Holisticole's Favourite Superfoods
We've all heard the term 'superfood' by now, it's 2016 and everyone and their dog is talking about superfoods, superfoods, superfoods!
But it's not just a trendy name, it's a term to describe certain foods that are 'super' dense with awesome nutrients that support health and well-being, along with having unique preventative properties.
There are quite a few "superfoods" out there, but these are some of my favourites, due to their particular traits.
Cacao is the seed from a fruit, not to be confused with "cocoa", which is a heated, sweetened and refined version. Like cocoa, cacao is CHOCOLATE. How is chocolate a superfood? Well before we stripped it of it's nutrient, paired it with GMO sugar, soy lecithin and other additives, raw cacao contained superpowers. Raw cacao in the form of beans, nibs, powder, butter and paste have over 300 nutrients. It is one of the leading sources for antioxidants, it is thought to have protective effects in cardiovascular health, it also contains high levels of magnesium plus iron and chromium, it can help elevate your mood and energy levels!
This healthy source of fat contains plant-based saturated fat and is made up primarily of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), this type of fat is converted to energy in the body... & not into fat! Coconut oil also contains Lauric Acid which may help reduce bacteria, fungi and viruses in the body. It can support heart health, metabolism, cognitive function, skin, hair and so much more!
Organic Extra-Virgin, Cold-Pressed Oil can be used in recipes to replace butter and is suitable for all high-heat cooking.
Hemp Seeds & Oil
This seed is a complete protein source which is rare among plant-based proteins, hemp contains the branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s), also known as leucine, isoleucine and valine which work to repair muscles and build lean body mass. Hemp also contains the perfect ratio of essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 in a 3:1 ratio along with the omega-3 Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) which can be converted to EPA "anti-inflammatory" and DHA “brain food” which supports cognitive function and overall brain power. Lastly, all the carbohydrates in hemp are fibre, so this is a low-carb choice!
Hemp products should be purchased in their raw form, should be kept in the fridge and kept in a light-proof bottle, jar or bag. Add hemp hearts on top of your salads, eggs, pancakes, stir-fry's & smoothies. Oil can be taken on a spoon or mixed with maple syrup to top pancakes or to be made into a salad dressing. Avoid heating hemp or exposing it to light for long periods of time (don't keep it in a mason jar) as this degrades the omega-3 content.
Fermented food contains beneficial bacteria as a result of the preservation process. These foods have enhanced digestibility and an increased amount of vitamins! Fermentation can also create vitamin B12 as well as digestive enzymes and anti-carcinogenic properties. Lactic acid, which is a product of fermentation promotes the growth of healthy intestinal flora which builds a healthy gut and strong immune system.
Fermented foods are sauerkraut, kimchi, beat kavas, sourdough, kombucha, yogurt, kefier, water kefier and many more!
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Shiitake mushrooms contain strong compounds having the natural ability to discourage inflammation, tumors, "bad" bacteria, harmful viruses, and, ironically, fungus! B vitamins such as B2, B5 and B6 are part of the package, providing energy by breaking down fats, carbs, and proteins.
Shiitake mushrooms are completely unique with their nutrient content. They are an excellent source of dietary Copper, a metallic element that the body cannot synthesis, so it must be obtained from foods. Pantothenic acid and selenium are other prominent nutrients in shiitake mushrooms, and lastly, Ergothioniene, a potent antioxidant that inhibits oxidative stress is found in shiitake.
Mushrooms must be cooked when consuming, as they cannot be digested when raw due to their beta glucan content.
Sprouts & Micro Greens
When a seed sprouts for a new life, we benefit from the vital living energy. This is a very nutrient dense form of plants to consume! Sprouts are rich in enzymes and other nutrients, plus they do not have any “anti-nutrients” present that can block the absorption of minerals and vitamins!
- Sprouting is the practice of germinating seeds by allowing them to soak for several hours and then allowing them to sit, (while rinsing them daily) until they begin to grow for “new life”. It takes 4-6 days to grow sprouts and the entire seed and sprout can be consumed.
Microgreens are 1-3 inches in length and consist of the plants first 2-4 leaves, these "sprouts" are clipped from the soil that they grow in. It takes about 1-2 days to grow microgreens, and they can be grown in any climate, during any season.
You can find such a large variety in sprouts and microgreens, include them in smoothies, salads and almost any dish!
Coming from the Himalayan Mountains, sources of Himalayan Pink Salt are over 250 million years old. It is believed to be the purest form of salt available, containing 84 nutrients! This pure form of salt has not been contaminated with the toxins or pollutants that are now present in the sea. Minerals found in Himalayan Salt play a role in the regulation of water content in your body, healthy cell formation, respiratory health, muscle activity and blood pressure regulation, particularly when combined with drinking pure water!
These red berries are a total super fruit. Rich in beta-carotene which is a precursor to vitamin A, these berries also contain vitamin C, B1, B2 and high levels of antioxidants. Include these into your smoothies, cereals and trail mixes, they can be rehydrated by soaking them in water and leaving them in the fridge to make an easy, juicy addition to many foods!
This root vegetable grows in the highest altitude regions of Peru, where it is praised for its adaptogenic properties as it is able to adapt to harsh growing conditions. Maca works the same in your body, by adapting to what you need, it is able to increase energy, endurance, strength, fertility and libido. It also contains protein and fibre! This Andean superfood can be added into smoothies, baking and even salad dressings.
Look for gelatinized maca powder when buying, since this root vegetable is high in starch, gelatinization (heating over low-heat) begins breaking down the starch so it can be more easily digested.
Bee Pollen contains B vitamins and all the essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein! Honey in its raw/organic form is rich in many minerals, antioxidants and enzymes. Other bee products, which include Propolis and Royal Jelly, may offer benefits to our immune system and energy levels.
Manuka honey, from New Zealand has the highest anti-bacterial properties due to a natural active compound, Hydrogen Peroxide, and works wonders for healing surface wounds, improving immunity and resolving troubles with the digestive tract.
Raw honey should never be heated or used in cooking/baking, or it will lose its benefits. To enjoy, stir honey into a steeped (not boiling!) tea, or take on a spoon! Manuka Honey is the only form of honey that can withstand warmer temperatures without compromising it's benefit.