If you've ever been in a health food shop (and we hope you have) then you've no doubt seen the words "Super Food". There are many, many different foods that can be classed as super foods, mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds - as you might expect; the fresh food is the healthiest. Superfoods deserve their "super" name, because of their high nutrient to size ratio, and the various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they contain. This selection presents the superfoods that are typical additions to healthy meals and smoothies, and not commonly eaten on their own, with the exception of nuts and berries:
Our Top 10 Super Foods:
Found in many juice bars, you may have tried a shot of this powerful super food juice before. Wheatgrass is high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, iron, calcium and magnesium. As well as active enzymes, fibre and high amounts of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has an antioxidant effect that helps to prevent the formation of free radicals, and has a cleansing and energizing effect on the body. Wheatgrass also contains a high content of protein; a shot of wheatgrass juice contains almost a gram of protein!
1 or 2 teaspoons of wheatgrass powder can be mixed with a small amount of water or juice and drank as a "shot", or it can be added to any shake or smoothie for an extra boost.
Coconut Oil & MCT Oil
This has to be one of the healthiest oils in the world. Coconut oil is a "good fat", it is mostly medium chain fatty acid, which makes it easy to digest and quickly absorbed by the body. It gives a sustainable energy boost and most importantly for many people, it's not stored as body fat. Coconut oil is also high in lauric acid, which is antibacterial, and helps the body absorb calcium and magnesium, and vitamins A, D, E and K. It can even help balance cholesterol levels. MCT oil is the pure medium chain fatty acids from coconut oil.
Use coconut oil in place of any other fats or oils. Perfect for frying, stir-frying and baking as well as in smoothies or shakes. MCT Oil is best used in smoothies, shakes or as a cold oil for dressing. When selecting a good coconut oil, go for organic, virgin, cold pressed varieties.
There is a variety of uses for coconut oil apart from cooking, for example ayurvedic teeth pulling, or many cosmetic routines (makeup remover, hair conditioner or skin moisturizer). For cooking, you may want to choose a scentless variety, unless you don't mind your baked potatoes with a hint of coconut flavor :)
Cacao beans (aka cocoa beans) beans are used to make chocolate and cocoa butter, or can be eaten raw as nibs (bits of broken beans) or in a powder. Cacao is great source of vitamins, essential fatty acids and fiber. There is no other food with a higher antioxidant value. If you're a true chocolate lover then you will love the real bitter chocolate taste of cacao.
Cacao nibs can be eaten straight from the pot, or added to any desert or snack. The powder is best in smoothies, shakes or deserts and snacks.
Goji berries are a complete protein, packed with antioxidants, Vitamin B1, B2, B6, C E, carotene and 13% high-quality protein - you'll feel good and have more energy. Goji berries contain more vitamin C than oranges! They also contain 19 amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids as well as 21 minerals. All this in one tasty little berry.
Goji berries can be eaten straight from the pot, and the berries or powder can be easily added into many dishes.
Chia seeds have become a very popular super food. You may remember Chia from the Chia Pets craze of the 1980's. We now all know how good these seeds are for us. Chia seeds contain an extremely high amount of Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and vitamin A as well as minerals such as potassium, calcium and zinc. The seeds are packed with antioxidants, and are very high in protein, about 20%, much higher than most seeds and cereals.
Chia seeds can be eaten raw or can be dried and used as a thickener. The seeds can also be added to cereals, salads, yogurt, smoothies and shakes.
Maca is a root vegetable that grows in the Andes at high altitude. It is then dried and milled to make the powder. Maca is a complete source of protein, carbohydrates and fats. It contains many minerals, particularly iron and calcium. It is soon absorbed by the body for an alertness and energy boost. Maca has a sweet taste that mixes very well with cacao.
One or two tablespoons of Maca can be added to many meals, shakes or smoothies.
Chlorella is a freshwater algae which is dried and turned into powder. It contains a good source of protein, high amounts of chlorophyll as well as omega 3 fatty acids and amino acids, all of the B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, magnesium, iron, trace minerals, carbohydrates and a higher amount of protein than meat (per grams of weight). Chlorella is also packed full of antioxidants, zinc and iron which are all great for the immune system. It is often used as part of a detoxification process. Chlorella is the fastest growing crop in the world, it roughly quadruples in size every day.
Chlorella powder is best added to smoothies or shakes.
Healthy Nuts - Almonds, Cashews, Pistashios, Walnuts
All nuts are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. However some are much healthier for you and have extra benefits. Almonds are packed full of high quality protein, approximately 20 grams per 100 grams of almond, and high amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E that may help reduce inflammation and boost brain function. Cashews are extremely rich in good fats like oleic acid, these essential fatty acids can help lower harmful LDL-cholesterol while raising good HDL cholesterol. Pistachios are full of copper as well as good amounts of potassium, manganese, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and selenium, and are very rich is good fats. Walnuts have very high amount of the omega 3 fatty acid alpha linoleic acid (ALA) and can be help to reduce inflammation and oxidation in the body.
Nuts can be easily added to any meal or eaten raw. They are also a staple in many raw food recipes. remember to buy them organic when possible, and without added salt.
Hemp seeds are one of the best plant sources of protein. They have good ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6, as there is often too much omega 6 in our diets. Hemp seeds also contain the rare fatty acid Gamma-linolenic acid, as well as all the 21 essential amino acids. The seeds are also full of vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and copper and high in fibre.
Hemp powder is made from ground hemp seeds that have have the hemp oil extracted, both can be added to smoothies and shakes, whereas hemp seeds can be eaten raw or added to meals, smoothies and shakes. Hemp oil also makes a great salad dressing.
Quinoa is a very healthy, gluten free alternative to for rice, pasta and potatoes. Quinoa are the seeds of the quinoa plant originally from the Andes Mountains. It is often sold as a cereal grain but is not really a cereal and classed as a pseudocereal. It has a low glycemic index and is packed full of protein and a good amount of fibre. Quinoa contains many vitamins and minerals but is especially high is vitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin E and rich in iron, copper, magnesium and phosphorus.
Quinoa can be used to replace rice, pasta or potatoes in any meal.
What are your favorite superfoods, and how do you eat them? Let us know in the comments below!