super food - jamie holding a plate of fruit

The word “superfood” gets thrown around a lot. The term has been applied to turkey, blueberries, garlic, pomegranates, chocolate and broccoli – a pretty random mix. Like most nutritionists, I’m not particularly comfortable with the word, as it tends to encourage people to eat a high quantity of a few specific foods without really knowing or understanding the full story.

Let’s look into these. Turkey is a lean source of protein, and full of vitamins, such as B6, and minerals including zinc, potassium and phosphorus; broccoli is a great source of folate, potassium and vitamin C; beetroot is packed with folate; and garlic is a great source of vitamin C and manganese. What to make of all that? Well, because these foods contain different nutrients at varying levels, it’s essential your diet includes a combination of them if they are all to be absorbed into your body. Sadly, this is often misunderstood, and people get caught up in the hype, and restrict themselves to eating lots of one thing, meaning they become deficient in everything else.


Jamie’s book, Everyday Super Food, and accompanying TV show champion a healthy, balanced diet, and is all about eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, and foods from each of the food groups. The main reason for this is that each food group – fruit and vegetables; meat, fish, protein alternatives (such as milk and dairy products); bread, cereals and potatoes – contributes different good stuff to the body. The final food group includes foods that are high in fat and sugar (pastries, cakes, and biscuits, for example), but these shouldn’t be eaten too often.  

Key nutrients such as protein, fat and carbohydrates will be ingested by eating a balanced diet, and each will, in turn, have their own role to play in wellbeing. Protein works to repair and build muscles, carbohydrates provide us with energy to move, and good fats are an important source of essential fatty acids such as omega 3, as these can’t be made by the body. Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat that is beneficial to heart health and brain development.

The point I’m keen to encourage is that there is no quick way of achieving good health, and that fad diets endorsing the latest “superfood” are only ever a short-term method of quick weight loss at best. Fad diets are likely to fail, as there aren’t many people who can last long eating only one food – and why would you, when there are so many truly super foods out there?

The best way to ensure you have all nutritional bases covered, and that you’re the best you you can be, is to take regular exercise alongside eating a balanced diet. Include foods from all the food groups, and forget about fad diets and superfoods.

Here are some of our favourite superfoods…


How do you like your eggs in the morning? We like ours every which way because they’re a great source of protein, plus many other essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D. Our bodies need vitamin D to absorb calcium, which in turn keeps our bones healthy.



feta cheese in a block, crumbled

Despite the bad rap due to its high levels of saturated fat, cheese can be good for you. The key to successfully including cheese in a healthy diet is to use it sparingly. Cheese is an excellent non-meat source of protein and also contains a number of essential vitamins, minerals and bone-building calcium.



grilled salmon with asparagus, new potatoes and lemon

Fish has so many great nutritional benefits going for it: It’s a fantastic source of protein, typically low in fat, and by consuming a variety of types, it will provide many different vitamins and minerals, each offering wide-ranging benefits to the body. Oily fish is also a good source of omega three and fatty acids, which help keeps our heart healthy.



photo of sweet potato

The humble sweet potato is a veritable powerhouse of nutritional goodness. The most prominent nutrient in sweet potatoes is vitamin C: one large sweet potato contains more than 70% of our daily reference intake, more than double that of white potatoes! And, unlike regular potatoes, these vegetables do count towards your 5-a-day because they are lower in starch than other carbohydrates.



watercress freshly growing in soil

Vitamin K is found in extremely high amounts in spinach, kale and watercress… so eat your greens! Our bodies need vitamin K to help keep our bones healthy, to help our blood clot, and enable effective wound healing when we injure ourselves. These three greens also all contain calcium, which is essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones and teeth.



Tofu is a great protein source, whether you’re a meat-eater or not. It’s a great base, as it can suck up flavour and take on different textures like nothing else. Tofu also provides a selection of micronutrients such as copper, manganese, thiamine (vitamin B1) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6).



Nuts and seeds

Go nuts and snack happy! Nuts are one of the few plant-based sources of protein, so they’re a great thing to include in a vegan and vegetarian diet. When it comes to nuts, just like fruit and veg, it’s best to mix up the varieties you eat to get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals and the maximum nutritional benefits.



Beans provide myriad health benefits, with each variety offering specific nutritional benefits. They offer an array of vitamins, minerals and are actually a great source of protein and fibre that’s ideal for vegetarians.



From a nutritional perspective, greens are a source of potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C and B-vitamins such as folate and vitamin B6 – they’re a nutritional powerhouse!



We’re all familiar with the idea of 5-a-day, but we should really be aiming for at least 5-a-day, if not more. To lead a healthy and nutritious life, fruit and veggies need to be right at the heart of your diet. The wide bounty of incredible vitamins and minerals we get from the wide array of fruit and veg out there is honestly astounding.



wholegrain products on black table with name of item beside it

Carbs in general have got a bit of a bad name in the foodie world, but working whole grains and wholemeal products into your diet can mean wonders for your health. Whole grain and wholemeal varieties of carbs all contain higher levels of certain minerals, iron, phosphorus and a variety of vitamins, than their refined counterparts. Integrating wholegrain into your diet is super simple: all carbohydrates have a whole version so there is no excuse!



ginger with the skin being shaved off with a spoon

Both these spices are powerful healers and packed to the brim with micronutrients. Ginger is a good source of manganese, which helps contribute to the normal formation of connective tissue in the body. Fresh ginger is a great source of potassium which helps the nervous system function normally, and contributes to the maintenance of normal blood pressure. Whereas turmeric is super-high in iron, which we all need to make red blood cells and transport oxygen around the body. When both spices come together they posses anti-inflammatory and anti-gastrointestinal qualities. Spice up your life!

For more help becoming the best you can be, order your copy of Jamie’s Everyday Super Food!

About the author

Laura Matthews

Laura is head of nutrition at Jamie Oliver. Her passion for food comes from having cooking lessons at a local college from the age of 10, and the nutrition side from a fascination for how the right foods can fuel the body.

Laura Matthews