Optimal health and performance can be achieved through a balanced and nutritious diet, along with regular physical activity.
These five foods are what I call superfoods, and I’ll explain why. Include them in your diet as staples and your health will dramatically improve.
The American Heart Association recommends eating two to 3 servings of fatty fish a week. This is not limited to salmon only and includes other fatty fish such as Mackerel and Black Cod. Yes you read that right, Black Cod is incredibly high in Omega 3.
What are the main Omega 3 benefits?
Omega 3 can significantly reduce levels of triglycerides in the blood (see this study for some evidence) and raise the good cholesterol levels – the so-called HDL (scientific study), as well as lower the bad cholesterol – known as LDL (I have a study for that too!)
This combination of benefits dramatically reduces your risk of heart disease.
Omega 3 is also known for reducing systemic inflammation, which leads to many diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
In addition to eating 3 portions of fatty fish per week, I suggest also supplementing Omega 3 in the form of fish oils. The best product is Oh-mega Pharma Pro from Trained By JP.
It’s free from any heavy metals and it’s in triglyceride form, which is much more bioavailable than its ethyl ester form, that most companies use.
It contains 4g of EPA/DHA in total, which is the dose that gives you the most powerful health benefits.
Most people today consume too many omega-6s vs omega-3s.
Studies show that this can increase inflammation and may play a role in the increasing risk of certain chronic conditions, such as heart disease.
I prefer to eat wild salmon instead of farmed, as farmed contains a much higher ratio of Omega 6 fats.
Farmed salmon has also more heavy metal contaminants such as mercury and cadmium, but it still contains very little when compared with other fish such as Tuna.
If you’re having farmed salmon twice a week, the heavy metals will not cause any harm to your health, and it contains enough Omega-3 to increase DHA blood levels by 50%
If you have the budget, then have wild salmon twice a week. If not, having farmed salmon will still drastically improve your health.
Cruciferous vegetables contain Sulforaphane, which is the most powerful naturally occurring activator of the pathway NRF2. Sulforaphane regulates many different genes including antioxidants, anti-inflammatory genes and genes that inactivate harmful compounds.
Cruciferous vegetables are strongly associated with lowered cardiovascular disease mortality. Those in the top 20% of the population of cruciferous vegetable intake saw a 22% reduction in all-cause mortality (see this study).
Men who consumed 3-5 servings of vegetables a week saw a 40% decrease in prostate cancer risk compared to men who had less than one serving a week (a study on this topic).
Even smokers who consumed at least 4 servings of cruciferous vegetables a month saw a 55% reduction in lung cancer risk (see study here, but bear in mind that I don’t advocate smoking!)
To maximise the intake of Sulforaphane from your food, steam your vegetables for 3 to 4 minutes.
This is because steaming deactivates the epithiospecifer protein which stops the formation of sulforaphane, but does not inactivate myrosinase enzyme in the way boiling does.
By doing this, you can increase the amount of sulforaphane by 3-fold and do not damage the myrosinase, which is the enzyme that converts Glucoraphanin in cruciferous vegetables to the active compound sulforaphane.
When eating cooked broccoli, it was found that adding 1 gram of mustard seed increased the bioavailability of sulforaphane by 4-fold compared to eating broccoli on its own (a study you might want to read).
I recommend getting at least 1 portion of cruciferous vegetables a day.
Grass Fed Beef
Beef is an incredibly high-quality source of protein. Its biological value is very high, which means per gram of protein, a large quantity is used for creating new muscle tissue in your body.
It’s a rich source of haem iron, which is the most bioavailable source of iron. It is 35% more bioavailable than non-haem iron. Haem iron is found in animal sources and non-haem in plant sources.
Both grain and grass-fed beef are rich in nutrients.
Beef is full of vitamins B12, B3, and B6. It’s also rich in highly bioavailable selenium and zinc.
It’s also high in creatine, which improves strength and endurance.
Most people don’t know this, but beef fat is 50% monounsaturated fat, the same fat as in olive oil and nuts, not just saturated fat.
This is why grass-fed beef is healthier. It contains a much larger quantity (6 times more) of Omega-3 fatty acids and grain fed beef contains much higher amounts of pro-inflammatory Omega 6.
As discussed above, a high ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 can cause chronic inflammation and disease.
Liver is probably the most nutrient-dense food on Earth. It’s a whole-food multivitamin. People are obsessed with fruit and vegetables’ nutrient content, but the liver is far superior.
In only 100g of liver, you can find the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B12 3460% of the RDI
- Vitamin A 1000% of the RDI
- Riboflavin (B2) 250% of the RDI
- Folate (B9) 65% of the RDI
- Iron 80% of the RDI
- Copper 1620% of the RDI
- Choline – there is no RDI, but it’s full of this nutrient, which is vital for brain health.
People used to be concerned that the liver is high in cholesterol. Studies have now shown that dietary cholesterol has very little impact on blood cholesterol in most of the population (the same goes for eating whole eggs.)
The liver is very high in vitamin A, which can accumulate in your body, unlike water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C.
I would suggest using Liver as a multivitamin with just 15g a day. Cook a whole batch, divide it into 15g portions and freeze to keep it fresh.
Grains are seeds that are highly defended by plants as they don’t want you to eat them so they can grow.
Grains (seeds) contain many defence chemicals that can cause problems with your digestion. They contain digestive inhibitors, phytic acid that prevents mineral absorption and lectins, which include gluten in wheat.
The lectins in grains ward off insects to stop them from being eaten. Lectins can cause bloating and abdominal pain.
White rice is milled, so it’s husk, bran and germ are completely removed. This means it does not contain any lectins or digestive enzyme inhibitors.
White rice is the perfect carbohydrate. It’s completely hypoallergenic and is one of the first foods babies are given when weaning, as it has such low toxicity.
It’s particularly good for athletes who need to consume a large volume of carbohydrates from carbs, so they will need a source of carbs that are easy to digest.
These 5 foods should be staples in your diet when looking to optimise performance and health.