Best Super-foods for Health and Homeostasis
Updated: Nov 25, 2018
Seems like the media touts a new super-food every month. Here are some tried and true options you can easily add to many of your salads, smoothies, juices, or prepared meals.
This blue-green algae is one of the most nutritionally complete foods with vitamins and minerals not found in the traditional daily diet. It's loaded with Beta Carotene and is a complete protein containing all amino acids including GLA (gamma linolenic acid) which has shown promise in reducing neuropathy in diabetes. Spirulina contains Vitamins A,B,C,E,K, and minerals such as potassium, calcium, chromium (good for regulating blood sugar), copper, iron, and Magnesium (which improves heart and colon health). Spirulina has also been shown to reduce inflammation and increase immune response.
Adding anywhere from a Tsp to Tbsp or more to your smoothies is so easy or you can sprinkle lightly on any salad.
This super food is also in the algae family and may rival spirulina as one of the healthiest substances on earth. It too is high in carotenoids and leutins which aid in macular degeneration and have been shown to aid in prevention of cancers, and type II diabetes. It is rich in similar vitamins and minerals as with spirulina, although is contains more protein than an Ounce of Steak! It contains the healthy fat oleic acid and aids in detoxification and hormone balance. This has a strong earthy flavor so I recommend either taking a tsp in water, juice or smoothies.
With 8 essential amino acids and healthy fatty acids maca packs a punch! Aside from its many vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber this ancient food has been shown to help in hormone balance which decreases menopausal symptoms, increases energy and...libido.
Another food with a sweet earthy flavor, I recommend starting small with a tsp added to smoothies and salads. I have grown to love this flavor and I notice the increase in sustainable energy it provides without the jittery coffee or cortisol rush.
Speaking of energy without jitters, raw cacao powder will give you the boost to get you through the afternoon without sleepless nights. This anti-inflammatory powerhouse also stimulates chemicals in your body that relate to feelings of pleasure, while adding nutritionally to your health with fiber, iron, manganese. Cacao has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, decrease blood pressure, and cholesterol. Cacao powder has been shown slightly more effective over cacao nibs and lacks the bitter flavor. I add this to not only green smoothies, but its an amazing treat when made with almond or coconut milk, banana, and some nut butter. Cinnamon is also a nice complement to this and my nest super food!
A powerful spice loaded with antioxidants and known to act as a potent anti-inflammatory. It is known for reducing blood sugar levels and has shown promising results in prevention of cancer in daily consumption. In addition, is has been used for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimers.
As you know this tastes delicious and aside from smoothies, I use this when sauteing onions, veggies, and add to soups and stews.
Ground flax seed meal can be added to almost anything. These are very nutrient dense and loaded with antioxidants. The high Omega-3 content has been shown to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol into cells lowering the risk of heart disease. The high Lignan content has been shown to lower the risk of several types of cancer along with their ability to balance hormones. Their high fiber and protein content helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels and aids in weight loss. Plus, this power house has anti-inflammatory properties and lowers blood pressure. Sprinkle a tablespoon in your salads, smoothies, or just add some diluted/cran water for a long-life cocktail!
Similar to Flax, hemp is high in plant based protein with a complete set of amino acids. They are easy to digest and are well absorbed by cells to use for nutrients. They contain essential fatty acids as do flax seeds aiding in cardiovascular health and have anti-inflammatory properties
Chia seeds are another good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, iron, and calcium. High-fiber diets have been shown to help with weight loss as well as decrease the prevalence in flare-ups of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier to pass, which also help with detox. Again, they lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and aid in cardiovascular health.
Mixed with water, they can replace egg in vegan cooking. When soaked overnight in your favorite milk alternative, cinnamon, dash of stevia and/or fruit they make a nutrient rich breakfast.
Reishi mushroom is used for boosting the immune system, fighting viral infections such as the flu (influenza), swine flu, and avian flu; lung conditions including asthma and bronchitis; heart disease and contributing conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol; kidney disease; cancer; and liver disease. Reishi also have adaptogens which help the body maintain equilibrium during stress and realigns the nervous system. You can purchase various mushrooms tinctures or capsules with a variety of several types of healing fungi!
Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few. The unique fragrance and flavor of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol. Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It's has a powerful flavor so remember a little goes a long way!
Turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence. Science has shown it contains powerful medicinal compounds called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. This is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, and simply using the spice in foods will likely not give you the effect you need, although using supplements will help. It also helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%.
Curcumin is also fat soluble, so it may be a good idea to take it with a fatty meal. Tumeric has been shown to lower the risk of Brain diseases such as Alzheimers and lowers blood pressure and heart disease risks as well as lowers risk of certain cancers. Recent studies show promise in the treatment of arthritis and depression. This amazing superfood can be used as stated above as a spice in many foods or can also be taken in capsule form, just be sure you are purchasing from a reputable source.
Many of the health benefits of cayenne pepper are attributed to the ingredient capsaicin. The pepper contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese, and flavonoids. This spice is known to increase metabolism, decrease hunger and increase digestion all of which will aid in weight loss and overall health. It has also shown to aid in healing of various skin conditions such as psoriasis and can be used as a topical pain reliever (not for open wounds). It is easy to add to foods such as salads, eggs,
marinades, sauces, and soups.
ACV benefits include weight loss, reduced cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes. It is also an ancient folk remedy, and has been used for various household and cooking purposes. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar for wound cleaning over two thousand years ago.
Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels by reducing fasting sugars and sugar levels in high carbohydrate meals, which can be useful for pre-diabetic or type II diabetes. It is a natural food preservative and acts as an antioxidant and antibacterial causing and increased immunity function.
Aside from adding to recipes for salads and dressings, my morning and nightly routine includes a glass of lemon water with a cap full of ACV and tsp. of local wild honey. This may be the most diverse super food on the list!
Using a variety of the powerful foods on this lucky list of 13 will undoubtedly improve your overall health and well-being! For more ideas on how to incorporate into daily foods see my blog on Quick and easy recipes. Cheers to Ultimate Health and Homeostasis!