Though luxury foods may come with a price tag, there are some delicacies that offer some wonderful health benefits too. Don’t overlook the value simply because you think the price reflects the exclusivity of the product, or that you think decadence goes hand in hand with calories. Consider the following foods and the health benefits they offer to keep in tip-top condition throughout the year.
Let’s start with more affordable luxury. Sushi is an important part of a Japanese diet and the wider world has been waking up to its litany of benefits during the last decade. Sushi is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils which are essential fats with a range of benefits to the body including lowering cholesterol levels, combating heart disease and reducing blood pressure.
The body doesn’t naturally make these essential fats, so grabbing a pair of chopsticks and chomping on some sashimi, shellfish served on its own, nigiri, fish with a topping of white rice or maki, a wrapping of seaweed, rice and filling could give your health a much-needed boost.
There are other benefits too – the protein, oils, essential fats and antioxidants are said to improve concentration levels and support better brain functions, stabilise moods, speed up muscle repair and recovery and boost your immune system.
Sushi is definitely at the budget end of the luxury food market when compared to beluga caviar, which can cost thousands of pounds per kilo. Caviar is a spread made from salt-cured fish eggs and it offers a range of health benefits.
The American Heart Association says just a single gram of caviar a day can improve heart health by reducing the chances of clots, protecting arteries and guarding against the onset of heart attacks and strokes. A single teaspoon of caviar is also rich in selenium, a mineral, which combines with vitamin E present in the body to protect blood cells, support cell growth and help the immune system. It is also packed with vitamin B12 and is said to lift moods and even control impotence.
Fancy some more omega-3? Japanese Kobe beef is another luxury food that could bring down cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Most beef can do this in moderation, but what makes Kobe special is the balance it strikes between omega-3 and the not-as-beneficial omega-6.
This unique balance can lower triglyceride levels, a type of fat stored in blood cells, and boost the overall health of the heart. Meanwhile, Tajima Japanese Wagyu steaks are said to help with a plethora of health problems such as diabetes, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.
Like caviar, Kobe beef is not cheap, and you will be looking at spending around £250 per pound of meat. It has achieved its reputation as the king of red meats through its production process which involves cattle being bred according to strict traditions.
Spices can also be luxurious, and there are none that match Saffron. This spice is the most expensive in the world at a cost of up to £4,000 per pound. The high price stems from the intensive labour method involved, which hikes production costs significantly. Saffron originated in Greece and comes with a host of health benefits.
It is rich in plant compounds with antioxidants including crocin and kaempferol, which will fight off the nasties that try to attack your blood cells. Crocein, a pigment that gives this spice its red colour, is believed to protect brain cells and help people to lose weight by curbing the desire to snack.
Studies also show saffron may bring down blood sugar levels, help those suffering from Alzheimer’s by improving brain cognition and improve eyesight. Saffron gets its reputation from its price and its ability to transform a dish from merely tasty to delicious.
Best of the rest
Lobster is another luxury food that features at the top of many people’s dream dining lists and for good reason. As well as offering a delicious taste, this large marine crustacean is also a prime source of copper and selenium and to a lesser degree, B12, vitamin E and omega-3.
Finally, another rare Japanese delicacy, matsutake is a great source for a variety of minerals, vitamins and proteins, but expect to pay up to around £2,000 per kilo for the highest grade of this group of mushrooms.
Before indulging in any of the foods listed here, you may want to check your BMI to determine your Body Mass Index and speak with your doctor about a suitable diet for you.