So what are superfoods?
Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
They are jam-packed full of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals, making them fantastic nutrient powerhouses to help fight disease, infection, free radicals and to help promote and support good health.
One of the most touted benefits of super foods are their high levels of anti-oxidants that fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are a natural occurrence through metabolism, however extra and unnecessary free radical loads put on our bodies by external factors including pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation, burnt foods, deep fried fats and cooked foods can increase the amount of harmful free radicals. When enough of these free radicals are created and not counteracted by antioxidants, symptoms of illness can occur, from cardiovascular health to immune system problems.
This is when you need antioxidants to build up the immune system and fight off the free radicals in the form of superfoods (added to your healthy meals) and/or supplements.
Luckily, superfoods taste AMAZING, but just in case you need even more convincing, I’ve got a few fast facts about them for you.
1. Goji berries
Goji berries are grown on vines in the protected valleys of inner Mongolia and Tibet. Goji Berries are known for their high antioxidant and immune boosting properties and are a very rich source of vitamin C. These little powerhouses contain all 18 amino acids, and lots of vitamins and minerals too including A, B1, B2, B6 and E and trace minerals.
Try it… sprinkled on cereal, in smoothies and yoghurts, or even on their own!
2. Raw Cacao
You’ve heard me rave about the benefits of raw cacao for both your body and your taste buds [on this blog before], but I had to add it to this list.
In its raw state, cacao is extremely nutritious and is a great source of vitamins and minerals including magnesium, iron, chromium, copper, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. It’s also one of the world’s most potent sources of magnesium, a mineral shown to help alleviate sadness, fatigue, irritation and stress, as well as boosting energy levels. Cacao has even been shown to relax the walls of blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation.
The humble cacao bean is also a haven of antioxidants. These antioxidants are helpful in preventing and repairing free radical damage, protecting and repairing cells and therefore helping to keep you healthy.
Try it… [as a delicious and (somewhat) nutritious treat], added to smoothies, mixed through porridge, in desserts, in raw chocolate energy balls.. the list goes on!
Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre; are rich in plant based omega-3 and make a great source of fuel to provide energy.
Most notably these powerful seeds are renowned for their Omega-3 properties making it a super food for the brain and heart, as well as a beauty food for healthy skin, hair and nails.
They are high in nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamin C and are a particularly good source of dietary fibre, making them great for digestion.
These tiny seeds provide a high amount of fibre which forms a gel-like solution, moving through your body and cleaning up as it goes along.
Try it… for breakfast. Check out our [chia breakfast post] for a tasty chia pudding recipe, or try sprinkling on top of muesli, granola, porridge, yogurt and smoothie, or even used as an egg replacement.
4. Coconut oil
Coconut oil contains short and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT fatty acids) which are digested more easily and utilized differently by the body. Our bodies metabolise MCT fats in the liver, immediately converting them into energy (fuel for the brain and muscle function) rather than storing it as fat, as is the case with trans fats.
Fatty acids in coconut oil contain antimicrobial properties, which have a soothing effect on bacteria, Candida, or parasites that cause poor digestion.
In addition, coconut oil is very heat stable, meaning it has a higher smoking temperature than polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils and will not produce the free radicals from heating the oil during cooking unlike many others. If you’re preparing recipes that require high temperatures, you should definitely consider coconut oil for this type of cooking.
And coconut oil is not just for your cooking – it’s a wonderfully hydrating treatment for your skin and hair too!
Rub into the scalp for an anti-dandruff treatment in the evening and wash out the following morning; use as a hair mask for a really good deep condition; rub all over the body as a super hydrating and moisturising skin care routine; use as a face moisturiser if you want to avoid adding any products on your skin.
Try it… in a [pre-workout smoothie] – Check out our workout prep and recovery post for more smoothie and workout recipe ideas.
You can also add it to raw cakes, raw energy bars, raw chocolate, into green tea or coffee for an energy boost, through porridge, the list goes on and on.
5. Bee pollen
Bee pollen is collected by bees from flowering plants and formed into granules. Bee pollen is the most complete food found in nature and contains up to 35% complete protein, has 22 amino acids, is a rich source of B vitamins, Vitamins C, D and E, minerals, trace elements, enzymes and antioxidants.
Bee pollen is often used as a natural energy booster, as well as being popular for supporting the immune system and increasing stamina.
