Health food gurus tout assorted foods for their nutritional properties and potential to cure or mitigate illness. They do not always think about how accessible foods are for the average person, though.
Fruits like mangosteen are not in every produce aisle. Supplement sections in a small town might only include some calcium and multi-vitamins; nothing like the whole foods capsules and green powders available in other, larger locations. What are some more accessible foods and why do nutritionists promote them so emphatically?
What is a Superfood?
Super foods are real foods which contain concentrated amounts of nutrients. These include calcium and other minerals, vitamin C, B vitamins, and omega fatty acids. Some super foods are fruits and almost all of them are plant-based so there is plenty for vegans to choose from. Most of them can be eaten raw too.
How to Choose Super Foods
Firstly, see what is available instead of searching for the most exotic items. Many products grown in your region are full of beneficial properties. If they are local, foods are particularly fresh which enhances their quality and nutritional value. Exotic fruits simply expand your options. Also, select foods which are not genetically modified and organic, if possible.
Your shopping list looks like a balanced diet of fruits and proteins. Salmon, deep green leafy vegetables, berries, and some seeds are excellent sources of nutrients. So are kefir, nutritional yeast, and cocoa powder. Take a closer look at what makes these such excellent foods to select.
Mulberries, raspberries, blueberries, and açai berries are rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C. These are your immune army. They help your body to fight off regular viruses hanging around on door handles and tabletops or floating through the air between people having a conversation.
A concentrated supply of antioxidants could even support a body’s defense against free radicals: cancer-causing cells. Other berries you might try include goji and cranberries. If there are no fresh ones around due to the season or your location, visit your frozen food section and see what they have. Frozen fruit is better than canned fruit because produce is generally frozen before it loses its value.
We are not talking about hot chocolate powder, usually laced with sugar and skim milk powder. Instant hot chocolate powder has been heavily refined and has more in common with flour and table sugar than with cocoa.
If you wondered why raw cocoa costs three or four times as much as Dutch cocoa, raw cocoa is much better for you. Unprocessed cocoa contains an ingredient which helps to control your blood pressure, so it is okay to add a scoop to your morning coffee with a drop of honey so long as you don’t make the drink too sugary or add loads of cream. Cocoa is low in fat and calories and gives food a chocolaty richness.
Seaweed and Leafy Greens
All deep green vegetables are packed with antioxidants, calcium, and iron. Seaweed even contains fatty acids, but you can’t go wrong with kale or spinach either. Most of these are sold in both the general and frozen-produce sections of your shop.
Browse a recipe site for ways to use them. Throw raw leafy greens into salads or used them to make “wraps.” Raw is better than cooked sources, but cooked kale in a soup does not destroy all of its potential to support immunity, bone health, and cell recovery.
Kefir is a Keeper
Yogurt is good for your digestive system but kefir is better. This fermented dairy product supplies a daily dose of good bacteria for your GI tract to run smoothly. It also contains a bit of protein. The best way to eat kefir is to either mix it in a smoothie or add honey and fruit: otherwise, kefir is fairly sour.
Hemp and Chia Seeds
Not sure how to jazz up a bowl of hot cereal or a salad? Sprinkle some crunchy seeds on the dish such as hemp or chia. Both of them contain omega fatty acids to aid in the creation and maintenance of healthy muscles and a functioning nervous system.
Chia also contains fiber, essential for digestion and absorption of nutrients. Another benefit of chia is that, when soaked in water, it becomes a gelatinous which vegans can substitute for eggs in their baking.
Health food stores will sometimes suggest clients with irregular bowel movements try nutritional or brewer’s yeast instead of a fiber supplement. It is much more beneficial since this form of non-leavening yeast contains fiber and protein, plus possibly B12.
A Word on Supplements
If you would rather buy powders or pills after all, perhaps because good fruit is hard to come by, wade in with some caution. Firstly, pick supplements made without organic, GMO ingredients. Choose fair-trade cocoa and fish oil capsules made from wild salmon, not farmed fish. Consider additives like sugar and sweetener, colorants, and preservatives. Ensure none of these is synthetic or will lead to allergic reaction. While the bottle or packet highlights health benefits, ingredients like wheat, dairy, or eggs aren’t always obvious.
Another point to realize is that some health benefits of superfoods are not scientifically proven. Consumers, doctors, or health food vendors claim that this or that ingredient will shrink cancerous tumors or cure fibromyalgia but approach these claims with caution. You won’t do your body any harm by eating more greens or berries, but don’t ride on a wave of false hope either. Conduct your own research and make educated choices.