MANILA, Philippines – Spirulina. Wheatgrass. Goji berries. Chia seeds. Quinoa. Flax seeds. Health buffs are no stranger to these superfoods, and may even be incorporating these into their diets.
Superfoods, according to Health.com, are nutrient powerhouses that contain large amounts of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Having superfoods in your regular diet can reduce risk of chronic disease and prolong life.
While superfoods are undoubtedly super in terms of nutrients and healing potential many of the most well-known ones come from overseas, and usually fetch a steep price.
How about our country? Don’t we have our own superfoods, at prices that won’t burn holes in our pockets?
Below are some of our own superfoods:
This once taken-for-granted tree that grows abundantly in Philippine soil is now being rightly recognized as a nutritional powerhouse. Malunggay leaves have seven times the vitamin C in oranges, the fruit more readily associated with Vitamin C. It has 4 times the beta carotene in carrots, 4 times the calcium in milk, 3 times the potassium in bananas, and at least 3 times the iron in spinach (though some sources claim it can go as high as 25 times), 36 times the magnesium in eggs, and 50 times the vitamin B2 in bananas and the vitamin B3 in peanuts, respectively.
All parts of the tree actually have uses, earning it the moniker “miracle tree.” In fact, according to Indian traditional medicine, around 300 diseases can be cured or prevented using different parts of this tree. Studies particularly pinpoint its anti-cancer potential. Malunggay also helps against high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammations and more.
What also makes malunggay nutritious is its phytoalexins, defensive substances that make plants fight against pathogens and thrive in the wild, says agricultural engineer Dr. Narciso Ragas. In general, plants with phytoalexins are more nutritious than those with none – the latter are the ones that usually need pesticides.
This underrated fruit is actually the fruit richest in Vitamin C, with a single serving giving as much as 250 percent of your recommended daily allowance (RDA). In fact, it has 4 to 10 times the amount of Vitamin C in oranges. Pink guavas in particular have twice the lycopene of tomatoes.
It’s not just the fruit – the leaves are pretty potent too. Studies show that guava leaves decrease blood sugar both in the short term and long term, making them ideal against diabetes. They regulate cholesterol levels too. Another study reveals that a guava leaf extract has the potential to cure gastric cancer.
And that’s just naming a fraction of the benefits.
Here is more on both the leaves and the fruit:
Toge (Mung bean sprouts)
Sprouts are one of the most complete and nutritious foods, chock full of complex carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes, essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Seeds, when sprouted, double and sometimes even reach up to 500 times their nutritional value. This is said to be the plant stage where the plant is most concentrated in nutrients.
Sprouts are especially one of the foods richest in enzymes, which function as catalysts of body functions like digestion and breathing. They are essential to the body, as without enzymes, life processes will cease, or can take billions of years, according to biochemistry & biophysics professor Dr. Richard Wolfenden.
Toge is common sprout here in the Philippines, the sprouts from mung (or munggo) beans. Just eat them raw – include them in your salad or make them a topping in your meals, as cooking can destroy the enzymes.
The Philippines, as a tropical country, is abundantly blessed with coconuts.
Coconut water is one of the drinks highest in electrolytes, way better than sugary sports drinks and energy drinks. Its molecular structure is identical to blood plasma; drinking it is like receiving a blood transfusion. Coconut water is also good for high blood pressure – a study shows subjects with significantly reduced blood pressure after drinking it.
Coconut oil, meanwhile, is a source of good fat and cholesterol. It has medium-chain fatty acids, better digested by the body than other saturated fats, such as in meat and butter. Its oil is also antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and immune system-boosting.
Like the malunggay, each part of the coconut tree has its uses, earning the coconut’s name “tree of life.”
Here are more nutritional benefits of coconuts:
This common household spice is high in vitamins and minerals, with 100 grams giving you 95% of your RDA’s Vitamin B6, and 73% of the required manganese. Studies say that Allicin, the compound in garlic that gives its strong scent, reduces cholesterol and blood vessel stiffness.
Studies also say that garlic as a whole lowers the risk for colorectal, gastric, and prostate cancer. Garlic is also one of the most powerful antibiotics. Before considering antibiotics from the pharmacy, you might want to try garlic first.
Ragas recommends buying native garlic instead of imported garlic, as the former is more potent in nutrients.
So, are you incorporating these superfoods in your diet yet? Try it now. – Rappler.com
Almost all of these superfoods can be found at a cheap price at your local supermarket or wet market. If you want to avoid the hassles of grocery shopping like getting dressed or fueling up your car, you can do your shopping online and get great discounts here.