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You've probably heard of superfoods and aloe vera, chia, oats, avocados... more and more are being categorised as such by dieticians and other nutrition professionals. Why are they so important? Is it a fad, pure marketing or something that we should take into account for our health? We're going to tell you about superfoods, explain what they are and why we're so proud that aloe vera is one of them.
What are superfoods?
According to the European Food Information Council, superfoods are those with a high nutritional density. In other words, they have a lot of healthy nutrients in very little food. In addition, they must also have a large number of different nutrients. In other words, it is a food that our grandparents would say: "you could survive just by eating this". Do you see that superfoods have been around forever? Only now they have been given a name and importance. Here's why.
Benefits of superfoods
These foods have advantages for everyone.
You don't need to eat much more
It is true that it is important to have a varied and balanced diet. Especially since no superfood has all the nutrients. But if you take superfoods you won't have to worry so much about taking supplements, the minimum recommended daily intake of dairy products, the minimum number of pieces of fruit, etc. But, as we said, it all depends on the superfood you take. For example, if you eat oatmeal every day, you'll have plenty of B vitamins in your diet, so you won't need to eat as much bread, rice or other foods with B vitamins.
It helps if you are on a diet
Eating foods with a higher concentration of nutrients means you get the benefits of the food, but not as many calories. Many superfoods are high in calories, such as avocado or nuts, but their fats are healthy, they are satiating and eating small amounts is enough. And then keep in mind that there are low-calorie superfoods, such as açaí, broccoli or aloe vera. But, we repeat, don't just take one of them and include in your diet foods with the nutrients they don't have.
Good for digestion
Incidentally, all these foods are digestible (except if the person has an intolerance, such as the superfood spelt for coeliacs), because they usually provide fibre and some also probiotics. Fibre helps the peristaltic movements that activate digestion and also feeds the bacterial flora, which in turn is reinforced by probiotics. These "good" bacteria are responsible for many processes in our body, not only digestion, but also metabolism, the immune system and even our mood.
They have anti-inflammatory properties
This is another of the coincidences that most of them have. Even some, such as ginger, do not have many other nutrients (such as proteins), but its anti-inflammatory power is so great that it is not necessary to take a large amount and it has other medicinal properties. Something similar happens with aloe vera, an anti-inflammatory both taken orally and applied to the skin. This property means that it acts against all types of inflammation, from bruises to those caused by infections or arthritis.
They are antioxidants
Because there are many antioxidant vitamins (such as A, B3, C or E) as well as other chemicals, such as tannins, many of these foods prevent oxidation by free radicals. This means that they slow down the effects of cellular ageing. Not only does it mean that it will help prevent wrinkles, but it will make your muscles work better for longer, your hair stays in good condition, you feel more vital, and so on. The superfoods most representative of this property are matcha tea, dark chocolate (better from 70% cocoa), reishi mushrooms, aloe vera and açaí.
They are revitalising
It is one of the qualities we look for most in food. After all, one of the main purposes of food is to give us energy, which is why we tend to like calorie-dense foods. But the important thing is that you can harness that energy, and there are nutrients with that capacity. Many vitamins, especially the B vitamins, serve to facilitate the conversion of carbohydrates, proteins or fats into energy. Combined with certain minerals such as iodine and protein, they have a vitalising effect, which also means that you avoid storing energy in the form of fat. Examples of these foods are spirulina, black garlic or oats.
Aloe vera - a superfood
You have probably already heard about the medicinal properties of aloe vera, as well as its benefits as an ingredient in cosmetics. But did you know that aloe vera as a superfood has some very interesting qualities?
- It has a high nutritional quality: it is rich in B vitamins (especially folic acid), vitamin C and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, iron and copper.
- Its fibre has a protective effect on the intestine and prevents constipation.
- It is anti-inflammatory.
- It is alkalising: it is one of the few superfoods with this "superpower". It not only prevents acidity in the digestive tract, but also in the body in general. Thus, it manages to avoid the effects of uric acid from the consumption of simple sugars, etc.
How to take aloe vera?
You've probably never considered eating this green superfood before. But did you know that many chefs have already included them in their recipes?
It could be eaten directly, removing the outer rind. However, it has no flavour and its gelatinous and slightly "slimy" texture is not pleasant. Try the following:
- Cut the pulp into small pieces and add to yoghurt, breakfast cereals, etc.
- Blend the pulp to make smoothies with fruits, it will give them an extraordinary consistency!
- Similarly, you can grind aloe vera pulp into smoothies.
- As it has a neutral flavour, it is perfect for soups and vegetable creams.
We encourage you to try recipes with more superfoods and aloe vera. Your kitchen will be more functional, you will be aware of what you eat and the big prize will be your health and wellbeing.