Co-written with Sam Poccia, Nutrition Enthusiast
The word “superfood” has become part of our popular food culture, but what does it mean and what is a true “superfood?”
Superfoods are deemed to be of high nutritional density because they contain over a dozen unique properties.1 As a result, they are classified as both food and medicine because they have elements of both. Superfoods are plant based and naturally exceed our bodies requirements for protein, vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids and more. Below is a list of five of these superfoods, with a short description of what it is, why it’s important and how you can incorporate it into your daily lifestyle.
Good news for the chocolate lovers: some types of chocolate can be good for you. Specifically, raw cacao powder, define. Cacao originates from the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree located in the Americas. Cacao is high in antioxidants called polyphenols, which is a compound in our body that is said to fight against harmful free radicals.2 Proposed benefits of cacao powder include improved cardiovascular health. 3 Introduce cacao powder into your diet by simply adding a scoop of the raw powder into a smoothie, or baking with cacao powder and cacao nibs. 4
Banana Smoothie with Cacao Powder:
- 1 medium banana, frozen
- 1 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 scoop raw cacao powder
- Sprinkle of cinnamon, optional
- Put all ingredients into a blender, add ice and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
An increasingly popular superfood is baobab powder, and for good reason. This fruit powder has one of the highest nutritional profiles of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and calcium. There have been many scientific studies to support this and they show that baobab pulp is rich in vitamin c and consuming 40 grams of it a day will cover the majority of your needed daily intake.5 The leaves of baobab are high in calcium, as well as good quality proteins.5 Baobab comes from a tree located mainly in Africa. Baobab powder can easily be added to smoothies and is perfect for baking and as a thickener because it doesn’t change the flavor of what you’re making.6
The goji is a native Chinese shrub with bright red berries whose proponent believes it can help protect the liver, boost the immune system and improve circulation. 7 There have been studies done on goji berries that find they can be beneficial in age-related disease and cancer because of their immune system boosting properties.7 You can find them as dried berries at your local grocery store or snack on them right from the bag. Goji berries can also be used in homemade trail mix, or to make tea. Simply heat up water, add goji berries to the water, let them soak for about 10 minutes, and then enjoy the tea. You can also add goji berries when cooking into whole grain, high fiber muffins or scones. 8
Goji Berry Trail Mix:
- 1 cup of goji berries
- ¾ cup of slices almonds
- ¾ unsalted peanuts
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup whole wheat pretzels, optional
- ½ cup dark chocolate or cacao nibs, optional
- Mix everything together and season it to your liking, using either a pinch of sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg or other flavors.
Acai berries are a fruit that comes from acai palm trees found in the rainforests of South America. This berry is known for its many health benefits, including helping with weight loss, high cholesterol, and skin appearance among other things. Acai is high in antioxidants, fiber and heart-healthy fats. Research studies have proven that acai can protect your body from harmful radicals, such as peroxyl, and maintain health. 9 You can find acai in many juices, add the powder form of the berry to a smoothie, or even find it in certain ice creams. A popular form of acai is to eat acai bowls, which is a mixture of acai powder or smoothie pack with frozen fruits, a little almond milk and topped with granola or fresh fruit. 10
The chia seed is a small seed that packs a big nutritional punch. Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, which is a part of the mint family. These seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, protein and minerals. Chia seeds are extremely diverse in how you can consume them as well. Add the raw seeds to a smoothie, oatmeal, or salad. You can also soak the seeds in water overnight and they will turn into a gel-like substance. You can then use chai seeds in baking as a healthy alternative binding ingredient. 11
There are many different superfoods out there
Superfoods can have an array of nutritional benefits, although scientific studies are still being conducted on each of these superfoods to continue testing their exact health potential
Superfoods are easy to find in your local grocery store and even easier to incorporate into your meals
Be sure to mix up the amounts and types of superfoods you do consume. Just like anything else, too much of one thing can begin to have negative implications.
1 Superfoods on Google Books