SUPERFOODS are intriguing! There is a ton of hype, and a quick scan of Google will reveal that everything from wheatgrass to oatmeal to an egg or red wine has been touted “superfood” by someone. Overall, I am an advocate of finding the diet that works for your body’s needs and sticking with it for overall balance. We all stray from time to time, and that’s fine.
While a handful of kale can’t cancel a day full of processed, chemical-filled food, the benefits of some recently-in-vogue more unusual “superfoods” can tip the nutritional scales in your favor when you are looking to take your diet and energy to a new level. From elevating moods to fighting systemic inflammation, there are a handful of foods that are both easy to integrate into your life and hard to ignore for their goodness. Total Food Shui stuff!
Hemp Seeds: mega-filled with protein, these little seeds are also filled with Omega 3 & 6 oils in a ratio that is most positively anti-inflammatory. They are beautifying to skin, hair and nails, and also have lots of antioxidants that protect your DNA and keep cells in your body healthy!
Try them: the easiest way…in a smoothie. A scoop can add protein, great fats and an array of vitamins and minerals. Shelled hemp seeds can be tossed into salads, soups and even used to replace nuts in some recipes.
Manuka Honey: applied topically it has been used to heal even severe burns, skin infections,psoriasis and eczema, blepharitis on eye lids and as a powerful acne treatment. Internally, it has been used to treat ulcerative colitis (very compelling research on this!), stomach ulcers, acid reflux, internal inflammation and even gun disease. Its not just any raw honey: manuka honey is harvested in New Zealand. You must purchase certified honey stamped with a UMF or MGO “number” which designates its potency. The higher the number, the more “active” properties in the honey. Make sure that your honey is at least 10+ but a UMF number of 16 to 24 is considered most therapeutic. This stuff is certainly not cheap, but having used it, I can say it has proven to be awesome.
Try it: topically, on clean skin. Internally, a few spoonfuls a day (each concentration of honey has its own recommended dosages) before meals are all you need.
Raw Cacao: yep, raw chocolate that can create anti-depressant like bliss states, provide incredible energy, help with weight loss and balance blood sugar is great news for chocolate-lovers. The incredible antioxidant concentration and amazing health benefits of even a moderate amount of raw cacao are pretty compelling.
Try it: as nibs or whole beans, straight up as a snack. Raw cacao powder can turn almond or coconut milk and some fruit into a chocolate milkshake, you can stir cacao nibs (bits) into desserts like chocolate chips, or even add to trail mix to carry around for when your energy drops during the day.
Goji Berries: mood boosters, antioxidant-packed little berries not unlike dried cherries but a bit more chocolately if that is a possible description of how they taste. Although long term studies have yet to be done that are conclusive, it has been suggested that these massively Vitamin A-rich berries can prevent age-related vision problems, ward off Alzheimer’s and other very large medical plusses. People report better sleep and a greater sense of well being when eating these little goji. Not to get too crazy about a berry, but the fact goji have been found to stimulate the production of Human Growth Hormone naturally in the body could mean that, indeed, some super foods may actually biologically keep us younger!
Try Them: by the handful dried like raisins, rehydrated in a little hot water for a bit and chopped into salads, or even steep dried berries in boiling water to make a crazy-good berry-antioxidant tea!
*note: according to WebMD, goji are not good to eat if you are taking blood-thinners or have pollen allergies.
Kale: filled with 45+ flavonoids that decrease inflammation in the body, proven to have cancer-risk-lowering effects, and great for helping the body to detoxify itself, kale is the one superfood you have no excuse to ignore. Found at most supermarkets (even if its only used as garnish!) kale is the ultimate in must-eat foods.
Try it: raw, swapped for some of the lettuce in your salads, thrown into a high speed blender with fruit to make smoothies, or sauté it with garlic, oil and a splash of red wine vinegar at the end.