You may wonder, what exactly is a superfood? Why are they good for me? What makes a particular food a “superfood?” Is it a food that makes me have super powers? Ha, not exactly super powers, but superfoods have been getting a lot of attention lately and they are definitely powerhouses.
Generally speaking, a superfood is a food that has a high nutritional content, is packed with antioxidants and is high in vitamins and minerals. These powerhouses have been found to help with insulin levels, aid in cardiovascular health, support healthy cholesterol levels, help with aging and the list goes on. I've identified some of my top 7 favorite superfoods, the benefits and some ways to incorporate them into your diet.
Please note–these are powerful and very nutritious foods. If you are on medications or blood thinners, are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult with your doctor before adding these foods into your diet.
Don’t let their size fool you-these small, red berries are packed with quite the power. Just one ounce of these small berries offers 3 grams of protein and they are high in selenium, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C. Most often, goji berries are found in dried or powder form. They have been used in Chinese Medicine for over 5,000 years and have been known for their anti-aging benefits as well as their powerful immune support. They are super yummy when added to the top of chia seed pudding. You can find my recipe here. Try sprinkling them into any salad, add them into your own granola mix or just eat them dried by themselves.
Cacao, also known as raw chocolate, is a superfood that most people get excited about because they see it associated with the word chocolate. Wait, you mean I can eat chocolate and it’s good for me? Now, when I say chocolate, I am not talking about your standard milk chocolate Hershey’s bar here. This raw, bitter chocolate comes from the seed/nut of a fruit of the Amazonian tree and has a very high level of antioxidants. Its level of antioxidants is higher per gram than red wine, blueberries and green tea. In addition to its high levels of antioxidants, it is also high in magnesium, zinc and iron. It is most often found in a powder form or in small little nibs. I love using cacao powder (1 tsp-1 ½ tsp) mixed with almond milk to make a yummy chocolate drink. Or, try using cacao nibs in your next batch of granola for a delightful, powerhouse crunch!
Traditionally grown in Peru, maca root is a cruciferous root vegetable (one that you most likely will not stumble upon at your local grocery store) and is usually found in a powder, tablet or a tincture. Maca has many benefits including stress management, increased libido, it helps to balance out hormones, offers protection from osteoporosis, and it has also been known to help with perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. Try adding 1 tsp of maca into a glass of water for an energy boost!
Camu camu is a shrub that is native to the Amazon rainforest and is one of the highest sources of vitamin C on the planet. Its berries are very tart in flavor so it is most often found in a powder form. Due to its high levels of vitamin C, it is very powerful for the immune system and aids in skin health. I love it so much that I use this ingredient in my Vitamin C Facial Masque. A great way to add it into your diet is to add 1 TBSP of our Vitamin C Facial Masque to your morning smoothie for a burst of vitamin C.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is grown in warm, alkaline fresh water around the world. It is the world’s highest vegetarian source of complete protein and is usually found in tablet or powder form. It provides a vast array of minerals, trace minerals and phytonutrients. It has been known to help lower blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure as well and it supports healthy cholesterol levels. It also can help with environmental allergies. There are many ways to use spirulina, but my favorite ways to use it is to add 1 tsp of the powder mixed into a smoothie or try ½ tsp - 1 tsp mixed with your favorite plant milk for a beautiful colored drink!
There are many different sea vegetable options, but some of our favorites are nori, wakame, dulse and kombu. Sea vegetables are rich in nutrients and they offer iodine, magnesium, calcium and potassium. They have been known to help with a healthy immune system, support a healthy gut microbiome, as well as support the thyroid. Buy some nori sheets and make your own veggie sushi. Try sprinkling kelp on top of salads, or, use it in soups. Dulse can be added into a smoothie or on top of avocado toast. Dried kombu can be added to your brown rice, quinoa or beans while cooking-the options are endless on ways to add sea vegetables in your diet!
Hemp seeds have a strong nutritional profile, are a great plant source of omega 3’s and are packed with protein. They have a rich, nutty flavor and are often referred to as “hemp hearts.” Hemp seeds are rich in iron, zinc, phosphorus and magnesium and they have also been known to help with inflammation. Try adding them to your homemade granola, sprinkle on salads or on top of chia seed pudding.
Superfoods are most often found at any health food store. When purchasing superfoods, you will want to make sure they are certified organic. Some of my favorite brands are: Nativas Organics, Organic Burst and Nutiva.
How do you like to incorporate superfoods into your recipes? Share in the comments below!