How do you feel about the term ‘superfoods?’ For me, it really just means foods that are a nutritional powerhouse in terms of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and/or antioxidants. Including more of them in your everyday diet can do wonders for your health and wellness beyond just feeling great. By incorporating them in your daily life, you can start to feel the difference that real food can make and that is really one of my biggest goals after all.
For this post, I wanted to share 10 foods that can be commonly found in your grocery store so that no matter where you live, you can still have access to the best superfoods. I also included five more exotic superfoods that you can include if you wish. But, superfoods don’t necessarily have to be exotic or expensive for you to get some serious benefit. So lets take a look at my 10 everyday superfoods that you can include in your diet and then look at my top 5 exotic superfoods.
Ten Everyday Superfoods:
- Kale: One of the reasons kale is such a superfood is due to its high calcium to phosphorus ratio. This ratio is beneficial since a high phosphorus consumption has been linked to osteoporosis as it reduces the utilization and promotes the excretion of calcium (Murray, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods). If you are following the Standard American Diet (SAD) you may be consuming more phosphorus in the form of pop/soda. Kale is also extremely high in chlorophyll, which is an antioxidant that has been shown to help prevent cancer and improve liver detoxification.
- Blueberries: I particularly love getting blueberries when they are in season as they taste the best that way. These little berries also pack a serious punch with their anthocyanidins which exert the exceptional antioxidant activity that we all know and love. Blueberries have been researched extensively and have been shown to protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions, such as Alzheimers disease (Murray, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods). Similar to cranberries, blueberries also help with urinary tract health as they help prevent or eliminate UTI’s.
- Coconut: What is not to love about coconuts, there is so much to be thankful for with coconut oil, milk, water and the meat! What I really love the most about coconut is the fat! No longer a dirty word in the health world, fat is now becoming known as something that we need not only to live, but to thrive as well. The fat structure from coconut is what is so great as approximately 50% of the fat is in the form of medium-chain saturated fat called lauric acid. This has serious antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that have been shown to eliminate viruses and other bacteria. The other really neat thing about the medium-chain fat is that this is more easily absorbed and preferentially used as an energy source, this fat burning actually increases the body’s metabolic rate (Murray, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods).
- Walnuts: If you have ever looked at walnuts, you may have noticed that they kind of look like a brain and this is interesting because they have been shown to support brain health, including increasing inferential reasoning. This is due to the vitamin E, folate and omega 3 in walnuts. Walnuts also contain arginine and this amino acid allows blood vessels to relax and prevents platelet aggregation which may account for the cardiovascular protective properties that walnuts provide (Murray, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods).
- Salmon: This is another food that is considered brain food and is an excellent source of protein, potassium, selenium and vitamin B12. Wild salmon has more calories than leaner fish due to its fatty acid content, with one serving containing 1000 milligrams of EPA and 725 milligrams of DHA. Farmed salmon has a higher content of omega-6 fatty acids, whereas wild has more protein and more of the heart healthy omega-3’s that are so important for brain health.
- Beets: This is one of the best foods to have when you are detoxing as it supports the liver. Beets are an unusual source of betaine which is a key body nutrient made from the B-complex vitamin, choline. The betalin pigments have been shown to support our body’s Phase 2 detoxification process. Phase 2 is when our cells hook activated, unwanted toxic substances up with small nutrient groups, this “hook up” process neutralizes these toxins and makes them water soluble, allowing for excretion in the urine.
- Avocado: If you know me at all, you know I LOVE avocados and they are my absolute favourite fruit of all time. They are nutrient dense and due to their high fat content can help with satiety and they taste amazing! The fat content is approximately 20% which is 20 times that of other fruits. The oils provided by avocado include oleic acid and linoleic acid which may help to lower cholesterol levels. Avocados also contain a lot of potassium, in fact one avocado has the potassium content of two to three bananas, the fruit we most often associate with potassium. Potassium is a mineral that helps to improve blood pressure control, which helps support the kidneys and as an electrolyte helps conduct electrical charges in the body.
