In the day and age of buzzwords, where no industry has been spared, the food business too has wrapped itself up in one such word, superfoods. While the idea behind branding foods behind this label is to promote a healthy alternative to what people mostly eat, there is some truth to most of the claims. Which is why the term is mostly backed by nutritionists and dieticians. Folks you would generally trust your gut when it comes to your gut.
When it comes to healthy, naturally occurring foods, the beautiful island of Sri Lanka sure boasts a wide variety. It really isn’t much of a surprise, given the islands climate and the fact that there’s ample waters for the citizenry to catch their daily doses of healthy food.
While it is to be kept in mind that the term superfoods suggest nutrient rich food that is beneficial for one’s health, it is also of great importance to know that a lot of these foods and beverages are already known to us and its only now. Since we’re looking at them through the lenses of health-conscious individuals the importance has yet again taken the front seat, but don’t be surprised when you found out you’ve already probably had a few of these in your lifetime.
Before diving into any of the juicy details this list has to offer, it’s important to point out that while the main motive for branding superfoods is to promote a heathier alternative to sourcing nutrition, it is also essential to do so in ways that don’t lead to these foods becoming a liability for the already strained resources on our planet. And the enjoyment you get when eating something delicious and healthy is something only you can truly experience.
Sri Lanka has been known to have its fair share of good fortune when it comes to being blessed with naturally occurring food sources. The cherry on top of this bountiful cake is the fact that most of these naturally occurring ingredients tend to pack a punch where nutrition is concerned. Let’s look at a few of these edible powerhouses of energy.
World over it is now accepted that fish not only provide a source of healthy protein but a whole host of vitamins and useful minerals like vitamin D, B12, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and a few more healthy minerals on the periodic table. In addition to this, the ever so famous Omega-3 fatty acids which aide in good cardiac health hygiene, this abundance in health benefits can be easily accessed for most Sri Lankans owing to their geographic proximity to the sea.
So, the next time you’re in the mood for some delicious fish curry, rest assured you would not only have a tasty treat, but a meal packed with healthy goodness added on.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
There shouldn’t be much of a surprise that this spice features in this list, it has after all found its way in lattes at our favourite coffee shops. And for good reason, what was discovered in ancient times by the wise citizens of South-Asia, this yellow-orange spice features not only as a flavour enhancer but brings with it loaded benefits, and a host of vitamins and minerals. So much so, that the spice is ground into a paste and used in various Ayurvedic treatments a few KMs away from our island, in India. Turmeric also boasts anti-inflammatory properties that can be used to treat aches and pains like tooth aches, menstrual cramps, colic etc.
Pro-tip, the next time you have those unfortunate kitchen accidents where you cut yourself while prepping for a meal, add turmeric to the wound, it works as an antiseptic and staunches the blood flow as well.
World over, there seems to be a revival of grains that once upon a time occupied a fair share of popularity in its consumption. It was with the advent of green revolutions in the South Asian belt that wheat and rice took over to become the more dominant grains. But with an increased focus on sustainable forms of farming, while producing high yield, high nutrition grains, it is only obvious that we tap into our wealth of resource from history. By bringing back ancient grains, that grew unhindered by human intervention, in terms of modifying the characteristics of their yield, flavour, growing conditions etc. these grains are poised to come back on our plates. Grains from Sri Lanka such as Kaluheenati, Suwandel, Dal wee, and Maa wee, are ancient varieties of rice that pack a punch of nutrition and is known to grow in difficult climatic conditions as well. Not just rice varieties, but millets are finding its way back to the mainstream, with the Indian Govt and the UNs joint effort to declare the year 2023 as the year of millets. With the aim of promoting the revival of these superfoods that make for easier farming practices adopted and result in yield that can benefit the farmer and the consumer alike.
Think Sri Lanka and if you don’t think tea, then you’ve got to go back to your history books, because Ceylon was once a hotbed of tea plantations, which then found its way to other parts of the subcontinent. And amongst the various varieties are the more ubiquitous green tea. At this juncture in life, one can be certain that this is a tea they would have either had or know someone who swears by it.
It is no surprise that this makes the list of superfoods, what being packed with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and to an extent anti-ageing with its ability to prevent large scale cellular damage. This humble brew is steeped with benefits that even extend to allowing you kick back and relax, unwinding from a taxing day at the office, with each sip washing the anxiety away. There was no way this product missed this list.
A fruit that has very close ties with the people of Sri Lanka, this fruit can often find itself as a substitute for rice, with a boiled version of this fruit doing the job for rice. This also finds itself in use as a vegetable dish, and often resembles the texture of meat, being dubbed as a vegetarian’s meat. The jackfruit is finding its popularity world over, and for good reason, known to help reduce blood pressure and improve bowel movements, this right here is a fruit of choice for many. The lesser-known benefits of these fruits also include its ability to curtail the growth of cancer cells because of the phytonutrients (compounds occurring naturally in certain plants and legumes) that help fight these cells. Think of these more a fight-o-nutrients, that are taking up strong defence to protect you from the nasty cancer cells.
It would be a criminal miss, if the benefits of coconut water were left out. The country and its cuisine are quite closely and intimately related to the benefits and goodness of the coconut tree. Not only does the nut provide its flavour in food, it comes with its own story of benefits. An antioxidant powerhouse, the water is known to reduce cholesterol markers in the body. It also acts as a brilliant rehydration solution, so the next time you find yourself dehydrated, keep an eye out for fresh coconut water and let the electrolytes bring your hydration levels back to energised.
As it was set out from the beginning, a lot of these products mentioned above aren’t necessarily a surprise, but with the nutritional backing they have, they are without doubt essentials in your pantry or fridge. It must also be known that, we here, at Copper Ceylon, also use a lot of these ingredients in our food, not just for its health benefits, but also because of the delicious flavours it brings to the dishes we serve our patrons.