Superfoods are exactly that. Foods that are super! Let’s just say they contain a higher amount of nutrients than your regular slice of white bread or bag of cheetos. If you took 11th grade biology, you would know that most nutrients work as a lock and key. When our cells are starving for vitamins and minerals, signals are sent to the brain to eat more calories so our nutrient quota can be met. By adding these superfoods into your diet you'll not only experience glowing skin, mental clarity, and improved mood; but you'll also curb those urgent sugar or fried food cravings. In other words, you will be so hopped up on vitamins, you simply won't need the extra calories to feel full and satisfied. Now that the science is out of the way, let's take a look at some superfoods that are easy to find and oh so nourishing.
15 Wild Blueberries
We all know that blueberries are healthy for us, but if you want to get really serious about your blues, go for the wild ones. You can usually find them frozen in bags, or fresh at select farmer's markets. These are the blues usually used in blueberry pies; they bleed a beautiful purply pigment that's hella hard to wash off clothes. Because wild blueberries are smaller, they have more surface area and skin so wild blueberries have twice the antioxidants as cultivated blueberries. One serving of wild blues packs as much antioxidants as five servings of carrots, apples, broccoli or squash. They also provide 1,733 IU of vitamin E and 1,200 mg of vitamin C. Imagine eating one cup of wild blueberries instead of 5 carrots, sign me up! Plus, there are countless ways to eat these little berries. Add 1 cup to a smoothie along with a banana and almond milk. You could also add them into oatmeal, pancakes, and heck, why not make a good old blueberry pie!
I don't advise to necessarily eat cinnamon; numerous YouTube videos have proven that to be unpleasant...But adding cinnamon to your daily routine is incredibly beneficial! Cinnamon has a spicy, warm aroma and flavor that is amazing when paired with apples, pumpkin, curries, desserts, baked goods, and most other fruit. Cinnamon has an amazing power and that's to regulate blood sugar. Those with Type 2 diabetes or those with hyperglycemia can take cinnamon capsules to help regulate their sugar levels. In addition to that, cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, lowers cholesterol, and may even cut risk of heart disease. Cinnamon is also antibacterial and is great for oral health, rubbing some food-safe cinnamon oil on your gums will do wonders for your teeth and will keep your breath fresh and spicy! The best ways to consume cinnamon for blood sugar purposes is through capsule or tea form. You can also add it to smoothies, it tastes great with pretty much every fruit. Try an apple pie smoothie: frozen banana, chopped apple, almond milk, cinnamon, toasted almonds, and honey. Yum!
13 Coconut Water
If you're not already on the coconut water train, you gotta get on! Since the rise in popularity of coconut water there as been some debunking of its “superfood” status, however; from personal experience, there's no other drink that makes me feel better during a hangover or after a vigorous workout. I attribute this to the high potassium content in coconut water. The potassium is a form of electrolyte which hydrates the body better and more thoroughly than regular water. Coconut water also contains magnesium, which is a natural muscle relaxant, great for post-workout or when you're not feeling so hot. The best coconut water to consume would obviously be straight from the coconut, but that's not an option for everyone. Buying canned or boxed coconut water is almost just as good as fresh. You can also find it frozen in most health food stores, but otherwise, it's sold in tetra packs and cans in almost all mainstream grocery stores.
This is a fairly common one. Everyone is aware of lemon's amazing detoxifying properties. Adding some lemon juice to warm water in the morning is a great way to flush out your system and “reset.” The skin of the lemon or the lemon zest is also full of flavonoids and antioxidants that do wonders for the skin. Lemons are full of vitamin C, as well as minerals like calcium and potassium. Adding lemon juice to water is a great way to detox, but it also ups your hydration. Because lemon juice contains minerals like calcium and potassium, it holds the water in your body longer allowing cells to absorb it more sufficiently. Lemon water is by far the best way to get your intake of lemony goodness, but you can also add lemon to smoothies, salad dressings, tea, soups or why not try a ceviche with fresh shrimp or seafood!
