[This is a guest blog post from WellnessFX practitioner Sarah Brett. Sarah’s background can be found at the end of this post]
They are a special category of foods that are low in calories and dense in nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. In order to build a healthy nervous system, digestive system, and a healthy skeletal system, you need such nutrients. These can be found in what are now popularly known as Superfoods
These Superfoods contain specific nutrients that we cannot prepare at home, but instead, can only benefit from by consuming the respective food. They are loaded with precious antioxidants which are needed to keep the free radicals at bay (free radicals, oxidative damage created when cells use oxygen).
There are certain Superfoods that can boost your metabolism, slow down the aging of cells, protect you against serious diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancerous diseases and other problems related to the immune system. Superfoods are rich in phytochemicals, good bacteria that protect your immune system, as well as antioxidants, which play a key role in fighting off the damaging processes of free radicals.
Here are my favorite six Superfoods! These foods are worth a try for the unique health benefits and great taste.
My 6 Favorite Superfoods
1. Black Garlic
Black garlic contains twice the amount of antioxidants compared to regular white garlic. Black garlic could also help lower cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure, and it may offer some protection against infection because it’s a natural antibiotic.
Black garlic is made by fermenting whole bulbs of garlic at a high temperature, which results in the distinctive black cloves. This is also known as an aging process as no yeast or fungus is involved. The black color is a result of this fermentation process.
I love to use black garlic as a spread on whole grain bread, pita chips or on toast. It has a distinct flavor from white garlic and can really pop a dish and be a great conversation piece at your next dinner party! It can be savory or used in a chocolate torte for something sweet! I can usually find black garlic at Whole Foods, natural health stores. (See photo of Black Garlic at the top of the page)
Teff is an ancient grain originating from Ethiopia, South Africa, and India. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals and it’s naturally gluten free. Traditionally, Teff is fermented into a bread called Injera, but it can also be cooked just like other whole grain. I enjoy making Teff porridge with fresh fruit, nuts or seeds and your choice of milk or dairy alternative (I opt for almond milk) to enjoy in the morning.
When cooking Teff, it takes approximately 20 minutes. You would use 1 cup of the grain to 3 cups of the water.
Don’t let its size fool you. Teff is nutrient dense and a wonderful source of iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc, as well as protein and fiber. Just ¼ cup of uncooked Teff – which is 1 serving (after being cooked) – has 8 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein and 21% of your daily value of iron – I told you it was small but mighty!
You can find Teff at most stores that sell Bob’s Red Mill products.
3. Chia Seeds
One tablespoon of chia seeds has 55 calories, 2 grams protein and 6 grams of fiber, plus calcium, iron and potassium. These little seeds are also gluten and cholesterol-free. As an added bonus, chia seeds don’t need to be ground before consuming so you can add them straight into dishes. The fat content of chia seeds may vary based on the brand from 3 to 9 grams per tablespoon. Don’t worry though the type of fat found in these tiny seeds are primarily polyunsaturated, which is healthy for you.
I love to add a tablespoon of chia seeds to a smoothie or salad to get a nutritional boost. You can also enjoy them as a dessert, mixed with milk or a dairy alternative (coconut milk is a popular choice) to make a chia seed pudding. Way better than tapioca pudding in my book!
You can find chia seeds at most grocery stores.
4. Siggi’s Yogurt
Siggi’s is a brand of yogurt that is made in the United States BUT is Icelandic style (Skyr). It’s made by incubating skim milk with live active cultures and then strained to create a thicker, creamier, concentrated yogurt. It’s very similar (if not almost the same) as Greek yogurt. The main difference between Siggi’s and other brands of Greek yogurt is that this has less sugar per serving. Instead of 18 grams per serving Siggi’s has 11 grams. The amount of ADDED sugar is about 5 grams because yogurt already has natural sugars. Five grams is about one teaspoon so for me that is just the right amount.
Check out if Siggi’s yogurt will fit for you and your health goals.
Siggi’s has 10 more calories than most Greek yogurt brands but you also get 4 more grams of protein – more protein makes it a superfood to me! Also, it doesn’t contain sucralose. Its texture and flavor is superb.
Mulberries are loaded with health benefits thanks to its deep purple hue. They have cancer-fighting polyphenols and are loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin C, calcium, iron and folate.
Some great benefits are:
- An ability to decrease blood sugar levels and antioxidant benefits
- It has potent anti-ulcer compounds
- Combats oxidative stress and cell death
- It has cholesterol lowering potential
- It can boost memory and may stave off Alzheimer’s disease
I love to add mulberries to my ice cream, yogurt, or alone, right out of the package, to enjoy their benefits. I typically find these deep purple powerhouse berries at the grocery store, a Whole Foods, or any store that has fresh produce in dried or frozen forms.
Check out all the great nutrition benefits of mulberries. I bet it scores high marks for you, too!
The cupuaçu tree is from the Amazon and belongs to the same family as cocoa tree. Its main fruit is the versatile cupuaçu. The cupuaçu is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and potassium. Its nutritious pulp helps regulate the blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels, plus it can give a feeling of satiety, so some people find it useful for weight loss. The cupuaçu pulp is often used for making juice, ice cream, smoothies, mousse, jellies, chocolates, and liqueur. The seeds are used for producing “cupulate,” a product with similar characteristics to the chocolate. Its taste is similar to chocolate, but it’s more nutritious and healthier than eating a chocolate bar.
I tend to buy the powder form. If I can find the juice, I use that to make popsicles! Products that contain cupuacu pulp can be found at Whole Foods markets and most grocery stores to add this chocolate-y alternative into your diet.
What are the foods you love to include in your diet that are healthy and add a nutritional punch to your day?
Sarah Brett is a Dietitian for Shopwell.com, a web and mobile app that helps people eat healthier and achieve personal nutrition goals and encourages you to check out the app. She is part of the WellnessFX practitioner network, providing consultations via WellnessFX’s telehealth offering, as functional health practitioner. Prior to WellnessFX she taught for the Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, CA. She has worked extensively in public health (for the WIC Program) and clinical nutrition in hospital settings, long term care and has been a consultant for various institutions. Sarah has a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ, a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition from the University of New Haven in West Haven, CT. She is currently a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is involved in several dietetics practice groups including: Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine, Sports Nutrition, Hunger and the Environment, Nutrition Entrepreneurs. She has written articles for Good Housekeeping on Vitamins and Minerals. You can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.