In my previous posts, we talked about the benefits of adding more protein, healthy fats and fiber to our diets. Today I want to talk about superfoods, what they are and why we need to add them to our diet.
“Superfoods” is a term that refers to foods that are particularly nutrient dense. They are loaded with free radical fighting antioxidants that protect our cells from damage, premature aging and cancer. Adding small amounts of these foods to our diet will deliver great benefits.
What are some superfoods?
Probiotics- improves digestion, aids in nutrient absorption, boosts immune system. Probiotic literally means “for life” and refers to the good bacteria in our gut. If we don’t have lots of good bacteria, we will never feel good. Probiotics are found in lactofermented foods and beverages like sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir. You can also get it in capsules or powder form. Try adding them to your smoothies, sprinkle on food or enjoy them by themselves.
Bee pollen- high in protein, energy booster, lowers cholesterol, full of antioxidants and vitamins. Bee pollen is a nutrient powerhouse and contains almost all the nutrients you need to live. It is rich in folate, amino acids, and vitamins B, C, D, and E. It is called the “fountain of youth” and has been used to treat many conditions including seasonal allergies.
Spirulina- detoxifier, brain food, energy booster, alkalizer. It is a micro-algae that is rich in nutrients, omega 3’s, vitamin B, iron and magnesium. It also contains astaxanthin, a carotenoid that has been shown to protect our skin and eyes from UV rays. Spirulina helps the growth of good bacteria in our gut which boosts the immune system. It does have somewhat of a strong green and fishy taste so start small and increase dosages over time depending on how you feel. I like to add it to smoothies and green juices to mask the flavor.
Maca- energy booster, increases stamina and endurance, balances hormones, aids in memory. It is a root from the Andes that has been used for centuries for it’s powerful benefits. You can get it in capsule or powder form. I love adding it to smoothies since it has a nice flavor similar to butterscotch. Try adding some cacao and cinnamon for a tasty combination!
Acai- full of antioxidants, prevents free radical damage, contains essential fatty acids. This berry is a beautiful deep, rich purple color and is loaded with tons of antioxidants. It is low in sugar so it’s good for those on the candida diet. You can find it in powder or frozen form and it is a delicious addition to smoothies.
Cacao- tons of antioxidants, lowers blood pressure, gives energy, improves mood. Cacao is said to have the highest amount of antioxidants than any other food. Raw cacao has over 1,500 beneficial compounds. The flavanoids in cacao relax the walls of our cells and blood vessels so it’s good for those with high blood pressure. It contains tons of magnesium for muscle relaxation, constipation and improved sleep. It gives a bit of an energy boost since it contains theobromine, which is similar to caffeine but doesn’t cause the same “crash” after eating it like normal caffeine does. I love to add raw cacao powder to smoothies and use the cacao nibs in my homemade gluten free chocolate chip cookies.
Goji berries- helps eyesight, improves fertility, boosts immune system, promotes longevity. These tiny bright red berries have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. They are at the top of the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) list, which measures the free radical destroying potential of a particular food. They are also a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids we need. I’ve added them to smoothies but are also great as a snack with some seeds and nuts.
Ginger- one of my faves! powerful anti-inflammatory, improves digestion, relieves nausea. Ginger is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods out there. Its potent and spicy oils can interrupt some of the chemical reactions that happen in our body when inflammation is present. It’s a great addition to juices and smoothies and has a nice spicy kick. I love to make a homemade ginger lemonade to help detox and fight off illness. Just add some fresh lemon juice and either powdered ginger or juice some ginger and add it to water and add stevia to taste. It’s delicious hot or cold!
Cinnamon- reduces inflammation, detoxes, controls glucose levels, relieves indigestion. Cinnamon is most known for it’s ability to stabilize blood sugar levels. It is high in manganese, iron, calcium and fiber and adds a lovely warming flavor to food. It prevents the growth of bacteria, and is anti-fungal and anti-parasitic. Just sprinkle some on your food or add it to a smoothie.
Rotate these superfoods as you like. Adding a few to your drinks or food on a daily basis will greatly improve your overall well being.