Super-size your health with superfoods
Super February is here! With that thought in mind, my article today takes a look at super nutrients and super foods that will provide you with mega nutrition.
I have spent the last decade and a half motivating people to eat well. My primary tool has been whole, plant based food with great taste and great nutritional value. Flavor is the key to making a positive change in your food choices. I have learned, if something doesn’t taste good, people won’t eat it in the long run, no matter how good it is for them.
Rebecca Katz, chef and author of “The Longevity Kitchen”, says “The day has arrived when science has met nutrition. Particularly, how nutrition relates to longevity. The fact that I am now able to write about the links between food and longevity, relying not on speculation but on thousands of published scientific studies, gives me so much confidence that I’m practically bursting at the seams. It’s as though scientists all over the world have confirmed what Grandma instinctively knew when she said, “Eat this. It’s good for you.”
We have learned through nutritional science that ginger is good for the digestive tract. How many Grandma’s offered ginger tea as a remedy for an aching belly? Looking to our ancestors, as well as other cultures around the world can be a way to determine what foods will heal, as well as extend our lives.
Writers traverse the globe in an effort to figure out why people who live in certain regions have significantly longer life spans. In many of the cases, diet played a key role. Factors going beyond food, include exercise, being active in the community, having a sense of purpose and using mind-body relaxation techniques to relieve stress. There is a definite connection between food and the body.
Learning to eat for your life and moving toward healthy food preparation that is delicious, is a gradual process. It becomes a part of you on a subconscious level. It can be very helpful to start with foods that you already know how to prepare and enjoy. Add a new ingredient, an herb or a spice to bring on the super.
The list of “Super Natural” foods below will help you get a good start. You will find many colors and flavors represented in this list. The more variety, the better! As you become more conscious about your food choices, you’ll discover a growing awareness of the connection between what you eat and how well you feel.
Asparagus – Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Digestive support, Diuretic
Avocado – Anticancer, Cholesterol reduction
Basil – member of the mint family. - Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Liver health
Blueberries (and other dark berries) – Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Brain health, Heart health, Eye health
Beets – Anticancer, Liver health
Green tea – Anti-cancer, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Appetite suppressant, Blood pressure reduction, Cholesterol reduction.
Dark chocolate (unsweetened) – Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Blood pressure reduction, Heart health
Fermented foods (raw kraut, yogurt (nondairy), miso) – Digestive support, Immune health, Brain health
Garlic – Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Cardiovascular health
Kale – Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory, Cholesterol reduction, Eye health
Olive oil and Olives – Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory, Heart health, Stroke prevention
Pomegranates – Anti-inflammatory, Heart health
Sweet potatoes – Blood pressure regulation, Cardiovascular health, Immune support
Thyme – Antibacterial, Antimicrobial
Turmeric – Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory, Brain health
Walnuts – Anti-inflammatory, Bone health, Heart health
Wild salmon – Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory, Brain health, Cardiovascular health, Joint health, Skin health
David Wolfe, author, nutritionist and leader in the vibrant food movement suggests, “A new day is dawning on the world of nutrition. With our increased knowledge of nutrition and our access to the internet, cable television and food products from around the world, we have learned of ancient food groups that have been used for centuries among indigenous people and have been rediscovering them in our present day culture”.
The ancient super foods fall into three food groups that we are discovering in our present culture:
1. Living, raw plant foods include most fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, seaweeds, sprouts, grasses, fresh herbs, and fermented foods. They are filled with life giving enzymes, macro and micro nutrients as well as phytonutrients and antioxidants all working together to build new cells and slough off damaged cells.
2. Superfoods include foods that have a dozen or more unique properties, not just one or two. For example, the Goji berry is a source of complete protein, immune stimulating polysaccharides, liver cleansing betaine, anti-aging properties, as well as antioxidants and over twenty trace minerals.
3. Superherbs include herbs that have super tonic and adaptogenic properties as well as many other unique properties. For example, reishi mushroom helps support the immune system, heart, lungs and kidneys, and assists with rejuvenating brain and connective tissue.
“It is becoming clear that to achieve the best health ever, the best relationship with food ever, and to have the most fun with our food, we must consume Superfoods, Superherbs, and Raw and Living plant food cuisine. In doing so, we will find that our desire for less healthy foods will fall away naturally because we no longer find them enjoyable”. (Wolfe)
I have developed an eating regimen that includes all of the above choices. It takes time to learn some new recipes, so don’t give up! Reduce and substitute. Reducing foods that are filling your plate now, and substituting them with foods on these lists weekly will be of great benefit to your health. Work with a nutritionist to understand how to make a plan if you find it hard to make your own.
Here are the top recommended Super foods:
Choose organic, unrefined and raw when possible.
Wheatgrass – (Growers in the U.S.) Blood purifier, Cleanser and Detoxifier, Anti-bacterial, Oxygen rich, Source of protein and chlorophyll
Coconut water, Coconut oil ( Asia, Indonesia) – Hydrates and provides electrolytes, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-bacterial, Increases metabolism
Chia seeds (South America, Paraguay) – Hydrates and increases endurance, Cholesterol reduction, Weight reduction, Protein source. They are most beneficial when soaked for at least 10 minutes.
