Superfoods are like the marvel action heroes of the food world.
These special foods go way beyond supplying us with nutrition. Real superfoods furnish us at the level of body, mind and spirit. Eating them regularly means we feel better, we look better, we perform better. We are us – but optimized!
This is a little ‘out there’ but because of the crazy good things they do for levels of mental clarity and your nervous system, superfoods might really help you experience synchronicity (or to put it another way: create a life that lines up with our intentions). If you dig that idea, then you would enjoy this previous post on creating meaningful coincidences.
So what are these foods I am talking about?
Top 10 superfoods
Having received my superfoods education from world’s forefront experts on superfood nutrition, Gabriel Cousens and David Wolfe, I’m a little particular about what I call a superfood (i.e. kale don’t make the cut). Each of my top ten is there because they:
- Offer staggering benefits to your health that far outweigh that offered by other foods.
- Are relatively available (foods aren’t super if you can’t get hold of them).
- Are easy to consume (for the same reason as #2).
Ocean’s gifts – nori, kelp and dulse
Why: Really the main reason that seaweeds (or sea vegetables as they are also known) are superfoods is because of their kick-ass quantities of vital micro-nutrient iodine. Being even mildly deficient in iodine causes fatigue, depression, weakness, low energy and thyroid problems. These symptoms can manifest subtly.
On the more serious side of things, iodine deficiency can result in hypothyroidism.
Basically if you’re keen to avoid thyroid drama, you want to be noshing on some seaweed.
What could be easier than wrapping something awesome like avocado and tomato up in a nori wrap?
Seaweeds are pretty easy to incorporate into your diet across the board. Kelp granules are great sprinkled into salad dressings, and dulse is good in stews and soups. All types provide a satisfying savory (umami) flavour.
Magical mushrooms – reishi, chaga, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, lion’s mane, etc.
What: Not the edible (regular) kind of mushrooms, these are ancient medicinal mushrooms that require an extraction process before they may be consumed.
Why: I have written a devoted post about why I love to supplement my diet with medicinal mushrooms. Briefly, these types of mushrooms act as antioxidants that protect your immune system. An even bigger deal for me is that they offer neuroprotective qualities. Overall, they are great longevity enhancers. Reishi in particular is understood to help combat aging.
I use these types of mushroom in my diet the way other people use nootropics (‘smart drugs’). They offer all of the benefits (boost to mental energy and clarity of thought) and none of the drawbacks (liver and biological side effects, and the adverse effects on nervous system).
How: My favorite way is using Four Sigma Foods’ awesome coffee products. The mushrooms are high quality, they taste great and they are easy to use. My favorites – because of the effects they have on my mental stamina and exercise performance – are lion’s mane and chaga.
The adatogens – ashwagandha, maca and mucuna pruriens
What: Like mushrooms, these three are ‘adaoptogens‘ (adaptogenic substances). Briefly it means that they help to bring your bodily systems into balance.
Why: I have experimented for periods with all three of these and found them powerful for different reasons.
All improve energy levels and help you to regulate sleep if that is an issue for you.
Maca root contains a bomb of protein and has important fertility (and libido) boosting benefits.
Mucuna pruriens helps to improve dopamine in the brain, which is majorly significant for your abilities to be organised (and to manage procrastination)!
Ashtawanga is great for stress reduction and anxiety.
They are super cheap, available and easy to incorporate into your diet.
How: You buy them in powdered form, and all may be blended into a smoothie, added to a hot drink or just simply taken with water. Ashwagandha and mucuna pruriens do not taste of much. Maca root tastes kind of nutty and pairs well with cacao. It is also great in savory recipes.
Why: I included spirulina here because of the quantities of B vitamins and the calming effects on my nervous system. Because it is so nutritious, spirulina is very energizing – you’ll get a buzz much like with cacao (see below). Spirulina – like its soul sistas wheatgrass and chlorella – contains tons of chlorophyll which is excellent for energizing you.
Spirulina has a powerful dampening (cooling) effect on your body. For that reason, it is great to eat regularly during the summer.
How: 1-2 tablespoons blended with apple juice and fresh aloe vera, or blended with grapefruit. It’s great with savoury stuff too actually (like raw crackers), which you would need a dehydrator (and some skilz) to make.
What: Cacao is chocolate in its purest, nutritionally integritous (not a word – I just made it up) form.
Why: Cacao is obscenely good for you. Even ‘cooked’ dark chocolate offers fairly unparalleled health benefits (although unfortunately that has to be offset against the sugar content usually added to these bars).
