My Top 12 Everyday Superfoods
While doing Healthy Kitchen Makeovers and nutritional consulting for clients, I’m frequently asked for my personal must-have list for the kitchen – an answer that includes my list of top superfoods. What’s a superfood? One that’s nutrient-dense, containing high levels of antioxidants or healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals that help to protect from cellular damage, and prevent disease.
The following are my top 12 for your kitchen cabinets:
1. Goji Berries
These orange-red tangy berries were native to Tibet and Inner Mongolia, and used by Chinese herbalists for centuries to help boost immunity, and promote eyesight, fertility and circulation. In recent years goji berries have gained so much popularity for their versatile use and reported health benefits that you can now find them on everyday supermarket shelves. Gogis are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants that protect cells from premature aging and damage from drinking, eating fried food, getting too much sun, and general toxins in our environments. Chewy,and sweet in flavor, gogis are great in trail mix, granola, and oatmeal. Look for goji berries dried whole, and in powders to mix with smoothies, and even ready-to-drink beverages.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
This natural cleansing-and-healing elixir due to natural acidity, and a high probiotic
content that alkalines the body. High in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium with natural bacteria-killing powers, ACV is a secret weapon with health-promoting benefits. It’s been known to boost digestion, blood sugar levels, weight loss, and reduce inflammation and pain. The best way to reap the benefits of this ancient remedy is to consume only undistilled, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. This ensures that it still contains the live enzymes and acid, which are the healing components of the vinegar. Search out Apple Cider Vinegar that states, “Organic,” “Unpasteurized,” and “the Mother,” on labels. “Mother” means it includes enzymes and good bacteria (where much of the healing power comes from). For daily health, add 2 teaspoons of ACV to 16 ounces of water, and sip throughout the day, or just make a lovely salad dressing
3. Chia Seeds
This amazing superfood with an abundance of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are a quick and easy-to-use source of protein, healthy fats, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, all rolled into one neat package. Chia seeds are also a wonderful source of protein. Chia seeds also help to modulate blood sugar, which is wonderful news for diabetics. When it comes to fiber in our diets we are all lacking, chia seeds contain about 10 grams of fiber in just two tablespoons. They expand and gel up in water, and they expand in your stomach to make you feel fuller without adding any synthetic fibers to your diet. But the most delicious & fun way to eat chia seeds is chia seed pudding!
4. Fermented foods
Cultures around the world have been enjoying fermented foods like sauerkraut kefir,kombucha, kimchi, miso, yogurt, and pickled onions, squash, cucumbers and other vegetables for centuries. In addition to being pretty tasty, fermented foods contain much-needed probiotics that help balance bad bacteria and promote immunity. Whenever probiotics are mentioned, people think “yogurt.” But in truth you’d have to eat a lot of yogurt to get your recommended allowance of probiotics for the day. Acidophilus is a probiotic strain in yogurt, but only one of the many strains that can benefit your immune system and digestion. Adding pickled and fermented foods to your diet not only adds great flavor – it can also help to reduce indigestion, heartburn, and promote digestion as well as boost overall immunity.
5. Hemp Seeds
Hemp Seeds have an amazing ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Americans consume way too much corn and soy oils which make our omega-3 to omega-6 ratio totally out of wack. That’s why there are products at the store that are fortified with omega-3’s. A better way is to eat foods like hemp seeds that naturally have the perfect balance. Hemp seeds are also high in protein that is easy for your body to digest. I add organic hemp protein to my superfood smoothies & add them to my homemade chocolate superfood treats!
6. Maca Root
Maca Root from Peru is a great supplement to any diet that helps with hormones, libido, menopause and stress. A lot of people don’t realize that when they are stressed that they produce cortisol that can promote fat storage in the body. So, maca can help counter that if you are stressed out, it is an endocrine adaptogen, meaning that it does not contain any hormones, but rather it contains the nutrients necessary to support normal hormone production. It has also been used as a way to increase fertility & libido and it is naturally “high in minerals (calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc), and up to 20 essential fatty acids, lipids, fiber, carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids. Maca is often recommended to those with adrenal fatigue as it nourishes them and reduces stress hormones. Maca can safely be taken in small amounts daily, it’s available in powder and in capsule. The powder can be mixed into smoothies or coffee, it has a nutty malty flavor that is really delicious with raw cacao.
Sprouts are so amazing, and many people don’t realize that mini sprouted versions of their favorite vegetables are sometimes more nutritious that the actual full grown plant. This is one of the cheapest ways to add organic foods to your diet. You can start a little sprout garden in a kitchen window and start growing your own. A sprouted seed, bean or nut has many times the nutritional value than the non-sprouted version. They are the most enzyme-Rich Food You Can Find. Enzymes act as a catalyst for the chemical reactions in our bodies while helping us digest essential nutrients in our food. A sprouted seed, nut or bean has a whopping 43 times the enzyme power when compared to the non-sprouted variety. Sprouts Are Rich In Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll cleanses our blood and detoxifies our system. It has the ability to regenerate our bodies on a cellular and molecular level.
8. Raw Cacao
Raw Cacao can boost your mood, your serotonin and your endorphins. Raw Cacao is jam packed with antioxidants, magnesium, iron, calcium, and a ton of natural bliss nutrients that will keep you, and your taste buds, healthy & happy. Cacao is one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world, with over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries. It’s also the highest plant-based source of iron, is full of magnesium – one of the most deficient minerals in the western world, and has more calcium than cow’s milk. But make sure to read the label carefully before buying. “If you ever see the terms Dutch or alkalized cocoa, that means the powder has been processed, and up to 90 percent of the antioxidants are gone. When you’re buying, choose the raw or non alkalized version, which contains all the phytochemicals and antioxidants.
9. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are so brilliantly orange thanks to their alpha and beta carotene. The body converts these compounds into the active form of vitamin A, which helps keep your eyes, bones and immune system healthy. These phytochemicals also operate as antioxidants, sweeping up disease-promoting free radicals. One medium sweet potato—or about 1/2 cup—provides nearly four times the recommended daily value of vitamin A, plus some vitamin C and B6, potassium, manganese.
This antioxidant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory spice gives curry its distinctive taste. It’s a prominent medicinal tool in ayurveda, the ancient medical tradition that began in India, where turmeric is widely used and the prevalence of the four most-common US cancers is 10 times lower. Researchers attribute part of this to curcumin, a compound gives turmeric its deep golden color, and studies suggest curcumin may protect against cancer and Alzheimer’s and also improve circulation, prevent blood clotting and tame a variety of pains.How to use it: Try cooking with its powdered form or get it in tablet form to increase your consumption. You can also just sprinkle it on top of salads, vegetables or meat.
11. Coconut Oil.
Coconut oil can help bolster your body against viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. It can also boost thyroid function and blood-sugar control as well as aid with digestion, reduce cholesterol and keep weight balanced. How to use it: The oil works in baked goods and with vegetables and pairs well with bitter greens like kale, or use it as part of an onion or garlic sauté or add it to oatmeal, your smoothies or you morning coffee– the possibilities are endless!
Sure, they’re high in fat, but avocados contain healthful monounsaturated fat, which has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. “Avocados aid in blood and tissue regeneration, stabilize blood sugar, and are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant linked to eye and skin health.The potent antioxidants in avocado seeds have been shown to slow down the aging process by rebuilding collagen, repairing cell damage and improving the look and feel of your skin. Avocado are awesome because they can be added to any meal. Mash up some avocados & you have guacamole. Throw a few slices on some chia seed gluten bread, have it as a tasty snack or add it to your morning smoothie!