Superfoods have become “trendy” in the health world. Some people swear by them, others are reluctant to believe in their “super powers”.
We tend to use superfoods a lot in the Fitnut Kitchen, and recent inspiration by David Wolfe has opened our eyes to more superfoods and their many benefits.
So what exactly are “Superfoods”?
Superfoods are nutrient-rich and antioxidant-packed foods considered to be especially beneficial for overall health and well-being. They increase your natural energy, and boost your metabolism and immunity. They also elevate serotonin levels, reduce inflammation and alkalize the body.
We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite superfoods for which you can find recipes that include them on our blog and instagram page.
Our top 10 Superfoods
Because who doesn’t love chocolate?! We are however referring here to raw cacao i.e before all of that cream and sugar is added. Cacao is in fact the most antioxidant dense food out there and the number one source of magnesium, iron, manganese and chromium, which helps to balance blood sugar and reduce sugar cravings. In simpler terms, Cacao or raw chocolate improves cardiovascular health, builds strong bones, is an aphrodisiac, elevates your mood and energy, and increases longevity.
Maca is an ancient Peruvian superfood and what we call an “adaptogenic” i.e. a natural food that helps the body adapt to environmental stress. It increases energy, endurance and strength. It contains more than 10% protein and nearly 20 amino acids including 7 essential amino acids. Maca also contains B vitamins, which help balance hormones and mood, improve thyroid function, and increase libido and fertility.
Hemp seeds are a complete source of proteins and are rich in iron, amino acids, vitamin E and omega 3. They are very easily digested and are allergen-free. They support heart and brain health, strengthen the immune system, balance blood sugar, and reduce inflammation in the body.
Hemp seeds have a light, nutty flavor making it easy to pair with both sweet and savory dishes. We like to top them over our breakfast bowls, blend them in our smoothies, as well as sprinkle some on our salads.
Spirulina, a blue green algae found in freshwater lakes, is one of the most complete food sources in the world. It has the highest source of complete protein and contains all 7 amino acids. It also provides us with a long list of minerals, trace elements, phytonutrients, chlorophyll and enzymes, making it easily digestible. In fact, Spirulina creates a healthy and alkalized environment in your body to prevent disease, and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria. In addition to all of these benefits, spirulina supports the body’s detoxification by ridding it of toxins and heavy metals.
We like to add spirulina to our smoothies, juices and homemade truffles. Start with small amounts to see how your body reacts to it!
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that pack a punch. They are an excellent source of proteins, calcium, magnesium, antioxidants, omega 3 essential fatty acids, and fiber. They also provide a trace mineral, boron, which helps aid in absorption of calcium. “Chia” literally means strength in Mayan. In fact, Chia seeds provide a sustaining flow of energy and make the digestive process easier for your body. When eaten, they form a gel with stomach liquids that helps to slow down carbohydrate absorption and the conversions of carbohydrates into sugars. These little black seeds can absorb 12 times their weight in water, thus helping you stay hydrated and retain electrolytes. Because chia seeds are flavorless, they are easy to incorporate into your diet on a daily basis. Add them to smoothies, truffles, use them to create delicious pudding recipes (add pomegranate recipe), etc.
Yes, coconut oil is a superfood! Why? Coconut oil is an antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and a natural repellant to most things that will harm your immune system. It’s an excellent source of saturated fats and contains lauric acid, a type of fat that can kill harmful pathogens such as candida in the body, as well as improve digestion, support weight loss, balance blood sugar, promote heart health, boost brain function, increase immunity, and support thyroid function and skin health.
Recent studies also suggest that an increased intake of coconut oil may help increase ketones stored in the brain. Ketones are responsible for optimum brain function, and increased levels in the brain are linked with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
In addition to using coconut oil in our food, we love to use coconut oil as a beauty product to strengthen our hair, skin, and nails thanks to its vitamin E, which provides a number of anti-aging benefits.
Just like the raisins we grew up eating (or were forced to eat) but better! Also known as “wolfberry,” goji berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Goji berries are packed with antioxidants, help to reduce inflammation in the body, and have been shown to increase energy, improve eyesight, support heart health, and boost immune system. They contain 18 different amino acids, including the 7 essential ones, and up to 21 trace minerals that are vital to good health. Goji is regarded as a longevity and strength building food, and secretes the human growth hormone that makes you look and feel younger.
Lucuma has been referred to by Incan cultures as “the tree of life” and “Gold of the Incas”. Lucuma is high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that reduces the effects of aging and improves eyesight, and contains iron, zinc, vitamin B3, calcium, and protein. Moreover, lucuma’s maple-like taste makes it a great sweetener alternative.
9. Bee Pollen / Honey
Bee pollen is one of the most complete and nourishing foods found in nature. It contains nearly all B vitamins, especially vitamin B9 (folate) and all 21 amino acids making it a complete protein. It is also a great source of iron, antioxidants, and enzymes. Bee pollen thus enhances energy and vitality, strengthens immunity and fertility, and is known to treat allergies and reduce food cravings.
When it comes to honey, make sure you consumer the raw/organic kind.
Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga and Shiitake are often referred to as “Herbs of Immortality”
Long chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha and beta glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms’ beneficial effect on your immune system. In fact, the beta-glucan fibers found in the cell walls of mushrooms stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells and prevent tumors from forming.
Mushrooms also contain Selenium which has been found to improve immune response to infection by stimulating production of killer T-cells.
Moreover, and despite Mushrooms’ lack of color, they contain just as high an antioxidant capacity as carrots, tomatoes, green and red peppers, pumpkins, green beans, and zucchini.
Vitamin D deficient? Consuming dried white button mushroom extract was found to be as effective as taking supplemental vitamin D2 or D3 for increasing Vitamin D levels!
Mushrooms also happen to be high in potassium and low in sodium which help to decrease the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. An intake of 3 grams of beta-glucans per day can lower blood cholesterol levels by 5%.
Okay, so now we’ve got the science down, but why do you want to take medicinal mushrooms? Because they will help protect and support your immune health. Medicinal mushrooms are also one of the few plant species that are an ‘immune modulator’ ; one of the most intelligent adaptogenic herb/superfoods. Which means they can either up-regulate or down-regulate natural immune response as needed, and everyone can benefit from a consistent flow to their immune system; hence the term “adaptogenic” meaning they adapt to your body’s needs.
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