Nutrition Other

Superfoods: The Cheap and Easy Way

July 12, 2017

Superfoods have been a hot topic, and one that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. For instance, I was recently listening to an episode of the Rich Roll podcast. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he is a completely plant-based ultra-athlete with a pretty remarkable story (more about him here). Anyway, he was interviewing Darin Olein, “superfood hunter and peak nutrition expert.”

Darin is behind the formulation of Shakeology smoothie powders, which are packed with superfoods. He is pretty next-level and gets into how he brings gadgets with him to test water quality wherever he goes in the episode. I’m not saying we have to go that far, but the man definitely walks his talk.

I think Shakeology is great, but at $175 for a 30-day supply, it isn’t exactly what I would call cheap. Neither are all the supplements you can purchase, as great as they are. Don’t get me wrong, I love and use supplements – they definitely have their place. And, all of the exotic super foods you can purchase are equally awesome. BUT there really is something to be said for starting with the basics and the things that EVERYONE can keep in their pantry and consume on a regular basis without a huge time commitment or breaking the bank. So, that’s what I’ma gonna write about here.

What are superfoods, anyway?

It’s pretty simple, really. The dictionary definition is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” So, spinach is a superfood. We don’t necessarily need to be getting all fancy with Chaga mushroom powder and adaptogenic herbs, etc. That said, they can be great for an added boost, and sometime its fun to seek out some super-charged options.

Super-charged superfoods

Chia seeds

Buy Chia Seeds on Amazon

Contains: 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: important for digestion, hair, skin, nails; powerful anti-inflammatory
  • ALA (alpha-linoleic acid): protects against cardiovascular disease, lowers blood pressure, anti-inflammatory
  • Fiber: important for heart health, reducing bad cholesterol, digestion and satiety
  • Calcium: stored in teeth and bones, important for endocrine system and musculoskeletal system
  • Magnesium: necessary for over 300 biological processes, increases energy and promotes sense of calm
  • Iron: helps to produce hemoglobin, prevents anemia
  • Zinc: important for immune function and skin health, anti-inflammatory, may help reduce acne
  • Boron: helps the body utilize other minerals, increases good estrogen levels
  • Vitamin D: important for bone health, reproductive health, and may protect against cancer, diabetes and MS
  • Vitamin E: antioxidant that helps protect against toxins; helps with PMS, reduces cholesterol and cancer risk
  • Mucin: reduces inflammation in digestive tract
  • Quercetin: pigment that reduces inflammation; may reduce cancer, diabetes, asthma and high cholesterol
  • Flavanols: support brain health
  • Chlorogenic Acid: phytochemical that may help control blood sugar and help with weight loss
  • Caffeic Acid: antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Preparation:

I like to mix about 1/3 cup of chia seeds with 1 can of coconut milk, 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup and 1 teaspoon matcha powder. Mix in a bowl and let sit on the counter for five minutes as the chia seeds absorb the moisture. Add some water to thin if needed and then divide into mason jars (will make about 4 servings). You can also freeze the mixture for up to a month. Top with fruit and other seeds to serve.

Pumpkin seeds

Buy pumpkin seeds on Amazon

Contains:

  • Zinc: important for immune function and skin health, anti-inflammatory, may help reduce acne
  • Magnesium: necessary for over 300 biological processes, increases energy and promotes sense of calm
  • Manganese: assists with metabolic activity, helps to build bones and maintain bone health
  • Copper: increases collagen (good for skin), essential for liver, brain, heart, kidneys and skeletal muscle
  • Phytosterols: reduce cholesterol, lower cancer risk and protect skin
  • Vitamin E (in multiple forms): antioxidant that helps protect against toxins; helps with PMS, reduces cholesterol and cancer risk
  • Antioxidants: anti-aging and anti-inflammatory; combat free radicals

Preparation:

I like to sprinkle them on chia pudding, yogurt with granola, and add to salads.

Hemp seeds (hearts)

Buy hemp seeds on Amazon

Contains: 

  • Complete protein: they contain all of the essential amino acids that humans can not make on their own
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: important for digestion, hair, skin, nails; powerful anti-inflammatory
  • GLA (gamma-linoleic acid): may help reduce symptoms of diabetes, allergies and arthritis; may reduce acne
  • Antioxidants: anti-aging and anti-inflammatory; combat free radicals
  • Fiber: important for heart health, reducing bad cholesterol, digestion and satiety
  • Iron: helps to produce hemoglobin, prevents anemia
  • Zinc: important for immune function and skin health, anti-inflammatory, may help reduce acne
  • Vitamin A: protects the skin, important for immune system and reproductive health
  • Phospholipids: important for cell membranes, energy production and storage, blood clotting and protecting antioxidants
  • Phytosterols: reduce cholesterol, lower cancer risk and protect skin
  • Vitamin B1: important for energy production, developing myelin sheaths that protect nerve endings, brain health
  • Vitamin B2: good for skin and hair, important for energy protection, and protecting antioxidants
  • Vitamin B6: helps to produce serotonin and other hormones, supports cardiovascular, digestive and immune health
  • Vitamin D: important for bone health, reproductive health, and may protect against cancer, diabetes and MS
  • Vitamin E: antioxidant that helps protect against toxins; helps with PMS, reduces cholesterol and cancer risk
  • Chlorophyll: protects skin, speeds up wound healing, improves liver detoxification and digestion
  • Calcium: stored in teeth and bones, important for endocrine system and musculoskeletal system
  • Magnesium: necessary for over 300 biological processes, increases energy and promotes sense of calm
  • Sulfur: important for detoxification, blood sugar management and the body’s electron transport system
  • Copper: increases collagen (good for skin), essential for liver, brain, heart, kidneys and skeletal muscle
  • Potassium: helps maintain healthy blood pressure, supports nervous system and healthy electrolyte balance

Preparation:

I sprinkle them over everything: salads, soups, chia pudding, yogurt.

Golden berries (dried)

Buy golden berries on Amazon

Contains:

  • Protein: about two grams per berry
  • Fiber: important for heart health, reducing bad cholesterol, digestion and satiety
  • Vitamin A (45% DV): protects the skin, important for immune system and reproductive health
  • Vitamin C: boosts immune system, boosts progesterone, helps maintain skin elasticity, helps with detoxification
  • Vitamin B1: important for energy production, developing myelin sheaths that protect nerve endings, brain health
  • Vitamin B2: good for skin and hair, important for energy protection, and protecting antioxidants
  • Vitamin B6: helps to produce serotonin and other hormones, supports cardiovascular, digestive and immune health
  • Polyphenols: reduce inflammation in the body and may even reduce fever!

Preparation:

I like to snack on dried golden berries on their own or mixed with raw walnuts or raw almonds. I will also sprinkle them on my morning chia pudding or yogurt and granola.


Featured image: Brenda Godinez on Unspash

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