‘Superfoods’ are all the rage at the moment. It has become trendy to fill the cupboards with superfood supplements and products. Superfoods such as spirulina, acai and Noni juice have become household items. While I don’t think that superfoods are the be all and end all for health, they can be a great addition to your daily diet. They provide a range of nutrients and health benefits and (as long as they don’t replace a balance meal) can be thought of a simple way of boosting your daily nutrition.
Here are my favourite superfoods that I use at home on a regular basis:
Cacao is chocolate in its raw form, and comes in the form of cacao beans, nibs or powder. It has a bitter taste, but adds a lovely chocolate flavour (without the fats, dairy and sugar) when added to foods like smoothies or desserts. Cacao contains high levels of antioxidants. In fact, it has many more types of antioxidants than green tea, red wine or blueberries. Its high levels of vitamin C, magnesium and chromium making it a nutrient rich snack and it can help blood sugar regulation. This makes it the perfect choice when you feel like something sweet and want to avoid the naughty alternatives.
Coconuts provide many amazing health benefits and come in many different forms. Coconut water, coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut cream are all available, but coconut oil out-shines the others. The oil is made from the meat of mature coconuts and contains a type of fat called ‘medium chained fatty acids’. This is a unique form of fat that can be absorbed straight into a cell and used as energy (therefore not stored as fat). The oil has been shown to have anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. It is a great oil to cook with, as it stays stable at high temps and will not oxidize. Adding a spoonful of coconut oil into your smoothie will help you to stay fuller for longer between meals.
Chia seeds are originally found in South America and have been used as early as 3500BC by the Aztecs. Interestingly, Chia grows best at 15 degrees from the equator and is today grown on this latitude in Australia and South America. Chia seeds contain a high amount of beneficial oils. Up to 64% are Omega 3 fatty acids. They contain 23% protein and are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians or people with a low animal product diets. They contain 6 times more calcium per weight volume than milk. They are also high in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, boron and copper. They are almost tasteless and can be added to a variety of different meals. Ground or whole chia seeds can be sprinkled into yoghurt, cereals, muesli, smoothies or even into salads.
Acai is a South American berry. It has one of the highest antioxidant values of all fruits and berries, therefore protecting us against free radical damage, inflammation, toxicity and cancers. These come from its bright purple pigment. On top of this, it is a good source of plant sterols (that can balance cholesterol levels), good fats and fibre. It has high vitamin C, E and beta-carotene. There are many Acai based pre-made food supplements available. All contain high levels of sugar; in fact some even contain high fructose corn syrup- the worse kind. Avoid these at all costs! Healthy Acai forms can be purchases as a berry puree, or freeze dried powder.
Chlorella is another type of algae that comes with a high nutritional profile. It is rich in many vitamins such as A, B’s, C and E. Like other dark greens, it is high in magnesium and contains chlorophyll which promotes alkalinity. It is often used as part of a detoxification regime as it can bind to toxins and heavy metals and pull them out of the body. It gives a great energy boost and the powder can be added into green smoothies or juices to bump up your daily nutrition.
So there it is my top 5. Stay tuned for more ways to use these amazing foods in your daily diet.
Yours in Better Health,
Hayley Stockbridge (Naturopath)