Journal/Features

The West Country “superfoods” taking on the imports

by Crumbs

12 July 2017

Nutritional therapist Milda explorers the benefits of local 'superfoods'

Not all superfoods come in expensive packaging from far away lands. There are many forgotten seasonal ‘superfoods’ right here in the West Country, that give us considerably more nutrition and don’t break the bank.

It seems that ‘superfood’ has become a term used freely around the foods that are nutritionally beneficial to our health and gives a perceived boost in vitality. It’s hard to argue that bright green, purple or yellow powders, and foods instantly makes us feel like we are nourishing the body and ‘doing some good’.

There is no doubt that the likes of spirulina, goji berries, and exotic fruits have benefits for our health, as they are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients. However, the downside to importing goods from halfway across the world has effects on carbon footprint and local trade. Moreover, some vitamins such as vitamin C, do not last well throughout extended periods of time and temperature fluctuations, meaning that you are getting so much less of it than you may think.

The benefits of local, seasonal and organic foods have long been recognised by the country’s finest chefs. These foods not only taste better but also contain more nutrition than imported ‘superfoods’ might. Still not sure if nettle will give you the health boost that an exotic import will? Check out which ‘superfoods’ of the South West you can get in your local farmer's market or forage today.

A post shared by Enjoy Asparagus (@enjoyasparagus) on Jun 15, 2017 at 10:04am PDT

Papaya vs. Asparagus

Synonymous with tropical climates and exotic beach holidays, papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C when fresh and contains a digestive enzyme papain, which would work miracles to support digestion for meat eaters. Sadly, due to the complexities of human digestion our bodies are not always able to use it. Moreover, papaya often travels to the UK from afar and the amount of vitamin C with have waned substantially.

Luckily, the amazing West Country asparagus abundantly contains one of the most potent antioxidants glutathione, which boosts energy levels and supports anti-aging. Asparagus is filled with fibre and prebiotics, that feed the ‘good guys’ of digestive bacteria.

Did you know it is also great for a hangover? Get ready to open the festival season with asparagus and poached egg brunch the morning after.

A post shared by mattdixon77 (@mattdixon77) on Aug 8, 2017 at 4:23am PDT

Acai berry vs. Blackcurrant

Acai powder and acai bowls are bloggers’ breakfast go-to superfood choices if you look at Instagram. Dark, flavoursome and exotic, acai berries are said to have the highest antioxidant ranking in the world, making it a fantastic choice for boosting energy and vitality. But is there really an alternative in the South West for such a powerful Amazonian treasure food? Yes, there is, it’s blackcurrant!

Don’t be fooled by blackcurrant’s sour and astringent taste, often the most powerful medicine can taste the harshest. Blackcurrants contain an extremely high number of antioxidants, vitamins and have anti-inflammatory properties. Blackcurrant season is fast approaching (July- August), so try adding some blackcurrants into your smoothie to fight post-exercise muscle pains and support glamorous ageing.

Spirulina vs. Nettle

Spirulina has become the staple ‘superfood’ to any modern green smoothie. Boasted to have numerous benefits it is indeed helpful in removing toxins, purifying blood and improving digestion. Packed with vitamins and minerals such as iron and B12, however don’t solely count on it as the only source, as not all of these nutrients are bioavailable to humans.

Turn to the fields and forests (or the back garden) to find a local alternative, stinging nettle, that is well known for its detox qualities and is jam packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Feeling hesitant that nettle will give you similar benefits? Try having a tablespoon of freshly squeezed nettle juice in the morning for 3 weeks and watch energy levels skyrocket!

A post shared by Charlotte Bonnett (@charlottebonnettfoodie) on Jul 16, 2017 at 12:42pm PDT

Goji berry vs. Strawberry

Goji berries have very similar perceived benefits to strawberry, such as heart support, anti-ageing and high number of vitamins, however these claims are still lacking clear evidence. Have in mind that goji travels a long way and preservatives and additives can overshadow the benefits. As a rule of thumb, choose fresh, local and seasonal produce over packaged goods and embrace the numerous health benefits it brings.

Nothing says ‘summer is here’ like the farmers’ market stalls brimming with fragrant strawberries. Heart-shaped strawberries are giving out a subtle hint that in fact, they are excellent for heart health, by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Only 1 cup of strawberries fulfills daily requirement for vitamin C and is jam-packed with other nutrients that support glowing skin and eagle eyesight.

Nutritional therapist Milda from Nutrition Path, practices in Bath & Bristol. Visit www.nutritionpath.co.uk/ for a 15% discount on your initial consultation quoting ‘Crumbs’.

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