It is a natural antidote for fighting allergies particularly hay fever and sinusitis, helping to reduce inflammation.
Research has also been shown to suggest that pollen counteracts the signs of aging and increases both mental and physical capability!
Irish Author Susan Jane White recommends putting it in the freezer to neutralize the taste if you’re not fond of it. I personally quite like it’s caramelly, yet slightly bitter tones.
Try it… by sprinkling it on top of muesli, granola, porridge, smoothies, or adding to desserts and raw chocolates. The general recommended intake is 2 teaspoons daily.
6. Maca Powder
Maca is a root vegetable that grows in the Peruvian Andes at very high altitudes. It is a highly nutritious food that has been traditionally used to help with hormone balancing, stamina, energy, vitality, sexual function, fertility and enhancement of immune function.
By increasing oxygen levels in the blood, maca helps with stamina and vitality. It also works as an adaptogen, helping one to cope with stress both physical and mental. It has also been shown to improve memory by improving the function of neurotransmitters.
Maca is easy to digest and considered naturally rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc, and contains 10% high-quality protein.
Try it… by adding it to smoothies, porridge, desserts (goes well with cacao) muesli, puddings, or even over main meals such as stew or curry (just make sure you sprinkle it once the food has cooled slightly so as not damage the maca via excess heat.)
Acai Berries are an Amazonian fruit from Brazil pronounced Ah-sigh-ee. They are a powerful and nutritious super food that are incredibly high in antioxidants, polyphenols, anthocyanins (the purple piqment), amino acids, dietary fibre as well as vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, beta-carotene and vitamin E.
They are incredibly rich in antioxidants and are choc-full of polyphenols and essential fatty acids 3,6 and 9 making them brilliant for heart health, eye health, skin health and joints.
Try it… in smoothies, raw desserts, raw energy balls or into porridge.
8. Cereal grasses: Wheat grass and Barley Grass
Wheatgrass is well known for its rejuvenating and alkalising health properties thanks to its abundance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, chlorophyll and fibre.
It even contains all 8 essential amino acids making it a fantastic protein source.
Wheatgrass is supportive to the immune system, helps to boost energy levels, improves the skin’s radiance and health and has an alkalising effect on the body thanks to the chlorophyll content.
Barley grass is an alkalizing food which is high in nutrients, including the B vitamins, as well as vitamin C and E, folic acid, beta carotene, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. Barleygrass is a rich source of antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids and phytonutrients as well as containing high levels of chlorophyll.
Barleygrass and wheat grass powder are a great addition to any healthy diet, helping to boost nutrient levels and detoxify the body.
Try them… added to smoothies, juices, mixed through yogurts, added to dressings, dips, spreads and raw desserts.
Spirulina is a blue-green microscopic algae with a full spectrum of nutrients that are highly nourishing to the body, containing vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, amino acids, chlorophyll and even some essential fatty acids.
Spirulina contains iron, and B6 which help with both immune, brain and cognitive function, as well as containing high levels of chlorophyll which help with cleansing, detoxing and energy levels. Spirulina is known to absorb heavy metals and toxins from the body and is overall supportive to the body.
Spirulina is a high source of complete and digestible protein, containing all the essential amino acids. Throughout studies it has also been shown to be a more absorbable source of protein than the protein found in beef.
Chlorella is a single-celled green algae rich in chlorophyll. It is an excellent source ofprotein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, including the B-complex vitamins, iron, calcium, zinc, manganese, biotin and copper.
Chlorella is an incredibly effective detoxifier helping to remove alcohol, chemicals, heavy metals and even environmental pollutants from the liver. Especially useful for helping your body cope with any alcohol consumption.
It’s also very useful to help boost the immune system, maintain colonic function by benefiting the balance of your gut flora and helping to promote strong healthy hair growth and radiant skin.
Try it… mixed into smoothies or in handy capsules.
10. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are so readily available and so highly nutritious, however most people do not eat enough of them. Fresh green leafy vegetables contain high doses of chlorophyll, easily digestible proteins, enzymes and a wide range of health-boosting vitamins and minerals shown numerous times to help lower risk of disease and illness.
They purify the blood, alkalise the body, support the immune system, cleanse the kidneys… they are a true superfood!
Try any of the following: rocket, spinach, dandelion greens, kale, watercress, parsley, lettuce, endive, chicory, broccoli sprouts and mustard sprouts.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me via our Facebook page!
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication