While berries and\u00a0avocados\u00a0are exceptional nutritional powerhouses, they may be a tad pricey for daily consumption. One may think that Malaysian cuisines are mouth-watering as they are risky to your health and clean eating may come across as pricey investments. But of course, there is much more to meet the eye when speaking of healthy eating via the Malaysian diet. Sometimes a little substitution in ingredients or simply the right choice of a Malaysian meal of the day can make all the difference! #1 Leafy Green Constituents of\u00a0Ulam!\u00a0 Image credit: Canva This traditional bowl of Malay salad often accompanies servings of white rice along with sambal belacan for a spicy dip.\u00a0The vegetables are served fresh, raw, and crispy. Typically, the ensemble of ulam servings constitutes vegetables and herbs such as: \tUlam Raja (Cosmos caudatus) \tUlam Pegaga, also known as Pennywort leaves \tBitter gourds \tBanana blossoms \tTomatoes and cucumbers \tPetai beans Needless to say, you may rejoice if this delicacy has long been a part of your menu! The benefits from the array of leafy greens come in abundance and definitely make up for the spicy sambal dipping sauce. Some of these benefits include: \tThey are crazy economical, most of these plants thrive in the Malaysian climate so you can grow them yourselves in your own backyard or garden! \tThey are a great source of natural antioxidant and antihypertensive agents. Once part of your daily diet, it helps fight diseases caused by oxidation and hypertension. \tThe Pennywort leaves are fantastic for boosting brain function, blood circulation, gut health, digestion and even collagen in your skin, contributing to a better, more flawless complexion. #2 Turmeric, also known as, Curcumin Image credit: Canva Turmeric is a staple ingredient in the Malaysian diet and is definitely one you can find in your average Malaysian household. It doesn't just add a boost of flavour and colour to your meals but its main active ingredient, curcumin is known for a variety of health-promoting effects. You can sprinkle this along with your favourite vegetables and proteins. It can also be consumed in form of turmeric milk or along with a cup of smoothie. It's loaded with vitamins and nutrients that are essential combatants to a list of diseases affecting your brain and body. Among its numerous benefits are: \tBioactive compounds that will improve your overall brain function and fight neuro-degenerative diseases. \tIt's a solid source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that inhibits diseases like cancer, stroke, heart disease, and Alzheimer's. \tIts active ingredient, curcumin, aids the mood and memory of aging adults. \tCurcumin in turmeric acts along with your gallbladder for bile production. This helps relieves indigestion, stomach upset, and bloating, as well as heartburn. \tIt's a natural pain reliever. #3 Tofu-based Meals Image credit: Canva Malaysians might be familiar with this superfood through beloved local snacks and cuisines such as\u00a0tauhu sumbat, tempeh, tau foo fah.\u00a0Insanely cheap and accessible, you can find tofu-based meals, snacks, and desserts in your local roadside stalls, food courts and even malls. Tofu is made from fermenting soybeans into curds and then pressing them into solid blocks.\u00a0A process much like cheesemaking but of course tastes nothing quite like cheese. It's a superfood of its own mainly because it's an excellent source of protein, iron, calcium, and minerals such as manganese and phosphorus.\u00a0Tofu also contains all nine essential amino acids. These compounds cannot be formed by the human body and therefore need to be sourced from superfoods such as tofu! #4 The Fragrant Pandan, also known as Screwpine Image credit: Canva Pandan leaves are extremely common in South Asia and Southeast Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Most Asian households find it very common to grow pandan plants of their own as they thrive in tropical climates. Left undisturbed, most pandan leaves can grow into plants measuring up to two meters in length. Fun fact: Did you know Vietnamese cab drivers are known for using pandan leaves as natural air fresheners in their cars? Not to mention they are also a popular all-natural insect repellant! Plenty healthy and highly economical, pandan leaves definitely deserve a place in the list of the top, most accessible superfoods in Malaysia. They are very versatile, commonly consumed through a range of sweet and savoury culinary delicacies. Pandan leaves may be steamed into rice for an aromatic touch, infused into pastes and delicious bakes, or steeped with tea. Pandan-based foods come with plenty of benefits, some of which are: \tThey are rich in vitamin A, compounds that contribute to better eyesight and inhibit the growth of cancer cells. \tPandan contains laxative properties which can alleviate stomach upset and constipation. \tPandan-infused tea can reduce uric acid in your body which can remedy symptoms of gout. \tPandan paste is high in iron and helps combat iron deficiency or anemia. \tEssential oils derived from pandan are well known in relieving and aiding arthritis. #5 Herbs, Spices and \u00a0Everything Nice! Image credit: Canva These are the ingredients chosen to create the perfect concoction of Malaysian seasonings and flavouring! Herbs like sage and thyme, and spices such as star anise, cumin, cloves, and dried chili are principal ingredients in iconic traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines. These