11 Chia Seeds
Ch-ch-ch-chia! It's true in the 1980's you could buy your very own chia pet. But even though chia pets are still for sale, it’s cooler to just eat the seeds. Chia seeds are kind of magical because they swell up and create a gel when immersed in water. Judging by how they react to water you can imagine how they are beneficial to your digestive system. Let's just call them, “nature's laxative.” Chia seeds give you that full feeling and provide the necessary fibre needed to regulate digestion. Chia seeds contain more fatty acids than any known plant, including omega 3 which is scarce amongst seeds and nuts. In addition to a fully loaded nutrient profile, chia seeds contain 15 times the magnesium as broccoli, 3 times more iron than spinach, and two times more potassium that bananas. This seed is mighty powerful, it's been shown to reduce stress, build strong bones, and regulate the heart. Because chia gels up in liquid, making a chia pudding is a popular way to eat these little seeds. The night before, combine 2 tbsp chia seeds with 1 1/2 cups of vanilla almond milk and 1 tbsp honey; then the next morning when it's thick and gloopy, add chopped bananas, almonds and any other fruit/toppings you like!
Ginger is not just for thai curries anymore! I've come to love ginger for it's hot, zingy flavor and use it raw in tea, juice, and smoothies. Just like turmeric, ginger is an anti-inflammatory and can combat inflamed joints, muscles (great for post-workout smoothies), and inner tissue. Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties makes it perfect for combating PMS symptoms too, can you say ginger chocolate? If you've ever suffered one of those never ending seasonal coughs, drinking ginger tea is a natural expectorant, and helps expand the lungs to clear out the nasties so you can breathe easier. My favorite way to consume ginger is in juice; carrot, apple, and ginger juice to be exact, but you can add this wonder-filled root to smoothies as well as boil it down to make tea. Ginger is used in lots of curry dishes and you can buy it candied, pickled, in paste form or even in chocolate! Mmmm.
Cilantro is a staple in South American and most South Asian cooking. You either love it or you hate it, or you think it tastes like soap. In any case, cilantro is an absolute superfood star! What you may not realize is that there are things lurking in our bodies, things we had no idea were there...these “things” are metals and everyone is exposed to them on a daily basis through the food we eat, the medications we take, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Luckily cilantro is great at chelating those toxic metals out of our body and keeping our system clean. Cilantro provides high amounts of vitamin K, antioxidants, and a whole profile of vitamins and minerals. Cilantro is particularly good for those with anxiety as it provides a calming effect similar to pharmaceutical sedatives. Obviously salsa is the obvious choice here for consuming this amazing herb, but I've found cilantro particularly tasty in smoothies combined with pineapple, mango or banana.
Seaweed is in vogue. There’s something I thought I'd never say. But it's true, no longer do we judge seaweed for tying around our ankles as we swim out a little too far or for smelling, well...like seaweed. Dulse is a form of seaweed, prominent on the Northern coast of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, it is deep red in color and can be found in health food stores in the form of flakes or full strips. Dulse is famously known to have “twice the nutritional value of kale,” and was named “the bacon of the sea,” because of its robust smoky flavor. Most of us these days are deficient in iodine; Dulse like most other seaweed contains a natural form of iodine that can be easily absorbed by the body. Dulse also contains a whole bunch of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, zinc, vitamin, C, A, E, and B vitamins. To enjoy this nutrient dense seaweed, you can easily add it to smoothies, salads, soups, and even use the flakes as a salt alternative.
This superfood will surely evoke memories of your favorite Aunt's cranberry sauce at the Thanksgiving table. Cranberries are pretty serious when it comes to keeping you healthy. Cranberries aren't as common as your strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, but they really should be given more credit. These festive looking berries are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, they are known to cure most cases of UTI's and prevent ulcers and yeast infections. They contain vitamin C, fibre, and a ton of antioxidants which are particularly good for your skin. Research has shown that they may even inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Wow! What a berry! But the cranberry is not known to be the most popular berry out there and it can often be left in the shadows of the “fave four.” How do we give the cranberry the attention it deserves? Well, one way is to include cranberries in your smoothie. A great cranberry smoothie is: frozen or fresh cranberries, apples, frozen banana, apple juice, and honey. You could also buy fresh cranberry juice (sold in most health stores and drink as a tonic with a little honey). When all else fails, roast an entire turkey and make cranberry sauce to go with it.
A huge buzzword in the health community these days, but there’s good reason everybody's coo coo for kale. Kale is amongst the top tier of vegetables (along with garlic and red cabbage) that contain the highest amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants help protect and repair skin and other connective tissues, preventing breakouts and aging. Kale is incredibly vitamin and mineral rich, as a matter of fact; one ounce of kale has more iron than one ounce of beef. One serving of kale has more vitamin C than an orange, it has more vitamin A than any known leafy green, and even contains a good amount of omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for the noggin! Kale is truly one of the best foods you can eat and with its persistent popularity, there are endless recipes and dishes that feature this dynamic leafy vegetable. My favorite way to get the green in is a kale salad. Massage the leaves so you break down the cell walls, allowing more of the good stuff to get properly absorbed by your body. Add in some cherry tomatoes, grated carrots, a mix of seeds, and dried fruit (dried cranberries are the best) and finally some dressing and you have a pretty darn healthy and complete meal!
