Superfoods - new age hype or real health benefits?

March 18, 2015

 

 

This week my Instagram contest is all about winning an exclusive recipe from my upcoming cookbook and a superfoods hamper. You may be excited to win something, but might be wondering what superfoods are? Very good question! 

In my nutrition coaching sessions, I like to bust myths every time rather than prescribing you a “diet”. I like for you to walk away with new knowledge about nutrition, so that you yourself can make the most informed and healthy decisions for yourself, rather than following a trend blindly. Superfoods is one of those topics which sparks a lot of controversy. You have probably seen them advertised in the weirdest places. What once was “fat-free” or “gluten-free” is now becoming “with superfoods”. It’s a term made up by clever marketing teams of food companies, trying to sell you something as healthy when it may not be. The reality is, though, that superfoods are actually something real and can have real health benefits for you. 

Superfoods are classified as food that has extreme more nutrients than our average healthy food. When you google superfood, you will find lists of the top 5 to the top 100 superfoods. Look at the list of 100, and you will see “normal” foods such as blueberries, yogurt, and chicken on there. While these may all be ingredients for a healthy diet, they are not technically real superfoods. Most superfoods may be things you have never heard of or that sound weird. They are so dense in nutrients, like vitamins or minerals, that you only need a very small amount a day to fill your need. Here are my favorite three: 

 

 

Maca

Maca is a staple in the Peruvian Andes and is the ginger or ginseng of South America. It’s a root which increases energy, endurance, strength, and libido. Maca is a complete protein, which means it has all essential amino acids that are usually more difficult to find outside of meat products. Maca helps to stabilize hormones especially if you suffer from PMS related symptoms. I use maca almost daily in my morning smoothies to get my kick of life energy. You can find it at most health food stores in a powder form, and one bag will last you up to 6 months since you only need 1 teaspoon at a time. 

 

 

Goji berries (wolfberries)

Living in China, goji berries are one of the easiest, most accessible superfood you could think of. Every taxi driver has them in their tea, every tiny fruit shop sells them. They have been used in Chinese medicine for over 5000 years to build longevity, strength, and your vital life energy - qi. While there are many health benefits, I love them for two particular reasons. Firstly, they are very rich in iron, which can often be a missing mineral for vegetarians. Goji berries help to build and rejuvenate your blood. Oxidation in the blood caused by stress and bad diet gets reversed through goji berries, slowing down aging of your body and cleans your blood. Secondly, I often use goji berries with clients who have problems with stabilizing their blood sugar, even early stage diabetes. The insulin response, which is often disrupted with our modern diet, is adjusted by the use of goji berries. It’s like magic! While they tend to be slightly bitter in their very dried, shriveled up state, if you soak them in water to cook in porridge, add to energy balls or granola bars, or boil them into a tea, you will enjoy them just as much as I do! 

 

 

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are everywhere these days and I am pretty sure you have come across them in one way or another. They are added so smoothies, granolas, baked goods, and sometimes even used in dips. I personally love chia seeds to make desserts like puddings. I will share my favorite recipes with you, I promise! If you can’t be bothered to make anything with them, you can sprinkle them on everything: salads, dips, stir fries, smoothies, granolas, yogurt, take your pick! 

Chia seeds are very high in omega - 3 fatty acids, only found in a handful of other plant based foods and fish. They are my favorite nutrients when it comes to taking care of your skin, hair, and nails. On top of that, omega 3 fats are used in your body to clean up your arteries from any clogging bad diet, pollution and stress can have on your body. 

 

 

While these may be superfoods, I would never advise anyone to live on these. You only need very small amounts on a daily basis to get your kick of nutrients. There is no need to go overboard and add them to everything you eat. A handful a day will keep the doctor away!

 

 

 

 

 

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