When I eat cacao, I am thinking about supplying my body with pro-life antioxidants and magnesium, no.1 needed mineral for health. Cacao is also high in iron, manganese, chromium, PEA, theobromine and anandamide. These things make it an amazing food for mood modifying and intense exercising.
How: Raw chocolate bars, cakes and desserts; smoothies, too. It is super easy to incorporate raw cacao into your diet now. You can whip up a great healthy mousse made with ripe avocado, cacao powder and agave.
Kick-ass kombucha or kefir
What: Both are probiotic beverages. Kefir is made with a base liquid of dairy milk, coconut milk or water. Kombucha is made with a base of sweetened green or black tea.
Why: I have written a post all about my love affair with kefir, which you can read here.
Kombucha tea is the bomb for your health, detoxing you and furnishing your body with immune boosting bacteria. Recently I have had an issue with buying kombucha that is too sweet. If you want to avoid that, you can make yours at home. Because of convenience issues, I continue to buy out.
How: Kombucha tea – straight up. Kefir – blended into a smoothie with berries.
What: It’s a seed that feeds you protein in one of the most nourishing ways possible.
Why: Hemp seed is pretty much a perfect food. The main thing in eating hemp seed for me is giving my body high quality plant protein, helping to feed my brain and healthy hormones.
Hemp seeds are packed with 33% pure digestible protein, and are rich in iron, amino acids, and vitamin E as well as omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are important in cell regeneration and healthy brain function.
How: In a hemp ‘mylk’. Using a high speed blender, you blend shelled hemp seed in either cold filtered or hot water to create a rich creamy liquid. You can then add fruits, natural sweetners such as stevia or other superfoods such as cacao and maca.
What: Another seed; teeny black ones that are known for being energizing and have a rich history of use in Aztec and Mayan cultures.
Why: For me chia seed is so awesome because of the mad things it does to your digestive health. Chia supplies all-important insoluble fiber (essential for a healthy gut microbiome). There are loads of other benefits too.
How: Everyone should at least try chia pudding once in their lives. My favorite way to eat them is just in coconut water, a la chia fresca. Chia seed can also be added to smoothies (it thickens a smoothy nicely). It is optimal to grind the chia seed first (cracking open the nutrients). If you do that, then throw the chia seed into your dry blender first before tipping into a container and adding into the smoothie once you have added other ingredients.
Coconut (and all its friends)
What: Sweet, tropical staple. The Western world has gone co-co for coconuts, meaning we now have access to coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut yogurt, young coconut products (including water), coconut butter, coconut jam…
Why: Coconut exploded in popularity after researchers backtracked on the issue of medium-chain triglycerides (abundant in coconut) being bad for us. In fact the research heavily suggests that the MCTs that coconut provides are extremely beneficial for heart and brain health. There are so many other benefits to eating this yummy food too.
How: If you are using anything other than coconut oil to cook with, then it’s time for an oil change. Coconut oil is really the only safe oil to heat.
Don’t just limit yourself to coconut oil!
One of my favorite things ever is coconut butter – coconut flesh that’s been pureed into a creamy spread. Equally to-die-for are young coconut jerky and yogurts, ice-cream and even young coconut kefir yogurt. One of the best things about living in Thailand was hacking open a young coconut and making a smoothie from the meat and water. If you don’t live in Thailand, you can do the same with dried coconut and hot water.
Coconut jam is recent discovery that I am going to wish I didn’t make.
Gorgeous goji berries
What: Little red super berries used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for over 5,000 years as a potent longevity enhancer and overall health tonic.
Why: Goji berries are a strength-building food of the highest order. They contain 18 kinds of amino acids, including all 8 essential amino acids, 21 trace minerals, and decent amounts of antioxidants.
I always feel great when I eat goji berries regularly. I think that they do good things for mood and energy levels.
How: They are easy to source and in my opinion, best eaten as part of a trail mix, or else soaked in some lemon and eaten as a snack (that is really delish). Else you can just throw some into your green tea.
Best of the rest
Aloe is such a fantastic food for digestive health, a great immune booster and anti-viral. The reason it hasn’t made the cut is that it’s fairly difficult to get your hands on in some parts of the world – the fresh stuff at least, that you can take right from the leaf. Fresh aloe gel is great blended into smoothies.
Brazil nuts contain selenium, which is an essential trace element. You can bung them in your high speed blender to make smoothies with an extra nutritional boast, or make a trail mix with goji berries, cacao beans or nibs. Don’t have more than 4/5 per time, as selenium is toxic in too high doses.
(Also known as linseed).
What makes flaxseed so awesome aside form furnishing you with necessary omegas and fiber is that, once you know what you are doing, it is just such a versatile food.
Go easy when you are first eating this food if you want to avoid a protracted session in the bathroom.
Acai could easily have made the top ten, and the reason it didn’t is because of the relative expense and availability in some locations in the world. Acai has a super high ORAC score making it a great longevity food, has an awesome flavour and supplies healthy fats. It tends to be available in powder form or frozen in sachets. Both types make no-brainer smoothie additions.
Bee pollen has a ton of B vitamins and all 21 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Raw honey is rich in minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, and enzymes. Both are pretty tasty and easy to eat straight or combine with other superfoods. Raw honey in particular makes a great replacement sweetener.
20 superfood snacks
Here is a list of my favorite superfood snacks incorporating the above and other beneficial foods. Eat these to turbo charge your mental and physical performance, and boost immunity and longevity!
- Trail mixes made with brazil nuts, goji berries, desiccated coconut and cacao nibs/beans. This would be my go-to snack for on the road.
- Nori wraps. Wrap your avo/sprouts/cucumber/tomatoes with nori sheet. Also (when I can get it) fresh wakame salad.
- Raw chocolate and organic dark chocolate. Make your own (cacao, coconut oil and stevia plus superfoods) or buy it.
- Hemp smoothies. Hemp ‘mylk’ blended with mushroom powder, cacao and frozen banana (for e.g.). Make a hemp mylk by blending de-hulled hemp seed with water, before blending in other superfoods. Alternatively, use a hemp protein powder.
- Kefir/kombucha. Straight up (kombucha), or if you’re using kefir, blended with fruits and vegetables.
- Chia pudding. Add coconut or almond milk to 4 tablespooons of chia seed, stir and wait for it to turn into tapioca style pudding. Simples. It’s pretty filling…
- Flax pancakes. Egg and flaxseed makes such an awesome pancake, you’ll never want it another way again. Eggs on their own make a pretty neat snack too.
- Tempeh. Great oven baked with bbq flavors (you could make a simple marinade with apple cider vinegar, raw honey and spices).
- Natto. Fermented soy bean, rich in K2. Try it with rice and mustard, and wrap it in nori.
- Wild fatty fish (salmon). This is always going to be a top notch choice for a snack. Ceviche, too.
- Chopped organic apple or veggies with raw organic almond butter. Or raw tahini (sesame seed dip).
- Papaya or berries. These are my go-to fruits: papaya for the bowl-health promoting qualities and berries (especially blueberries) for the brain health benefits.
- Grass fed beef jerky.
- Acai bowls.
- Avocado sprinkled with seaweed. Avocados provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients.
- Bone broth. There is not a lot of long term research on this food, but anecdotal evidence is it does wonders for joint pain and mobility.
- Fermented veggies. Sauerkraut, kimchi – yummy.
- Energy balls or raw (uncooked) granola. Blend dried dates or other fruits with hemp or sesame seed and other superfoods.
- ‘Guerrilla’ coffee. A potent blend of maca, coffee, coconut oil and stevia, almond butter. Your brain will be insane afterwards.
- Coconut butter. The best thing ever. Likewise coconut jam, coconut kefir, coconut yogurt…
Superfood reading, recipes and blogs
For me, there is no-one better at creating superfoods recipes than Kate Magic.
In Raw Magic: Super Foods for Super People, there are some particularly amazing cacao (aka chocolate) recipes. I have made some seriously great desserts from here. There might have been a few epic failures too, but we won’t talk about those…
In terms of superfoods nutrition, you want to read: Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, by David Wolfe.
Otherwise, there are a ton of blogs that can give you recipe ideas. My top pick would be The Full Helping (previously Choosing Raw).
The proper place of superfoods?
Eating the most nutrient dense foods on the planet will definitely do wonders for your health.
However, the real super ‘foods’ are always going to be getting enough sleep, having a generally quality diet, moving enough, keeping low stress levels, enjoying great and authentic relationships and having a rewarding career. No amount of goji berries is going to help you if you aren’t getting the basic elements right. We should definitely focus on these things first before we stress and obsess about eating superfoods…don’t you think?
What are your go-to snacks for health and performance awesomeness? Get in touch!