Nourish Your Body Naturally with Functional Foods
Nourish Your Body Naturally with Functional Foods
If you’re a health-conscious eater or someone who simply cares about what you put in your body, you’ve probably come across the term “functional foods”. Of course, all foods are supposed to be “functional” in that they provide nutrients such as protein for muscle repair, carbohydrates for energy, or vitamins and minerals for cell function.
But let’s face it, food isn’t what it used to be. Modern agriculture and environmental pollution have robbed our soils of essential minerals and consequently, our plants are deficient in these nutrients, too. And while we can agree that eating a healthy, balanced diet should provide all the nutrients we need, the reality is most of us fail to eat even the bare minimum required fruit and vegetable servings. Hence, it makes perfect sense to supplement our diets with so-called “functional foods” – foods that provide additional health benefits that may reduce disease risk and/or promote good health.
Every day we see reports about the latest “superfood” that foodies are rediscovering. From kale to cacao, coconut to chia, the list goes on. So how can we get enough of these wonderful foods into our daily diet? It’s a dilemma the health industry is all too keen to solve for us by isolating and extracting key nutrients and concentrating them in pill or liquid form, or fortifying processed foods with synthetic vitamins and minerals. Seems like an easy way to boost our nutrient intake.
But by consuming only certain nutrients in isolation, we are missing out on all the extra nutrients naturally available within the whole food. Wholefood supplements are therefore the better option. Essentially, the vitamins found within these supplements are not isolated. They are highly complex structures that combine a variety of enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, trace elements, activators and many other unknown or undiscovered factors all working together synergistically, to enable this vitamin complex to do its job in our body.
Let’s take a look at some of these functional wholefoods that could do wonders for our health.
Containing more than 300 nutrients, the benefits of cacao are vast! This superfood tops the ORAC chart (a measure of antioxidant capacities in food) for common foods. It’s one of the best dietary sources of essential minerals (nutrients the body can’t produce) such as magnesium and iron and is rich in phenethylamine, anandamide and tryptophan, the so-called “bliss chemicals”. It’s no wonder cacao can leave you feeling great.
A true dietary fibre, psyllium is composed of 30 per cent insoluble and 70 per cent soluble fibres. It’s known to support normal blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels, while insoluble fibres are known to promote regularity.
Reputedly the highest plant-based source of complete protein, chia offers twice the amount of most grains. These tiny seeds are also packed with fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, rare antioxidants, minerals and calcium. They contain three times the antioxidants of blueberries, five times more calcium than milk, three times the iron in spinach and twice the amount of potassium found in bananas.
Coconut contains one of the healthiest fats – with lauric acid making up nearly half its fatty acid content. It’s the same type of saturated fat found in abundance in human breast milk. Once converted to monolaurin in the body, lauric acid has the benefit of fighting bacteria, yeast, and so-called enveloped viruses. Moreover, coconut fat is mostly made up of medium chain fatty acids, which are broken down and converted to energy as soon as absorbed by the body.
Maca (also known as Peruvian ginseng) is a nutrition powerhouse containing 60 per cent complex carbohydrates, nine per cent fibre and nearly 10 per cent protein. It’s rich in essential minerals (calcium, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, silica, sodium, zinc, manganese, copper and iron), vitamins (B1, B2, B12, C and E) and high in fatty acids omega-3 and omega-9. It is most commonly available as a dried powder, which can be added to smoothies, yoghurt and cereals.
Nuts are veritable storehouses of minerals, quality protein, emulsified oil and health-imparting vitamins. These high-energy foods are among the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin E, plant sterols and l-arginine – all of which are important in supporting a healthy heart. Almonds contain the most fibre and are the richest source of the powerful lipid-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E. Brazil nuts are renowned for being rich in selenium. Cashews are rich in iron and zinc, and are lower in fat than most other nuts.
Flaxseed contains high levels of dietary fibre (both soluble and insoluble) including lignans, which are powerful antioxidants. They are also packed with micronutrients and essential omega-3 fatty acids, plus an abundance of other nutrients and vitamins including calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E.
Pumpkin Seeds / Pepitas
Pumpkin seeds are a special source of the essential trace mineral zinc. Zinc has many important functions, including supporting tissue growth and repair and a healthy immune system. They have one of the highest levels of phytosterol antioxidants of all commonly found nuts and seeds, which help support healthy cholesterol levels.
Sunflower seeds contain an abundance of well-balanced nutrients – for instance, potassium is high while sodium is low, and calcium is balanced with magnesium and vitamin D for absorption. They’re also rich in fibre and protein and contain good quality polyunsaturated fats.
Thankfully, we can now enjoy the benefits of these functional foods in their real, organic form courtesy of Ceres Organics. Each product is made from whole foods – nothing added or taken away, just as Mother Nature intended.
The Importance of Choosing Organic
Knowing which foods can have a positive effect on your health is important, but it’s also important to choose the right product. Today’s supermarket shelves are full of products which seem to tick all the boxes of a healthy, natural food. Yet on closer inspection, they contain additives or have ingredients that have been grown using chemical fertilisers and sprays. To ensure that the products you get are truly in their natural form with optimum nutrition, it’s wise to choose a good certified organic brand.
For over 30 years, Ceres Organics has been New Zealand’s most trusted brand of certified organic food – wholesome, GE-free, and untainted by chemicals, harmful pesticides and herbicides, artificial ingredients and nasty additives. Each product is ethically sourced only from growers who have passed the stringent organic standards of growing, harvesting and processing. And as an assurance, each Ceres Organics product bears the BioGro mark, attesting to its certified organic status. The result is nutritionally intact, wholesome products offering the very best of nature’s goodness, and nothing else!