5 Sweet Potatoes
Everyone has that friend who is obsessed with sweet potatoes. You listen to their praise of this “orange potato,” but have yet to try it for yourself. Well, pay attention to the gospel my friend, because sweet potatoes are it. Sweet potatoes have gained a reputation for being better for you than plain old white potatoes — and this is completely true. Although both potatoes have similar nutrient profiles when it comes to carbohydrates and protein, their nutrient profile is very different. These sweet little spud nicks are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, along with a whole bunch of other vital nutrients. Also, sweet potatoes contain less calories and more fibre, especially if you eat the skin; promoting a healthy digestive tract. Swapping in sweet potatoes for white potatoes is a great way to up your nutrients and add a sweet, robust flavor to your favorite potato dish. Try sweet potatoe fries instead of your usual white potato fries or how about mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato shepard's pie…the recipe ideas are endless!
You often will hear advisories against eating nuts...they're full of fat, they slow down digestion and they are full of salt. This is partly true, especially for nuts like cashews and peanuts (although not a nut, I know). All of that aside, I’ve learned to love nuts and more specifically — the almond; a noble nut with less fat and more protein than the rest. Almonds are the most nutritionally dense nut, meaning there is at ton more nutrition per ounce and per calorie, that's what makes it so super! Almonds are an excellent source of potassium, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. You may prefer to roast your nuts and that's good news because roasting can actually improve your body's processing and digestion of them. If you are a vegan or even have a vegan friend, you may have heard of almond milk. To get the best nutritional punch, you may want to try making your own almond milk by soaking almonds overnight, then rinsing and blending with water. You may want to invest in a nut milk bag to squeeze out the pulp, but I've heard a nylon works too!
3 Greek Yogurt
You may be surprised to think of dairy as a superfood, but greek yogurt in particular has gotten very popular in the health movement. So much so in fact, they sell greek yogurt covered raisins...I wouldn't count those as a superfood though, but close! Unlike regular yogurt which is made in a 1:1 milk to yogurt ratio, one pound of greek yogurt is made with four pounds of raw milk. The milk is concentrated in the greek yogurt and because of this, greek yogurt is usually thicker and creamier, but also has a higher concentration of probiotics and protein. Greek yogurt generally contains less lactose because of its low carb profile so it's suitable for those with trouble digesting dairy. Greek yogurt is extremely versatile in the kitchen and can replace the likes of yogurt, sour cream, whole cream, coconut milk, and even ice cream (was the ice cream stretching it a bit?)
Maybe your idea of staying healthy wasn't exactly sucking down raw shellfish, but oysters are actually insanely delicious and one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Oysters are most famously known for being one of the best aphrodisiacs, helping people get in the mood for centuries. Oysters contain a lot of zinc, a mineral scarce in most modern food, which supports production of testosterone in males and progesterone in females. Zinc is also a vital mineral for immune function and mental health. Oysters contain high amounts of B-12, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, copper, selenium, as well as a significant amount of protein and omega 3's. Raw oysters are usually safe to eat, but always be wary when choosing your oysters. Make sure the shell is closed shut and they don't smell too offensively fishy. If you feel unsure about eating raw shellfish you can try smoked oysters, oyster stew or even baked oysters.
Before you buy out the entire Cadbury section of your local drugstore, we should get into specifics here. Yes chocolate is considered a superfood, but what I'm talking about here is dark chocolate of at least 70% or higher. Anything else is usually riddled with sugar, fat, and milk solids. But still, how cool is it that chocolate earns a place as a superfood! Chocolate is usually 30 percent fat, 5 percent protein, 61 percent carbohydrate, and 3 percent minerals. Having said that, chocolate contains polyphenols or flavonols which are compounds with potent antioxidant properties. Chocolate falls into the same vein as red wine, cranberries, and tea which also contain the same kind of flavonols. Because of its high content of polyphenols, chocolate is excellent at regulating blood pressure and promoting heart health. Chocolate is also incredibly rich in minerals such as magnesium, copper, manganese, and even iron. I don't think you need coaching on how to eat chocolate but just in case: Go to the store, buy 70% dark chocolate bar, eat chocolate bar, thank life.