Miso, a fermented soy food, is so nutritious that it is considered a medicinal food.
'Superfood' is a catch-all term that really just refers to a nutritious ingredient packed with antioxidants and vitamins. 

We often think of exotic foods such as goji berries and baobab when the phrase comes to mind - but Renée Elliott, founder of organic supermarket, Planet Organic, says that some very ordinary ingredients can be just as 'super'.

Her new book, What To Eat And How To Eat It (R382 on Loot.co.za) focuses on the 99 top natural ingredients that she believes everyone should be eating more of, due to their exceptional health benefits. Here, she shares 3 of them and explains just why they are so good for you.  

MISO

Miso, a fermented soy food, is so nutritious that it is considered a medicinal food. It is a paste made from fermented soybeans, salt and koji (cultured barley or rice).

The Benefits

Miso is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids. It aids digestion and assimilation, it is loaded with lactic-acid bacteria, it is a good source of B vitamins, especially B12, and it strengthens the immune system. But the most interesting fact about miso is that it removes heavy metals, such as radioactive strontium, from the body. 

This research was started at the Saint Francis Hospital in Nagasaki and later confirmed with the discovery of dipicolonic acid in miso by scientists at Japan’s National Cancer Centre. 

SEED SPROUTS 

Sprouting profoundly transforms seeds or beans. Unless you grow your own food and are lucky enough to pick fruit off the tree and veg off the vine to munch on, sprouts are one of the few living foods you will eat.

The Benefits

Because sprouts are still growing in the pot or bag in which you buy them, they are teeming with enzymes and loaded with vitamin C. 

Germinating or sprouting seeds creates a huge increase in carotene. It also increases the B vitamins, particularly vitamin B2, B5 and B6. If you can’t buy sprouts locally, you can grow your own with a sprouting jar or sprouting kit. 

APPLES

An apple a day keeps the doctor away because it has many important health benefits. It’s easy to take apples for granted because they are in plentiful supply and seem so ordinary. But they are well worth including regularly in your diet.

The Benefits

There is much research proving that apples provide cardiovascular and antioxidant benefits because of their pectin or water-soluble fibre and their unusual mix of polyphenols (compounds found in plants that have antioxidant properties). Recent research has focused on this unique balance of polyphenols in apples, some of which are more concentrated in the skin than the pulp. These studies have linked eating apples with a lower risk of asthma and a lower risk of lung cancer.