The word superfood might conjure up images of wildly expensive and exotic products that only the rich and famous would ever think of eating. But the truth is that some of our most humble and inexpensive foods are incredibly good for you. Here are five of the best.
Really? Boring old apples a superfood? Well, yes. A study at the University of Michigan found that apple-eaters used fewer prescription medications than non-apple-eaters, and other studies have found an association between apple consumption and a reduced risk ofcancer and cardiovascular disease.
Don't let those bananas lurking in your fruit bowl go black - they are seriously good for you. They are an excellent source of potassium which helps to protect your heart. They also enhance your ability to absorb calcium and increase mood-enhancing chemicals, dopamine, noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine) and serotonin.
Blueberries tend to get all the attention, but blackberries deserve the limelight, too - and if you pick them yourself they don't cost a penny. Their colour comes from a natural plant colour, anythocyanin, a powerful antioxidant. In a 2006 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists indicated that blackberries' antioxidant content was far above that of other foods.
Tinned sardines really aren't glamorous, but they totally justify the superfood tag. They are packed full of calcium which is good for your bones and teeth, and have just as many Omega-3 oils - which improve blood flow, feed the brain, stabilise the heart rhythm and keep inflammation in check - as more expensive fish such as salmon.
The humble cauliflower may be cheap and not very cool, but it's a mighty warrior against cancer, containing a bunch of phytonutrients which reduce oxidative stress in your cells. One study suggests that, combined with turmeric, cauliflower can help prevent and treat prostate cancer.
Patricia Carswell is a freelance journalist and award-winning blogger specialising in health and fitness. She has written for the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, Times Online, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, Metro and a wide variety of national magazines and websites. She blogs at www.sportyoverforty.com and www.girlontheriver.com and has a particular interest in fitness for the over-40s.