What's so super about superfoods?
In an ideal world, the food we eat would be organically grown, the vegetables would be freshly picked, the water would be spring-pure and the air we breathe mountain fresh. But, for those of us who live in the real world, this is not so.
However, just introducing certain superfoods into your diet can make a huge difference to your health and well-being.
Barbara Griggs, co-author of Superfoods, Superfast, explains that these superfoods are "the vital bricks that build your body's resistance to stress, disease, and infection". So, instead vitamin pills and capsules, try adding a few superfoods to your diet.
Beer is one of the best nutritional sources of silicon, which is essential for bones. As little as half a pint a day could help to prevent osteoporosis, which causes over 200 000 fractures every year - mostly in women. A lunch of a cheese sandwich and a pint of beer can work wonders for our bones. Beer is also rich in Vitamins B6 and B12 and folic acid, which many women lack in their diets.
People have always understood that food and drink can have deep effects on our emotional states. "Primitive tribes had no man-made drugs," explains Griggs. "They chewed cocoa leaf to obtain states of euphoria." Today, chocolate can still alleviate stress. It contains theobromine, which triggers the release of endorphins. These chemicals also kindle feelings of romance, love, and arousal.
Fatigue might have a psychological or a physical cause - often both. One superfood that can keep energy levels steady is coffee. Coffee is known for containing caffeine, but caffeine does have a positive side. It stimulates the brain, aids concentration and fights fatigue. However, caffeine can be addictive, so limit your coffee intake.
Yoghurt is a valuable food for your digestive system.
When the natural balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut is upset, it can lead to wind and constipation.
Blocked bowels lead to poor absorption of the vitamins and minerals from our foods into the bloodstream, so it is vital to keep our bowels healthy. Yoghurt's lactic acids aid digestion and have properties that can stop a budding infection, such as E coli.
Red wine is known to protect against heart disease.
French research shows that men who drink moderate amounts of red wine regularly have a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes than either men who drink heavily or those who abstain from alcohol completely, perhaps due to the natural antioxidants that red grapes contain.
The great Swedish botanist Linnaeus recommended strawberries as a perfect cure for arthritis, gout and rheumatism.
He cured himself of gout by eating almost nothing but strawberries morning and night.
These sweet fruits are effective cleansers and purifiers of the whole system.
People with skin problems should enjoy plenty.
"For full effect, strawberries should be eaten on their own or at the start of a meal," advises Griggs.
Too many young women avoid dairy products in the pursuit of thinness, because they tend to contain some fat.
But dairy products such as butter are a necessary part of our diet. After many years of advice that margarine is better than butter, the tide has turned.
Used moderately, butter is healthier than most margarines, which often contain artery-damaging trans-fats - and it's delicious.
It is a great source of Vitamin A, which is vital to the general appearance of the skin, and contains Vitamins D and E.
Every slimmer thinks luscious avocados are a high-fat, high-calorie treat.
But, when ripe, they are also an almost complete food, supplying lots of potassium, Vitamins A and E, some B and C vitamins, and a little protein.
Women, in particular, who are often warned about avocados as being extra-high in fat and calories should eat plenty of this fruit for the sake of their skin. Together with heart-protective monounsaturated oil and the other nutrients they contain, they neutralise damaging free radicals, making them good for anti-ageing.
Ancient societies used honey for energy, sweetening and as a preservative.
Nowadays, it is a natural remedy for stress and fatigue, and milk and honey is a popular cure for insomnia. Honey is also effective in curing coughs, stomach ache and indigestion, and can be used for external injuries.
New Zealand Manuka honey is now widely used in hospitals as a sterile dressing for plastic surgery wounds and severe ulceration. It kills most bacteria, including the dreaded MRSA.
Far from being a food to avoid, pasta provides complex carbohydrates for slow-release energy.
Wholemeal varieties might contain more fibre, minerals, and B vitamins, but both white and wholemeal types are healthy. Pasta itself won't make you fat - it's what you put on it that makes the difference. Just avoid any sauces that are high in fat. A simple mixture of olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs is a satisfying, delicious meal that is good for your waistline.