Hemp seeds, Hemp powder (Central Asia, Canada) – One of natures most perfect foods and best sources of plant protein. Contain all 10 essential amino acids for building protein and Omega 3 oils, Immune building, Anti-inflammatory
Spirulina algae - (Salty waters around the world) – another excellent source of quality protein, as well as vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes and chlorophyll
Chlorella or E3Live (fresh water algae) – forms of microalgae phytoplankton that prefer fresh water as opposed to salty water. They are the richest source of chlorophyll found in nature. Weight loss, Immune health, Protein source, Digestive health.
Goji berries, Inca berries, Wolf berries (Asia) – An adaptogen that has medicinal and therapeutic actions on the human body. Stress relief, Adrenal health, Kidney health, Protein source, Anti-inflammatory.
Cacao (Central, South America and Mexico) – Raw cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants in the world. They are destroyed by cooking, refining, and processing. Brain health, Anti-inflammatory, Blood health
Aloe Vera (Subtropical regions, Africa, America, Asia and Europe) – The gel contains polysaccharides which have a lubricating effect on the joints, brain, nervous system and the skin. Increase energy, Immune building, Anti-viral, Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Digestive health, Skin health
Maca (Peruvian Andes or South America) – A very powerful adaptogen that has medicinal and therapeutic actions on the human body. Libido enhancer, Hormone health, Nervous system, Cardio vascular health. Maca is best used in cooler weather, as it is a warming food. It is best to be cautious and use this adaptogen sparingly.
Why not just pop a pill and take a supplement and be done with it? It all comes down to the interactions of the nutrients within a single food that make other nutrients in that food easier to absorb.
It is their synergy together that has the greatest health improving impact. Each person is different, and each body will absorb nutrients differently. This is the best argument for eating a varied diet.
There are times when supplements are necessary or helpful, but first and foremost, I like to lean towards food to give me the nutrients that keep me healthy. Supplements can be used to correct a deficiency, but I always come back to the food as the most efficient way to get nutrition.
Look for most of these super foods locally at Healthy Life Markets, Kroger natural foods section and Purple Onion at the Farmers Market.
Enjoy the recipes and see how many of the Super foods you can find in them? It makes’ life exciting!
Blueberry "Super Power" Shake
Makes 1 large serving
1 cup almond or coconut milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon Spirulina or 1 teaspoon E3Live
3 drops blueberry non-alcohol extract or vanilla non-alcohol extract
pinch of salt
Blend all ingredients and drink cold.
Chia Seed Applesauce Bread
Makes 16 servings
1 cup rice flour or oat flour
1 cup any gluten free flour
3 tablespoons chia seed
1 teaspoon non-aluminum baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup brown rice syrup or coconut nectar
3 1/2 tablespoons apple butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped
egg replacer (1/3 cup water, 1 tablespoon flax seed)
Prepare the egg replacer by mixing the ground flax and water. All to sit for 5 minutes to gel.
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (applesauce, egg replacer, melted coconut oil, brown rice syrup, apple butter and vanilla extract)
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients
Stir in apple chunks. Let set for 10 minutes
Pour mixture into a 9-inch square pan that has been oiled with coconut oil
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
Cut cooled bread into 16 servings
Refrigerate for best freshness.
Super Kale Salad
1 bunch curly kale either red or green cut from the stem and julienned (roll leaves and chop)
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 cup hemp seed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries
1-2 cups additional chopped or grated vegetable (broccoli, carrots, cabbage)
1 avocado cut in cubes
Mix the kales in a large bowl.
Add juice from the 2 lemons, olive oil, sea salt and garlic powder to the kale
Work this mixture in with your hands to begin to break down the kale. Let sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
Add the additional vegetables, blueberries, and hemp seed, and stir in.
Fold in the cubed avocado before serving.
Refrigerate to marinate for 6 to 8 hours.
Serve and enjoy.
Makes one large serving
1 cup almond or coconut milk
1 cup hot water (for a hot drink)
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon tumeric powder or fresh turmeric juiced
1 teaspoon coconut sugar or honey or 1/2 teaspoon sweet Stevia
1/2 teaspoon lecithin granules (optional)
pinch of sea salt
pinch of black pepper
Blend all of the above adding the lecithin granules in last. This may be either a hot or cold drink.
2 cups dried goji berries
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 handful cacao nibs
1 tablespoon raw cocoa powder
1/4 cup almonds blended into fine powder in a high speed blender or a food processor
Grind the goji berries in a food processor or blender with a grain grinder container.
Place in a bowl with other ingredients and knead like dough into balls.
Store in the refrigerator.
Goji Lemon Aid
Makes one large serving
1 large handful of goji berries
3 cups water
1 lemon, freshly juices
1 pinch Himalayan salt
Soak the goji berries at least 2 to 4 hours in room temperature water and occasionally stir.
Pour through a strainer to remove berries.
Use the soak water and add the lemon and salt.
Lightly sweeten if desired.