A superfood is actually a marketing name for foods with extra health benefits. Most of the time these foods are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help to bind toxins in the body and get rid of them more effectively than if the body was just trying to do it alone. Just because the superfood is also a marketing ploy, it doesn’t mean that they cannot support your health. Unfortunately, because of the label, many superfoods cost an arm and a leg. There are many “non-fad” superfoods that don’t.
The key to superfoods is to rotate them. Just like anything, you don’t want too much of a good thing. The system gets used to having the same food over and over and the medicinal benefits are not at potent if the body has enough of it.
How should superfoods be consumed? They come in so many formats that it depends on the food. Powders are easy to put in smoothies and elixirs. Whole foods are easy to carry around as a snack. Other foods can be mixed together to give even more benefit. There are so many options that you can pick and choose as you go. Each superfood has its own set of nutrients so base your choices on what will work best for you. There are too many for me to list and go through all of the superfoods but you will find some of my favourites listed below. We are always so focused on what we can take away to feel better but a superfood is something you can add to improve your health!
Let’s start with the most common ones: açai, green tea/matcha, fish oil, kefir, hemp, chia, cacao, seaweed, coconut oil, turmeric, cilantro, blueberries, eggs, almonds, ginger, garlic
Turmeric: this ones is the easiest because it doesn’t taste like much. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t taste like curry, it just gives it the color. A shake in yogurt, a smoothie, over a stir fry will go a long way in fighting inflammation in the body. Get high quality, organic turmeric or a top notch supplement.
Cilantro: this binds to heavy metals. I know many won’t eat it because there is a gene that makes it taste like soap! But you can sub parsley and it will have similar effects. We are exposed to heavy metals every day from our homes and work places, gasoline and the air. A little extra help in your sandwich, taco and stir fry can go a long way.
Green tea/matcha: ever wondered why you could tolerate green tea but not coffee? They both contain caffeine but green tea has less AND it has theanine which is calming for the system and also supports the annal glands. Drinking the tea is effective, as is taking a theanine supplement.
Then there are the “boring” ones: sprouts, oats, lentils, artichoke, celeriac, greens, quinoa, broccoli, salmon, beets, cranberries, pumpkin.
Sprouts: these are packed with enzymes, protein, fibre and vitamins. A little bit goes a long way and there are so many different types to choose from. My favourite is broccoli sprouts but there are sunflower, alfalfa and pea sprouts just to name a few. You can sprout anything (think oats, lentils, grains, chickpeas) and the process makes it easier to digest them. It’s possible to sprout yourself with a kit and seeds from a health food store but you can purchase greens of haligonia, good leaf and others at Pete’s, Spring House and The Tare Shop as well as other health food stores.
Artichokes: many have only ever consumed artichokes in a spinach and artichoke dip but they have so many more uses. They are full of fibre and protein and so many nutrients. They aid in digestion (because they are a prebiotic) and liver health, and may even help to lower cholesterol. They are full of antioxidants that may have a cancer preventing effect. It’s possible to make a healthy spinach and artichoke dip (minimalistbaker.com) but they are delicious in a salad with lentils and olives, in a frittata, in a stir fry and just steamed with olive oil and lemon juice.
Celeriac: this is the gnarly, hairy root veggie that you probably pass by in the grocery store. It has a mild celery flavour but I don’t like celery and I love celeriac. It is high in fibre so it supports digestion. It is high in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant. It can support the heart with vitamin K and th mitochondria because it is high in B vitamins. It is delicious roasted but I sub it in for scalloped potatoes and it is so good.
Not to be left out are the fancy ones: moringa, bee pollen, Maca, goji berries, teff, chicory, nutritional yeast, mangosteens
Bee pollen: is a complete protein with lots of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. It builds the immune system, is a brain booster and enhances vitality. Beekeepers naturals is my favourite brand.
Maca: this is a root. It is supportive for the adrenal glands and helps to balance hormones in both males and females. It is also known to increase libido. Powder form is best absorbed but it is made in capsules as well. Check out joyoushealth.com for the Sexy Maca Basil recipe.
Chicory: is often touted as a coffee substitute. For those who love coffee it isn’t even close in my opinion but it has a deep flavour that’s reminiscent of coffee. I often pair it with dandelion root to double the support for my liver. Powder, mixed with hot water, a dairy free milk and a little honey is a delicious drink. It has antioxidant action, decreases blood sugar and reduces inflammation.
And the new ones: shilajit, lacuma, black garlic, baobab, ashwagandha.
Shilajit: is traditionally found in the Himalayas. It is a dark, tar like substance that is formed from the slow decomposition of plants. More research needs to be done but it is thought to be useful for Alzheimer’s, infertility, low testosterone levels, chronic fatigue syndrome, aging, altitude sickness and heart health. It is found in powder form at health food stores and online.
Black garlic: contains a higher content of Allicin and antioxidants as compared to raw white garlic. It is produced by allowing white garlic to age for 3-4 weeks at a temperature of 140-170 degrees Fahrenheit. It is found at Asian grocery stores and maybe other retailers. It can support heart health, boost the immune system, stabilize blood sugar and preserve cognitive function.