This was a question asked by one of my readers and it is a GREAT question.
Over the past few years, we have been bombarded with “super foods.” So much so that it has left many scratching their heads, wondering what each superfood is, how to eat them, and if superfoods are even necessary in our diets.
So what are superfoods?
Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods that offer enormous health benefits in just a SMALL amount. Think about the meals and snacks you eat on a daily basis. Are they nutrient-dense? Do you have to eat a lot of whatever you are eating to feel a difference or to get the vitamins and minerals you need per day?
When you eat superfoods, you will notice a difference in how you feel and more importantly, how you look.
Here are the 10 most popular super foods:
I’ve written about most of these in previous blog posts but have compiled them all here for easy access. Here is some info on each:
MACA POWDER – I bought this earlier this year after reading that it helps with energy, fertility, stamina, libido, anemia, and menstrual cramps. Rather than introducing hormones into your body, maca allows your endocrine system to regulate itself naturally. Sprinkle a 1/4 teaspoon of maca powder in liquids either hot or cold. That means, smoothies, teas, coffee, or juices. The maca powder may clump together in liquid (even in hot water). I find blending it helps smooth it out. Take it regularly until you feel the benefits (ie. more energy, increased libido, decrease in PMS, decrease in post-menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes). It is recommended to take maca 3 months straight and then to take a one month break off of maca to allow your body . Click here for more detailed information on maca. And click here for my previous blog post on maca. You can buy maca powder here on Amazon:
GOJI BERRY – I also bought this earlier this year but realized that I’ve tried it many times in Chinese soups! It’s great for snacking, kinda like raisins. Click here for my previous post on goji berries. You can eat them whenever you want and as much as you want. You can buy goji berries here on Amazon:
SPIRULINA – I have not tried this superfood yet. Mainly because of the potential side effects that I have read about it. Fever, gas, breakouts, itchy skin, sleepiness, and/or temporary restlessness. I tend to have whatever side effect is common in medications. I have not read about other super foods having such potential adverse reactions, hence my reason for not having tried spirulina yet. Spirulina is thought to help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and stroke risk. It is also believed to reduce cancer risk and spirulina has more protein than red meat! Spirulina can be contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins, so make sure you buy spirulina from a reputable source. For all these potential dangers, I have decided not to try spirulina.
BLUE-GREEN ALGAE – Spirulina is a form of blue-green algae. It is essentially cyanobacteria that you find often on top of lakes. Both are rich in vitamins A, C, E and the B complex vitamins like B12 and B6. Again this is a superfood I have not tried yet. But you can read more about these two here at Natural News.
ALOE – Now aloe is a superfood I have tried in both plant form and in liquid form. I first tried aloe in a drink I bought from an Asian supermarket and then at a health food store. It is a clear drink and you can taste and feel little specks of aloe as you are drinking! Comes in different flavors. But you gotta watch out for the sugar content AND some aloe drinks contain high fructose corn syrup!!! AS IF?!! Aloe is anti-inflammatory (key term in ALL goals of health), anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and a great antioxidant. You can buy an actual aloe vera plant and use the aloe in the stalks to put on burns, scars, and cuts. It can also help with rashes and psoriasis. According to the Mayo Clinic, aloe may help lower blood glucose levels and reduce the risk of lung cancer. As with anything new in your diet, I would gradually introduce it into your body. Start with 1 ounce a day first.
HEMP SEEDS – Interestingly enough, ancient Chinese medicine texts indicate hemp seeds were used to heal areas of chi (qi) and revitalize blood flow in the body. Hemp seeds contain all 8 essential amino acids (essential amino acids are those your body cannot make on its own but need). For those of you looking for other protein options, hemp seeds are a great alternative! And they are easy to digest and the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is 3:1 which is really GOOD in food-nerd language . So if you can’t really stomach flax seeds, hemp seeds are a good option too. Recommended intake is about 3 tablespoons a day.
BEE POLLEN – Bee pollen comes from the pollen that collect on the bodies of bees. It may also include bee saliva. If you have pollen allergies, I would consult with a physician before trying bee pollen, in case of an allergic reaction. Bee pollen is thought to help with alcoholism, asthma, some allergies, and can enhance athletic performance by increasing energy and endurance. You can take 1 tablet a day (500 mg) or 1 tablespoon a day (5000 mg), depending on how your body reacts.
RAW HONEY – Now this superfood is something ALL of you have tried! It is a natural sweetener that can help provide a natural boost of energy before a workout or in the middle of a workday! It is thought to help with allergies. You can add a teaspoon everyday to your tea and by doing so, will help minimize your allergies. Make sure to buy local raw honey. Do not feed to babies because their digestive systems are not quite developed enough, which can cause botulism in babies. Click here for more info on botulism.
ROYAL JELLY – Royal jelly is a milky secretion produced by worker honey bees and used to nurture queens bees, hence the name. Royal jelly has been used for asthma, hay fever, insomnia, PMS, ulcers, skin disorders, and anti-aging. As with anything new in your diet, particularly superfoods and supplements, start off in small doses to see if you are allergic. Again, always consult with your doctor before starting a regimen with any of these superfoods. Royal jelly comes in different forms, but I recommend the natural, frozen form versus tablets. Take 1/2 teaspoon a day with food.
Where to buy all of these superfoods? Your local health food store! And your local farmer’s markets will likely carry local organic raw honey and local royal jelly. Hope this post helps demystify superfoods for you! :)
If you want to read more about super foods, David Wolfe is the guru on this topic. You can buy his book here on Amazon: