Food doesn’t have to taste bland or boring to be good for us. If you shop at your local market its likely you already know just how incredible fresh, local and seasonal ingredients can taste. Those ripe, juicy fruits and vibrant veggies are also chock full of nutritious benefits. And they’re not the only delicious tasting foods that are good for you but some are so packed with flavour you only need a small amount to give your meals a boost. They are of course herbs, spices and seasonings.

Your regular spice cabinet may also offer benefits beyond fantastic flavour. Regular Herbs and spices are quite exciting with super concentrated flavour and an amazing history that’s long been associated with good health for thousands of years. Even your everyday herbs such as basil, parsley, oregano, mint and rosemary contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, those beneficial plant compounds.

For super herb & spice flavour…

Black Pepper

It’s more than just salt’s best friend; black pepper improves your digestion, helps to prevent and relieve gas and has potent antibacterial properties. Its floral fragrance (amplified in black pepper essential oil) could possibly boost your mood, especially if you’re feeling sluggish or tired.

Ginger

Most likely the ginger root is no stranger to your plate, bowl or cup. It’s a versatile spice that’s treasured for its digestive benefits. It’s a lifesaver for those prone to upset tummies, like expectant mothers or the seasick travellers.

Mustard

Super capsaicin comes to the fore once again with its metabolic boosting and fat-burning qualities. Mustard is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables which are thought to have many health benefits. Other cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Chillies

Their health benefits are well documented but surprisingly little known, despite the many numerous and profound ways in which they are known to aid, relieve and prevent many conditions. The main component in chillies is a chemical called capsaicin, which is responsible for the intense heat felt.

Eating chillies can have a very positive impact on people. The exact way in which chillies act to reduce the need of insulin by this amount is not fully understood yet, but it certainly spells good news for people who have diabetes, as the effects produced by consuming a low amount of chilli are easy to achieve in everyday cooking.

Turmeric

Could be considered a wonder spice. It has been used for centuries as a spice in cooking and in traditional medicine to treat many ailments. Recently, science has started to back up what the Indians have known for a long time… it really does contain compounds with possible medicinal properties. These compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin, which has been possibly linked to anti-inflammatory properties and is a very useful antioxidant.

Cumin

Is considered to be extremely good for digestion and related problems. The very aroma of cumin, which comes from an aromatic organic compound called cuminaldehyde, the main component of its essential oil, activates our salivary glands in our mouth, which facilitates the primary digestion of food. Next is thymol, a compound present in cumin, which stimulates the glands that secrete acids, bile and enzymes responsible for complete digestion of the food in the stomach and the intestines. Due to its essential oils, magnesium and sodium content, cumin promotes digestion.

For that little extra bit of Super…

Goji Berries

Also called wolfberries, are native to China and are a bright orange-red berry packed full of antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. They contain all eight essential amino acids, up to 21 trace minerals, iron, polysaccharides, B vitamins, vitamin E, and many other nutrients.

Raw Cacao

Comes from the Theobroma cacao tree. Theobroma translates to “food of the gods.” Cacao originated in Mesoamerica and contains over 300 compounds. These include protein, fat, fibre, zinc, iron, calcium, copper magnesium, and sulphur. contains the most concentrated source of antioxidants found in any food. These antioxidants include oligomeric procyanidins, resveratrol, and the polyphenols catechin and epicatechin. It also contains vitamin C, tryptophan, omega-6 fatty acids, and phenylethylamine, which is a feel-good neurotransmitter.  For chocolate lovers, raw cacao is a no-brainer and could help to satisfy your chocolate obsession.

Maca

Is a root plant consumed as a food and for medicinal purposes that has been grown in the Andes for centuries. Maca has been used as a folk remedy to increase everything from stamina and energy to sexual function. Maca exceeds both carrots and potatoes as a source of iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iodine.

Coconut

A very versatile food – as coconut water, milk, oil, butter, or flesh. Coconuts are high in fibre and in saturated fat. In fact, the oil in a coconut is about 89 percent saturated medium chain fatty acids. The oil from the coconut has many good properties and is one of the highest natural sources of electrolytes of any food. Some of the nutrients it contains are magnesium, potassium, sodium, manganese, and calcium.

Spirulina

A micro-alga that has been cultivated and consumed by the indigenous people of Mexico and Africa for thousands of years. Spirulina is highly digestible and contains around seventy percent complete protein, which means it has all of the essential amino acids and ten non-essentials. Spirulina is also loaded with zeaxanthin and lutein.

Acai

Is a berry found in the Amazon rainforests. It has been traditionally used as a healing, energy-boosting, fruit for centuries. The acai berry has powerful antioxidant properties due to its high levels of anthocyanins. Possibly helping with digestion, and boosting energy. Acai berries contain the minerals potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and magnesium.

Chlorella

Is green algae that grows in freshwater ponds in the Far East have so far been limited to those in the know, and its progress to British medicine cabinets has been slow. Since it became available in tablet form in the UK three years ago, it has achieved an almost cultish appreciation as a superfood, but now scientific research could catapult it into the mainstream.

Almost a dream food. It is packed with protein – twice as much as spinach – and about 38 times the quantity of soybeans, and 55 times that of rice. It also contains nine essential amino acids, as well as vitamins and minerals.

Camu Camu

Is a berry that grows in the Andean swamps. It is loaded with vitamin C. In fact, it has more vitamin C than an orange. It is a rich source of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant flavonoids and also contains beta-carotene, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, thiamine, calcium, and iron. It also contains the boosting amino acid serine and the branch chain amino acid bodybuilders will know, Leucine.

