8 Superfoods You Should Include In Your Diet
What is a Superfood?
Superfoods are foods that are extremely nutrient dense and have strong antioxidant properties. A a true superfood has a high Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Score (ORAC ), and the higher the ORAC score the stronger the food’s antioxidant ability.
Here are 8 Superfoods that you should try to include in your diet today:
Hemp is an amazing protein source. Hemp seeds contains 25 grams of protein per 100 grams and are equal to or higher in protein than almost all meat and fish. Hemp also contains an ideal balance of essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. ‘Essential’ means these cannot be created by the human body and must be a part of our diet. This is why I have included hemp seeds into y diet as one of my primary sources of protein and essential fats. The taste is also quite pleasant while slightly nutty with a creamy flavour that can be added to both savoury or sweet foods.
There are many benefits of hemp seeds, such as:
• Burns fat
• Stimulates energy production
• Nurtures hair skin and nails
• Is a complete protein
• Has a natural taste
• Is a fantastic food for all ages, including young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women
• Reduces inflammation
You can get complete protein from hemp seeds alone, just by sprinkling some on your toast, adding to your smoothies, topping your cereals, porridge, soups and salads with them, or even making milk or cheese.
Goji Berries are packed packed full with antioxidants and powerful medicinal properties. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, iron, fibre, vitamin A, and zinc, and contain all eight essential amino acids.
Goji Berries can be easily added to snacks and meals - toss them in a batch of granola, add soaked goji berries to a smoothies, use in baked goods such as sweet breads or muffins, or swirl them into your coconut yoghurt or oatmeal.
Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) is a superfood seed (even though it often occupies a similar role to grains such as rice in dishes) and a great plant-based source of protein that is grown in South America and formed a staple diet for the Incas.
Quinoa is loaded with protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa also does not contain gluten free so it is suitable for those with ceoliac disease and gluten intolerance, and is an alternative to starchy grains.
Some known benefits of quinoa include:
- High fibre content
- May help in weight loss
- May help in balancing blood sugar
- May improve gut health (acts as prebiotic)
- A source of antioxidants
Good source of iron
Cacao is probably one of my most favourite superfoods. Cacao is a sacred plant that is found in Central and South America and it’s seeds are used for the making of cacao beans, cacao butter and chocolate. Cacao has been used for thousands of years for medicinal, spiritual and ceremonial purposes, and is still being used in ceremony to this day.
It is very high in antioxidants and contains minerals such as iron, manganese, calcium and magnesium (in fact, it’s highest in magnesium of all foods).
Cacao has also been shown to increase serotonin in the brain (the happy hormone) which overall leads to better mood, improved sleep, and a more positive, happy attitude.
Real cacao can taste quite bitter, especially for those that have never had it before. I love to add cacao powder in sweet treats or as a warm cosy drink with some sweetener such as honey or coconut sugar.
Chia seeds are one of the first superfoods that I discovered. I have used them over the years to add into my morning smoothies or oatmeal, or simply by creating a chia seed pudding with some fruit added as a tasty and delicious healthy treat.
Chia seeds are loaded with fibre and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids for great mental health and brain function as well as magnesium, calcium, B vitamins (B1, B2, B2), and trace minerals such as zinc or potassium.
SpirulinaSpirulina is a blue-green micro-algae and one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods available.
Spirulina is often found in powder form, or tablets and capsules. You can use it in smoothies or sprinkle it over your foods (such as yoghurt and berries) to increase your nutritional content.
You can also find ‘blue spirulina’ that is extracted from green spirulina. While many may think that blue spirulina also holds the same amount of nutrients and vitamins as the popular green spirulina, this is simply not true. However, blue spirulina is a great source of antioxidants and still contains many benefits.
I’m a big fan of Maca and I’ve used it over the years mainly for it’s hormone balancing properties.
Maca is a nutritious root vegetable from high in the Andes in Peru used by Incas for more than 1500 years to increase endurance, mental clarity, increase libido, reduce physical and mental stress, balance hormonal irregularities, alleviate symptoms of menopause, chronic fatigue, depression and stress, as well as boost fertility. There are almost 60 phytochemicals in a single root with a brain powering amino acid profile and includes minerals, fatty acids, a full array of vitamins, proteins and more.
Maca is a hormone balancer and an adaptogen (which is a food that boosts the body’s ability to deal with stress and disease).
Maca usually comes in a powder which can be added to smoothies, warm drinks such as coffee or cacao, or even in foods such as oatmeal.
You’ve probably heard of the famous Acai berry due to the popularity of ‘Acai bowls’ on social media in recent times.
Acai berries are an antioxidant powerhouse and contain fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. They also contain healthy fats, are high in amino acids (19 different amino acids are found in the Acai berry), and are a rich source of fibre.
The health benefits of the Acai berry make it quite clear why they have been called a superfood. Some of these benefits include:
- Improves heart health
- Full of antioxidants
- Enhances brain function
- Boosts energy and performance
- Helps maintain healthy skin
It can be difficult to find Acai berries on their own due to them spoiling within 24 hours after being picked if they are left out and not dried. You can however find frozen Acai puree, Acai powder and other Acai supplements.
The most common way to use Acai is of course blended into a smoothie or smoothie bowl by adding frozen Acai puree or Acai powder to create your own at home ‘Acai bowl’. I love blending together frozen bananas with a frozen Acai pack and adding apple juice, coconut water or water, pouring it into a bowl and added granola or muesli topped with other in season fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit or passionfruit.
The perfect Summer treat!
The good news is that there are also many every day foods, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices that are also labelled 'superfoods'. In fact, many are probably in your fridge or kitchen cupboard right now. Common foods, fruits and vegetables like blackberries, kale, almonds, salmon, blueberries and avocados all fall into the superfood category too.
Other superfoods that are gaining popularity and packed full of nutrients are:
- Bone broth
- Maqui Berry
- Camu Camu
I am personally a big fan of the supergreen superfood powders like spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and barley grass to assist with alkalisation and cleansing. Acai, Lucuma and Maca are also amazing to help with energy production. Turmeric and Manuka honey are also my favourites when it comes to boosting immune function and fighting bacteria and viruses. And lastly, hemp seeds and chia seeds are great to help with satiety and to increase the protein content of a smoothie - extra bonus is they are also high in essential fatty acids to help aid in healthy skin, hair and nails.