spices are brimming with nutrients and health benefits: \tIn Indian menus, cumin seeds are infused into teas or made into cumin water (jeera pani). The latter normally contains cumin seeds, mint leaves, sugar, and soda water, believed to be a powerhouse for nutrients like manganese, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6. These are vital in boosting your immunity system and regulating your overall gut health. \tCloves offer a unique aroma to rice and curry-based meals. Despite their bitter taste, they supply a barrage of benefits including being a natural remedy for bad breath! You can also find these infused into your favorite chai tea. They're natural antioxidants and contain antifungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties which help with diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. \tThe star anise is definitely the star of spices. It's a source for Vitamins A & C, aiding with digestion, bloating and cramps. #6 Catfish Image credit: Canva The catfish is an infamous source of protein most especially found in Malay meals. They are freshwater fish that thrive almost all over the world and actually consumed beyond the Malaysian borders! Regardless of where they are found, this is a fish jam-packed with protein, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins. You may commonly find them deep-fried but a much healthier option is to prepare this fish is by pan-frying, dry heat cooking, baking, or through other means that enables you to substitute your average cooking oils with olive oil. This way, it preserves its nutritional value, resulting in lower calorie, fat, and sodium contents. #7 Yoghurt in Your Classic Indian Meals Image credit: Canva A typical serving of an Indian meal is not complete without a bowl of curd (a.k.a yoghurt or dahi), or a glass of the infamous\u00a0lassie\u00a0drink which is a delightful Indian twist to smoothies. It's made from fermenting milk with yoghurt culture. The kind used in Indian cuisines can be easily found in an Indian or local grocery store near you. It's fairly different than your average yoghurt\u2014much thicker and sourer. This superfood has a probiotic nature and makes a healthier, low-fat substitute for coconut milk, full cream milk, and ever tartar.\u00a0Its many benefits include: \tIt is incredibly dense with protein, calcium, vitamins, and live culture\u2014better known as probiotics\u2014which improve your gut health, bone formation, and overall immunity system. \tIt is lactose-intolerant friendly! Yoghurt is known to contain much lesser lactose than milk. \tIt neutralises acidity in your stomach and is one of the best natural remedies for indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux. \tIt contains nutrients such as magnesium and potassium which are highly effective in managing high blood pressure. #8 Super Pulses: Of Dhal, Beans, and Lentils! Image credit: Canva Dhal is a common accompaniment in the forms of puree or curry, to your go-to roti canai, chapati, thosai, or rice. They may be inexpensive and tasty household menus, but they are also riddled with numerous health-promoting benefits! In the Indian context, dhal is also translated to lentils, or any split legumes like beans, peas, and chickpeas. A study published by\u00a0The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition\u00a0verified that simply including legumes in your diet can help with weight loss while preventing weight gain. This is because of their high protein content and low glycaemic index, which is highly full-filling and reduces one's hunger by a significant degree. Some health benefits\u00a0of these super pulses are: \tLentils are an excellent source of dietary fibre, folic acid, and potassium that greatly mitigates risks for heart diseases. \tAccording to the American Heart Association (AHA), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) also known as, \u201cbad\u201d cholesterol can be largely reduced by increasing your fibre intake. \tThe potassium, calcium, and magnesium in lentils also help lowers blood pressure. #9 Special Mention: Nasi Kerabu Image credit: Canva The\u00a0nasi lemak\u00a0may be the face of a classic Malaysian breakfast but it is still not necessarily the healthiest breakfast option. At least not unless you substitute the coconut milk-based rice and increase the side dish of greens. This doesn't mean, however, that we are limited in nutritious local offerings\u2014any true Malaysian knows it's far from the truth! The Nasi Kerabu is an example of an all-around healthy, flavourful meal. One that is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The epitome of a balanced meal; it's accompanied by an assortment of green salads (ulam) and crisp raw vegetables loaded with fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants. Every bite comes with a punch of zest, crunch, and the side of protein\u2014normally chicken, beef, or fish are actually best consumed grilled instead of fried. Moderation for the Best Nutrition Superfoods are marketed to mean foods that are exceptionally nutrient-dense and contain the least amount of calories. In other words, these groups of food are nutritional powerhouses! They are incredibly rich in micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and enzymes that are vital to your body. Even so, everything you consume ought to be in moderation because after all, too much of anything isn't good for the human body. For more insightful reads or fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!