Lucuma

The powder is made from the fruit of the pouteria lucuma tree, which is native to Peru, Chile, and Ecuador. Lucuma powder is made by drying the fruits at a low temperature and then gently grinding them up into an easy-to-use powder. Even though it has a sweet flavour, it’s quite low on the glycaemic index, making it a great natural sweetener. Lucuma is an excellent source of carbohydrates, fibre, and vitamins, especially B3. It is abundant in beta-carotene, niacin, and iron and has significant amounts of calcium and phosphorus.

Ginseng

Is a staple in Korean and Chinese cuisine, ginseng roots can be purchased at speciality supermarkets such as Asian grocers. It can be found in capsule form in health food shops. There are a number of different types of ginseng, especially for women is Siberian ginseng which is classed as an adaptogen, An adaptogen is something which works according to what your body needs. Ginseng provides energy when required, and could help combat stress and fatigue when you are under pressure.

Kelp (seaweed)

Is possibly the number one herb for supplementing iodine. And being that it is a natural source of iodine it is considered to be safer and better for the body than chemical synthetics. Superstars like vitamin C, iron and calcium are always in the news and well-known for their health benefits, while iodine has been essentially ignored. But we need iodine for efficient thyroid and pituitary function.

Kelp packed with other necessary nutrients such as iron, calcium and potassium. Since these are lost during monthly cycles, pregnancy, or lactation, women should especially take note of all the things that kelp has to offer.

Many people are avoiding sodium in their diets, and for good reason. Sodium is harmful in a variety of ways as but when salt first became available for seasoning food right at the table, manufacturers added iodine as a health benefit. For years kelp stayed hidden in the closet while people got their necessary iodine from table salt. But now that salt is being avoided, iodine is not as readily available and so kelp is becoming more and more favoured as a healthy source of iodine. Vegetarians, and especially vegans who are avoiding dairy and animal products should perhaps consider the benefits of taking kelp.

Bee pollen

Is a good nutritional source for drone bees. It has been described as “nature’s perfect food” and like honey is a highly-concentrated food source containing a complex supply of quality nutrients. A number of traditional Chinese herbal formulas contain bee pollen. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, and amino acids, and contains approximately 30% protein, 55% carbohydrate, 1% to 2% fat, and 3% minerals and trace vitamins. Vitamin C concentrations of 3.6% to 5.9% also have been found in some pollen samples. Promotional literature lists almost 100 vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and other compounds identified in bee pollen. The physiologic importance of many of these components is poorly understood. Bee pollen preparations often contain mixtures of pollens from diverse types of plants, and these pollens vary with the geographic origin of the material.

As with some other foods like peanuts, wheat and dairy Ingestion can produce allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Some suggest Bee pollen is not safe for pregnant women so a woman perhaps should also avoid using bee pollen if she is breastfeeding. If of course you are unsure about taking a honey bee related product its always best to check with your doctor or health care professional.

It’s worth noting that there is much conflicting information as to the use of bee pollen and many believe this to be a truly unique and amazing natural ingredient, widely known as a health food or like honey a culinary ingredient.  Chefs have been known to use it on desserts as a power packed sprinkle. It may be worth you spending a little time on research before deciding on whether you would like to try this interesting, wonder product of nature for yourself.

Rose hips

Probably the best source of vitamin C; they contain 50% more vitamin C than oranges. A single tablespoon of the pulp gives an adult more than the recommended daily allowance of 60 mg. They can be eaten raw, after being put through a blender, or soaked in water overnight and then cooked in the water for about half an hour. Because of the high vitamin C content, they are an excellent booster. The pulp from rose hips may be used in sauces or made into jelly. The fruit acids and pectin in rose hip tea is a mild diuretic and laxative. To make the tea simply pour a cup boiling water over a tablespoon of crushed, dried hips and let steep. After straining out any pieces of the hips you can add honey and drink.

Acerola

Is an unassuming shrub or small tree that bears a delicious cherry-like fruit, which is why you usually hear the term “acerola cherry”, rather than just acerola. Some other common names include Barbados cherry and West Indian myrtle, but the scientific designation of this tropical fruit is Malpighia emarginata. Native to Mexico, South America, and Central America, this fruit has been prized for thousands of years by various indigenous cultures; it is now widely exported throughout the world, and is also cultivated in certain parts of the Indian subcontinent, as well as southern areas of the United States.

In terms of culinary applications, acerola cherries have a distinct flavour, and are eaten in much the same way as regular cherries, although they aren’t related: either raw, or in baked goods, candies, ice creams, jellies, jams, and frozen juice concentrates. There is even some use of acerola in the production of certain alcohols. The real benefit, however, comes from the rich mixture of nutrients and vitamins contained in the fruit, in addition to a wealth of antioxidants and one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in any fruit.

Mangosteen

Known as the “Queen of Fruits”. The Mangosteen tree (Garcinia mangostana) is native to the tropical climates of South-East Asia. In Thailand, Burma (now Myanmar) and throughout Indonesia, the Mangosteen fruit has long been respected for its medicinal properties. Mangosteen rind powder consist of the Pericarp – which is the rind or peel and contains the highest level of Xanthones. Xanthones are natural plant chemical substances which demonstrate a list of pharmaceutical properties and are proving to be exceptional substances for good health. Although Xanthone is also found in some other tropical fruits, there are no other plants which contain more Xanthone than mangosteen.

Please note: We would love to instil the virtues of so many of the worlds natural and healthy food ingredients but unfortunately under UK and EU law Any food supplement ingredients must not be considered or used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. The information we provide on Superfoods relates to the nutrition and approximate known composition of fresh food ingredients and is for information purposes only.  We cannot make any health claims about the uses of these ingredients, but it may be worth you spending a little time on researching these and other interesting, wondrous products of nature for yourself.