlooked superfood. They contain heaps of protein and fiber, and are also high in thiamine, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.

Seeds can be added to multigrain rice, making each meal more filling and packing the humble staple carb with more nutrients. A good mix would be black rice, red rice, brown rice, rolled oats, quinoa, chia seeds, flaxseed and sesame seeds.

Nuts are not only nutrient-dense, they are also incredibly high in protein, fibre, and other nutrients like magnesium, monounsaturated fat, Vitamin E, and iron. And thanks to their high fat and fibre content, they can also help with weight management. Just remember, a handful of nuts goes a long way!

Seeds and nuts can also be added to salads, smoothies, and your morning granola. They’re so versatile, they’re the perfect superfood to get started with!

3. Leafy greens

Leafy greens traditionally play a large part in the Southeast Asian diet. Our consumption of leafy greens is now validated, because they are a superfood!

Dark and leafy greens are rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. They also contain heaps of magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and carotenoids. Being high in water and fibre content, they also promote digestive tract heath, and keep your bowel movements regular.

These leafy superfoods include spinach, napa cabbage, watercress (mmm soup!), kailan, and yes, kale.

Feel free to include an abundance of these low-calorie green goodness in your diet, they can be tossed into salads, stir-fried, or boiled.

See some of our Nutritious Budget-friendly meal recipes here!

4. Avocado

Think avocado, and decadent brunches and the inability to purchase a house comes to mind. If you look past the cost and the damage it does to the millennial’s wallet, you’ll see that avocados contain a large amount of cholesterol-reducing monounsaturated fats, vitamin C and K, and of course, fibre. This powerhouse fruit also contains folate, more potassium than a banana, and really fills you up, which is great for weight loss.

We can’t resist this creamy fruit! The possibilities are endless. Spread it on toast, make guacamole, bake it with an egg, or add it to a salad to enjoy its benefits. Too lazy? Just slice it and eat it as is!

5. Sweet potatoes

In recent years, the humble sweet potato has been heralded as a more nutritional, healthier alternative to the regular potato. They are delicious and flavourful, and can be cooked in the same ways potatoes can.

So what makes the sweet potato different from normal potatoes?

This superfood is high in vitamins B6 and C, potassium, manganese, iron, magnesium and extremely high in vitamin A. Vitamin A is key in reducing inflammation, boosting your immune system, and maintaining a healthy vision.

Just cook them the way you’d usually cook normal potatoes, and enjoy the nutritional benefits!

6. Wheatgrass

Did you know that you can grow your own wheatgrass? Wheatgrass is actually the freshly sprouted leaves of the common wheat plant, and is known for being high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. 

Wheatgrass also contains chlorophyll, a plant pigment loaded with health benefits.

Add it to your daily juices or smoothies for an energy booster! Wheatgrass is also great for your pets.

7. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a commonly used spice in Chinese cooking, and it’s actually one of the standard ingredients of five spice powder! Yes, we’ve been consuming this superfood without even realising.

Cinnamon is high in antioxidants and is said to lower blood sugar and cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and even manage PMS symptoms.

Sprinkle cinnamon in your smoothies, overnight oats, or yogurt for a quick fix. Cinnamon can also be used to flavour meat dishes. Life hack: slice forgotten apples (we all have those languishing in the veggie chiller) in half, sprinkle cinnamon on top, and bake in the oven until mushy. It makes for a great snack to satisfy sugar cravings, or stirred into your overnight oats.

8. Turmeric

This bright yellow spice gives curries its beautifully vibrant colour, and it might just be what healthy eating advocates meant when they recommended “eating the rainbow”.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is linked to stabilising blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, and even preventing cancer growth. Pairing turmeric with black pepper has been shown to enhance curcumin absorption by a whopping 2000%!

For a quick way to boost curcumin consumption, turmeric is also available in capsule form. Turmeric is also great in scrambles, frittatas, roasted veggies, smoothies, and rice. 

