Craig's Top 10 Superfoods

December 1, 2017

 I've first hand heard all of this in the last week at FFS Nutrition. "I heard this berry from the Amazon is what the Rock takes everyday, is it a Superfood ? "Black pudding is basically Irish caviar surely the protein in it makes it a superfood?" "This new energy drink has traces of "gangeriataun" a "known proven superfood, an undiscovered source of energy that can boost performance by 150%!" Is it any good, Craig?" 

Superfoods are generally considered as nutrient rich food that are beneficial for health and well being. My classification for superfoods are a food that gives me the most bang for my buck! Foods that build lean muscle. Foods that boost and enhances my performance. Foods that repair and refuel my body to keep going. When I call a food "Super" it has to tick all those boxes! That's a lot of demands on a piece of meat or green leaf but that's what elevates them up into the super stratosphere. Here's my top 10 superfoods born out of experience, taste, the mirror and my energy in the gym.  This list is also shaped by convenience, availability and practicality..... no Peruvian Poke bowls here!

 

 

Spinach

 

The creamy texture and versatility of spinach means it goes straight onto my top 10. Green leafy veg is pound for pound a nutrient juggernaut! I literally feel better after eating spinach. Maybe it's because I know how great it is or more likely its because it really is doing great things. Disclaimer: I still haven't got Popeye style forearms. Raw uncooked spinach is better than cooked. It can be added to almost any meal and usually comes pre-prepared and ready to eat. Excellent in smoothies, with any egg variation, base for salads and as a vegetable accompaniment to any lean protein.

 

Spinach has been proven to: 

 

  • Strengthen Muscles

  • Improve Eyesight 

  • Maintain healthy blood pressure

  • Strengthen bones

  • Increases basal metabolism

  • Protects skin

  • Reduces inflammation 

Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814607011910 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Range Eggs

 

The most versatile protein source around. Scrambled, poached, baked, fried, as a mixing agents in cakes, pancakes, omelettes etc. There is so much goodness in those little shells and they are a staple in many of my dishes. They can be had as the main protein source in any meal breakfast, lunch, dinner or desert. If I only have access to one source of protein for the rest of my life I would go with the humble egg.  Go free range. Regardless of the ethics they are fed a more nutrient rich diet and the lifestyle is conducive to better produced healthier eggs than caged.

 

Free Range Eggs:

  • Promote lean muscle growth

  • Satiety- makes you feel fuller for longer

  • Healthy eyes and nails

  • Stengthen bones

  • Provide a large range of vitamins ,especially vitamin B complex

  • Source of protein that the body assimilates really well. Combo of amnio acids 

Source: https://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/10-health-benefits-of-eggs.html

 

 

Walnuts

 

These funny looking crinkly healthy fats are a cracking addition to any diet. A big theme on most of my top 10 is versatility. These bad boys are culinary chameleons. They can go as a sprinkle on salads, dusting on a protein source, crushed on top of pancakes or as a snack on their own for on the go.

Walnuts are proven to;

  • Reduce inflammation

  • Boost Mood

  • Promote a health heart

  • Enrich gut health

  • Contribute towards a balanced fat intake (healthy fats)

     

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17125535

 

 

 

Lean Steak Mince (less than 5% Fat)

 

Lean red meat tastes fantastic. Steaks and all the delicious cuts are the highlight on many people plates. The reddish/pink hew of a rare steak is a eye candy. Lean Steak mince gets the best of both worlds. The malleability and convenience of lean steak mince means that you can put high grade protein twists on all your favourites. Love burgers, make your own. They will taste better, be better and get you better results. My Chilli Con Carnage has been a big pot staple dish of mine for the last year and the you get a high yield from a lean protein source such as Lean Steak Mince. Burritos, tacos, goulash, shepherds pie etc. Ask your butcher if your not sure but if you can see someone actually put a single piece of meat through the grinder you are on to a winner. Sirloin Mince, Rib-eye Mince,  Lean Mince, Steak Mince are common names for lean mince. As for the fat content aim for single digits. It is more expensive that standard mince but there's a reason and if you see what goes into standard mince you will know why you are paying more!

Lean Steak Mince;

 

  • Helps increase muscle mass

  • Boost immune system

  • Increases fat loss

  • High Satiety value (leaves you feeling fuller for longer) 

  • Rich in Iron & Vitamin B complex

Source WMD, Dr Chris Kresser https://chriskresser.com

 

 

 

 

 

Wholegrain Oats

 

Oats are a smart carb in every sense of the word. They provide sustained slow realise energy, leaving you feeling full and satisfied and are truly versatile. They are also a great substitute if you've been hooked on breakfast cereals since you were a kid. As porridge, overnight oats, pancakes,pies, snacks, shakes or as the crispy finger licking good coating on FFS KFC (Kilkenny Fire Chicken) Oats are a smart carbohydrate , that has a long shelf life, is readily available and are cheap. Go wholegrain, large coarser cut the better. Not Readybreak! You want to see Wholegrain Oats as 100% of the ingredients and nothing else. 

 

Wholegrain Oats:

  • High in Fibre

  • Lower Cholesterol

  • Aid fat loss

  • Boost heart health

  • Protein rich (even though its mostly carbs)

  • Boost Immune system

  • Energy for brain and body slow realised and sustained throughout the day

Source: https://legionathletics.com/health-benefits-of-oats/benefits

 

 

 

 

 

Tomatoes 

 

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad" ... Brian O'Driscoll . Drico is right but in all but name it's displays all the characteristics of a great vegetable. The tomato is another versatile item on the list. I love omelettes, Italian food, Mexican food, salads and wraps. The tomato can feature as a little red powerhouse in all of them. They are relatively cheap come in many variations from the Buffalo to the cherry and can be had at any meal from breakfast to dinner. 