- Sweet potatoes: I have written about sweet potatoes before and highlighted how delicious they can be as a base for your breakfast here. Their high beta carotene content is truly what makes sweet potatoes so important for our health and our skin health as well.
- Pumpkin seeds: When you think of pumpkin seeds, what is the first thing you think of? Well you can associate it with prostate health due to the high levels of essential fatty acids, zinc and phytosterols which can benefit prostate enlargement. They are rich in minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc and copper. Their wide variety of mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) makes them unique and also a powerhouse of antioxidant support. Last, they also have antimicrobial and anti-viral properties making them a good choice if you are treating candida or following a parasite cleanse.
- Garlic: Roasted garlic is just one of the ways you can take an ordinary dish to a new level and it really helps to mellow the flavour of garlic if you do find it too strong. It is the sulfur-containing compounds that truly make garlic a remarkable food. Chopping or crushing garlic helps to stimulate the enzymatic process that converts the compound into allicin which is what makes garlic such a superfood and it is also what gives garlic the odor it does. Allicin is what makes garlic antimicrobial which makes it effective not only in fighting infections like colds, flus, stomach viruses and candida but it is also powerful against fighting pathogenic microbes like tuberculosis and botulism. It has also been studied in regards to how it offers protection against some cancers, such as colon cancer (Murray, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods).
Five Exotic Superfoods:
- Raw Cacao: This is where chocolate comes from and seeing as chocolate is my favourite food, I had to share the health benefits of incorporating cacao in your diet. Aside from the deliciousness that is chocolate, it also offers up tons of nutrition as well. Raw cacao powder contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and has nearly four times the antioxidant power of your average dark chocolate. Cacao is also a great source of magnesium, calcium and flavonoids which can help lower LDL cholesterol, improve heart function and reduce your cancer risk. It has also been shown that it helps to raise your serotonin levels which helps to elevate your mood and emotions. This could also be why you crave chocolate when things aren’t going well and sadness or depression start to set in. High heat and processing damage all of this goodness, so try to incorporate raw cacao into your recipes for all of these great benefits.
- Chia seeds: These little seeds have been growing in popularity over the years and don’t let their size fool you, they are packed with goodness! They are fairly high in protein and omega 3’s as well as antioxidants and flavonoids. What I love about chia seeds are their fibre content. This helps you to feel full faster and may also help with weight loss. The fibre is in the form of both soluble and insoluble which creates a gelatinous effect when soaked in liquid and this is what makes chia puddings so perfect. If you are looking for an all natural way to ease digestive upset like constipation, try drinking a large glass of water with 1 tbsp or so of chia seeds and a squeeze of lemon juice for a citrus zing and see how that makes you feel.
- Sea Vegetables: It is a shame that seaweed usually flies under the radar seeing as it not only is a true superfood but it is also are great at enhancing the flavours in our meals as well. Some of the sea veggies I use the most include: kelp, kombu, wakame, nori and dulse. What is so great about including these sea veggies in your diet is that they offer the broadest range of minerals of ANY food, containing virtually all of the minerals found in the ocean. They also contain plant compounds that have cancer protective properties which can reduce the body’s inflammatory response (Murray, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods).
- Maca: This is probably one of my personal favourites to use. Maca is a Peruvian root that is known as an adaptogen, hormone balancer and metabolism booster. It helps the body adapt to stress by countering the negative effects of tension and anxiety while tonifying and boosting the endocrine system (Bacon, The Moon Juice Cookbook). Maca also delivers abundant energy, mental stamina, hormonal balance, enhanced libido and an elevated mood and has a complex and distinct caramel flavour which complements a lot of other foods and herbs. I often incorporate it in my homemade nut/dairy free milks and homemade baked goods.
- Hemp: I have written about hemp before and this is one of those foods I always find myself using on a daily basis, you can read all about hemp here. Particularly it is the balanced ratio of omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids that make this a true superfood as this helps with so many things such as inflammation, brain health and lowered blood pressure.