Superfoods certainly received their fair share of attention, and then it seemed everyone started rolling their eyes, deeming each one a “fad”. My opinion is that they are great additions to a healthy diet, and can add variety and colour to your plate. I think there are a lot of healthy “regular” foods that can be classed as superfoods, but below are some more exotic bits and pieces to jazz up your meals and enhance nutrition.
There is definitely no harm in adding them, and there is plenty of good! Most are extremely high in antioxidants. Why does everyone go on about antioxidants? They are our protectors… Exposure to the sun, pollution and toxins as well as an unhealthy diet and stress can all release free radicals in the body. Antioxidants reverse the effects of these aggressive agents! Protecting our cells so that we can fight infection and reduce the effects of ageing.
Some of these superfoods, like chia and cacao, are great natural replacements for things a clean diet cuts out – like chocolate and pudding! So they certainly have their place and are worthy additions. Here are just a few of my favourites that I use regularly. If you haven’t tried one of them, give it a go this week!
- Chia seeds
Rich in soluble fibre, chia seeds lubricate the colon and assist with bowel movements and can provide relief for IBS symptoms. They are also full of essential fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. They have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and calming effects on the body. It can be difficult for the body to digest the seeds, so it is recommended that seeds be soaked prior for several hours. 3 tbsp to 1 glass of liquid works well.
- Ground flaxseeds
Also known as linseeds, they are high in Alpha-Linolenic Acid, fibre and lignans. Lignans are phytoestrogens that adapt to what our body needs i.e. if we are low in estrogen they boost it, whereas if we have excessive estrogen they reduce it! They also have powerful antioxidant effects. Note, ground as opposed to whole flax are more digestible.
Use: Stirred into porridge, bircher, in baking, on top of salads, yoghurt or in smoothies.
Raw cacao powder contains nearly four times the antioxidant power of blueberries! It has long been used as an aphrodisiac and is rich in a plethora of vitamins and minerals – protein, calcium, carotene, B vitamins, sulfur and magnesium. Studies indicate it boosts serotonin, elevating mood and inducing feelings of contentment and relaxation, as well as having a cholesterol lowering effect. It is much more beneficial than its processed sugar-laden cousin, cacoa, but be sure to get it RAW.
Use: in place of cocoa powder – make a delicious hot choccy, a chocolate smoothie, chocolate mouse, raw chocolate, baking, breakfast oats or bliss balls. Cacao nibs make great choc chip replacements.
Spirulina is an alkalizing, nutrient dense, protein rich powder containing a broad sprucrtum of vitamins and minerals. It is rich in vitamin E, iron, magnesium, chlorophyll and Gamma-Lenolenic Acid. It should be noted that although spirulina is often advertised as containing vitamin B12, the bioavailability of its B12 is limited and it should not be relied upon as a rich source. It has antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and probiotic effects.
Use: in smoothies, on its own in water or with fresh juice, in raw desserts or bliss balls.
- Psyllium husk
Fibre, Fibre, fibre! It contains both soluble and insoluble fibre to help keep you regular and assist your body with eliminating toxins. Adequate fibre intake is essential for not only digestion and excretion however blood sugar control, cardiovascular health, weight loss and maintenance, skin health and appetite control. Additionally, it acts as a prebiotic to help nourish beneficial bacteria in the gut, which assists you further with digestion and absorption of food.
Dried maca root powder is from Peru and has an impressive nutrient content: it is full of protein, fibre, calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine and potassium. It has historically been used to enhance libido and create an aphrodisiac effect! It is also associated with improved hormone regulation, menopausal symptoms and fertility, reduced fatigue and strengthened endurance and energy levels.
Use: in bliss balls, baking or in smoothies.
Try my Choc Mousse Supercharge Smoothie to incorporate them all, plus some everyday heros (avocado, nuts!)!!
Vanilla or chocolate protein powder (grass-fed whey isolate or vegan pea/brown rice protein)
2 tbsp cacao
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1 tbsp psylium husk
1 tsp spirulina
1 tsp maca powder
1 tbsp stevia
1 cup coconut water or almond milk
½ cup ice
Optional: ½ raw zucchini and/or handful spinach
**Approx 28-36g of protein in this delicious shake and over 12 grams of fiber!