 

Tomatoes;

  • High in Antioxidants

  • Make you process healthy fats more efficiently 

  • Fibrous and mostly water (nutrient dense leave you felling fuller, low caloric impact) 

  • High in lycopene which can be a prevent measure in many cancers and heart disases.

  • Great source of Vitamin C

  • Aid in maintaining healthy teeth, bones, hair, and skin

Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek Yogurt

 

Sweet creamy tub of good gut bacteria. Might not sound that appealing but this white gold is the Swiss army knife of kitchen condiments. The vanguard of versatility as a base for sauces, protein deserts, as a condiment and as a simple protein supplement to dishes.  We use it at FFS Nutrition in a lot of our dishes from curry to pancakes.

 

Greek Yogurt :

Source of calcium 

Source of potassium

Source of protein 

Source of zinc and vitamins B6 and B12 

Contains probiotic cultures and is lower in lactose and generally has twice the protein content of regular yogurts.

 

Source: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/best-foods-you-are-not-eating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Coffee

 

Black as midnight on a moonless night! That's the way I like it and that's the way it is intent to be. Full disclosure I only started drinking coffee regularly in the last couple of years and I am a massive convert. My palate may not be Seattle sophisticated but I can tell what I like and I can tell the difference in aroma, taste and texture between low and high quality beans. In a world packed full or "pre-workout" powders and pills, energy drinks and "mutant rage fire" fuel etc. The key performance component is often caffeine and then a whole load of other "fillers" which often just mean "sugar" in many different forms. Caffeine is a proven performance booster and excellent as a pre-workout supplement. In the form of black coffee you get that plus a whole lot of other great things. Go for good quality coffee, aim for beans from around the equatorial line as the humid levels are perfect and always go black!

 

Coffee:

  • Coffee contains a massive amount of antioxidants

  • Caffeine can increase adrenaline levels and release fatty acids from the fat tissues. It also leads to significant improvements in physical performance.

  • Coffee contains several important nutrients, including Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Niacin.

  • Several studies show that coffee drinkers live longer and have a lower risk of premature death. Along with lower incidences of cancers, heart disease, dementia, depression . 

     

     

 

Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee

 

 

Protein Powder

 

Whole foods come first. Balanced, prepared meals with always be the first port of call. Protein powder are an excellent way to supplement the protein content (increase it) with certain meals at certain times. Particularly when time, convenience and availability are all factors. In shakes, with breakfast, deserts and  in smoothies. When you are on the road, travelling, hotels, etc. Protein is often the most expensive item on a menu and often where meals fall massively shy on with take away, deliveries, convenience stores, delis etc. Having the ability to supplement these meals with a protein source that meets your needs is a very convenient tool. Personally I've travelled, been at work meetings, hotels etc where everything is heavily tipped toward processed carbs and protein supplements have been an excellent tool in my arsenal. Remember like everything quality is key. Ireland has arguably one of the best dairy industries in the world. If you are going whey protein. You want  to know the source and where it's coming from and if your happy on the quality of the animal producing it and the lifestyle they have lived then go for it. Remember it's a supplement not a replacement for a good diet. Having a shake instead of steak will not get you in shape quicker it will do the opposite in the long run.  

 

Protein will:

  • Helps increase muscle mass

  • Rebuild your body and repair your muscle after 

  • Boost immune system

  • Increases fat loss

  • High Satiety value (leaves you feeling fuller for longer) 

Protein Powder:

  • Will provide all those above as a stop gap in the absence of a whole protein source or as a supplement to increase your protein intake.

  • Convenient and easy transportable for on the road, work, after training, lack of access to protein sources. eg. in transit, foreign environments, poor food purchasing options

  • Easy to add to many meals to boost up the protein value 

 

 

 

 

Bananas

 

Packaged by nature, sweetened by the sun and packed full of golden energy. Cheap, versatile and tasty this is a powerhouse of a fruit that you can pretty much eat from your first meal to your last because of it's soft mushy nature and as it's an excellent source of nourishment for the body.  Aside from being very nutritious, they are also a highly convenient snack food.

Bananas:

  • Bananas may help relieve muscle cramps caused by exercise. 

  • Bananas are rich in fiber, antioxidants and several nutrients.

  • Bananas are a good dietary source of potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that are essential for heart health.

  • Bananas contain nutrients that can help moderate blood sugar levels after meals. They may also reduce appetite by slowing stomach emptying.

  • Eating a banana several times a week may reduce the risk of kidney disease by up to 50%.

 

 

Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-bananas

 

 

What is Super for YOU  ?

 

This is my TOP 10 Superfoods. I'm sure you will have your own version. Have a think and make up your own list! Then make sure they are the first thing you put in your shopping basket the next time you do your own shop!

 

I know when I have these Superfood staples in my cupboard and fridge that I have a solid tool box to help me tackle any of my nutritional challenges during the week. I know the great things these foods do for my mind and my body and I know how great they make feel. If you are serious about making changes to your body, performance and health you need to find what works best for you and you need to surround yourself with it. This way you are onto a winner every-time and you will be feeling super much sooner than later!

 

If you would like more tips on how to enjoy what you are eating and get the body you want check out FFS Nutriton . For training tips check out Craig FFS and for unbelievably tasty recipes and cooking ideas check out FFS Recipes

 

 

Craig is head of FFS Nutrition, Head of Bodyweight & Suspension Training, S&C Coach & PT at Fitter Faster Stronger. He is passionate about all things food and training realted and how to marry the two together to get the most out of people in the most fun and enjoyable way. For further info contact Craig at craig@ffs.ie  or at videos

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