9. Grapefruit

Grapefruit may not be everyone’s preferred citrus fruit, but it’s loaded with important nutrients! One serve is packed with heaps of fibre, and vitamins A and C. Orange you going to give it a go?

In fact, some studies have shown that adding grapefruit to your diet helps in weight loss, and improving insulin sensitivity. It may also improve cardiovascular health and increase liver function.

Still intimidated by grapefruit’s intense flavours? Start by introducing it into your salads or smoothies! It adds a tangy burst of citrus flavour, which is refreshing on a hot day. Once you get used to it, you can work your way up to eating the fruit on its own. You might actually grow to love it, we know we do!

10. Mushrooms

Back when not much was known about mushrooms, people steered clear of these fungi because they were afraid of getting mistakenly poisoned. We know better now.

Mushrooms are a newish addition to the superfood group, but they have always been beneficial to our health! They’re one of the few naturally occurring sources of vitamin D, and boast of immune-boosting properties. They may also prevent cancer, and of course, they contribute to your daily fibre intake too. They are also full of potassium, iron, and vitamin Bs, while having almost no fat or cholesterol at all. 

Some mushrooms like reishi, shiitake, lion’s mane, and cordyceps also contain adaptogenic-inducing properties, which is believed to help the body better adapt to stress.

Love your hotpots? Throw some mushrooms in there! Mushrooms are also great in stirfries, or simply grilled.

11. Kimchi

Kimchi is no stranger to Korean culture-loving Singaporeans. A traditional Korean food usually made with fermented cabbage, it can also include other veggies like radishes, onions, and cucumbers. It is not just yummy, it is also incredibly good for you!

Kimchi boasts admirable levels of vitamins A, B, and C, but its probiotic qualities are really why it’s a superfood. Probiotics are essential healthy bacteria that promote gut health, and kimchi is the perfect low-calorie way to get more into your system!

12. Tea 

This simple beverage originated from China, likely during the Shang Dynasty, as a medicinal drink. Today, tea is one of the most popular beverages transcending geographical boundaries.

Plain tea contains few calories if any, but a heap of antioxidants. Plus, it helps you stay hydrated. Different types of tea also offer different benefits.

Green tea is high in catechins, a potent antioxidant with anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. It may also prevent, or help with, arthritis because it suppresses overall inflammation. It contains caffeine, and makes for a great afternoon pick-me-up.

White tea contains the highest concentration of antioxidants because it’s the least processed tea. It also contains a variety of catechins including EGCG, which may help fight cancer. A recent study has also shown that white tea is effective in burning existing fat cells, and preventing the creation of new ones.

Black tea is usually stronger in flavour, with a higher content than other teas. Some studies have suggested that black tea lowers the “bad” low-density lipoprotein in the body, which results in better cardiovascular health in the long run. Because of its preparation process, black tea also contains antimicrobial properties which may be linked to improving gut bacteria.

13. Salmon

Salmon is a fatty fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to a reduction in cholesterol levels, and slowing the growth of fatty deposits on your arterial walls. Salmon is also extremely rich in vitamin D and selenium, which makes it a great superfood for omnivores and pescatarians.

Introducing salmon into your diet on a regular basis can decrease blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and prevent cell damage. Because of its selenium content, it also benefits your hair, skin, nails, and bones.

Salmon can be consumed in many different ways – raw, boiled, panfried, crumbed, baked, or grilled. It’s an incredibly yummy and versatile fish that can be easily worked into your current diet, and it offers a whole load of health benefits with it.

Starting on superfoods can be intimidating because there’s so much out there about the best foods to add into your diet, and it can be hard to sift through it all. We also understand that it can be especially tricky when most articles are catered to other countries and cultures, and kale is just so pricey here!

All these superfoods are readily available in Singapore, so the best place to start would be your local supermarket. Eating better does not have to be difficult, and with a few simple additions, you’ll be on your way to becoming a healthier you.

See more on Nutrition…

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