(BeWellBuzz) Look up superfoods and you’re likely to find berries, broccoli and quinoa. Great common foods, no question, but there’s more out there! We’ve compiled a list of superfoods that for some reason very few are talking about.
Often we do know that something is good for us without knowing the reason why. Case in point maybe with superfoods. There are some of these amazing foods that have always been hailed as nutritious and good for health. However, thanks to modern technology and health processes, today we are able to identify these foods as superfoods and this is because they do not possess just a single nutrient, but many.
Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods that offer us many benefits at the same time so in effect you get more nutrition with lesser amount of food that you eat. Look at your lunch or dinner and you’re probably hard pressed to find even a single superfood in it. Instead it’s probably chockfull of cholesterol laden junk food that can do wonders to your waistline (increase it) and damage your heart and arteries irrevocably.
Superfoods are actually easily available and it’s only in recent times that they’ve been identified as superfoods with near super powers. Also, since everyone is now into organic food, it’s become easier to find these foods in most places where you wouldn’t have found them even a few years ago.
Why should you eat superfoods?
Obviously, it’s for the amazing health benefits that they offer. These foods are rich in nutrients and work wonders in keeping your mind and body healthy. But, this is not all. Once you start consuming superfoods on a regular basis, you will start noticing the difference in not just how you feel, but also how you look.
Eating these foods regularly makes your body healthier, helps you flush out toxins more frequently and leaves you with a healthy glow. It also helps you maintain your weight and you can continue to remain healthy without having to take annoying vitamins or mineral tablets. Superfoods in fact contain all the right nutrients in the right proportions. But there’s more. So far, you’ve only read that they contain nutrients. But what nutrients are these?
Typically superfoods contain antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, polysaccharides, enzymes and glyconutrients to name a few. However, the best part is that these foods are clean and pesticide free, organic sources of these nutrients, so in effect they act faster and work better.
So, what are these superfoods and where can you find them? Here’s a list of top 16 superfoods that you should include in your diet and see the remarkable changes that they bring in your life.
1. Goji berries - Also known as wolfberry, desert thorn and matrimony vine, these berries are typically found in Asia and America. Goji berries have many interesting legends associated with them, particularly Chinese. What makes these so popular is that they can grow well in harsh weathers of both extremes and they can even survive desert type of environment. Goji berries are deep red in color and are often dried and eaten as raisins. So, how does the Goji berry help you?
- Increases immunity
- Protects liver
- Improves eyesight
- Improves quality of blood
- Prevent aging
An important thing to remember is that Goji berries should not be used to treat illness but to prevent it from occurring. Also, Goji berries provide overall nourishment by providing an amazing number of rich nutrients. In fact, the number of nutrients that it contains by way of amino acids, vitamins, polysaccharides, HGH (human growth hormone), are too many to be listed.
Goji berries improve the quality of your life and help you live longer. The Chinese also believe that Goji berries can considerably enhance libido and improve sex life. However, the most important aspect of Goji berries is that it is a very rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are crucial to keep you young but also to improve vision and eyesight. Goji berries are known to aid the production of choline, which stops the production of free radicals and prevents degeneration of the brain due to diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Finally, these are also known to protect the arteries from narrowing down due to build up of plaque along the walls, which can cause heart related diseases.
Goji berries can be added to tea or soups to make them healthier or you could just munch on them as you would with raisins. Goji berries can also be blended into smoothies or juices or added to other recipes to fortify them.
2. Açaí – This South American fruit has been one of the richest food sources for the people of the Amazon but it has started gaining immense popularity across the world as well for some of its excellent health benefits. The Amazon people of Brazil have been using the Açaí from many years and they seem to have fundamentally known that it had all these superfood powers without being formally educated about it. Scientists today are still discovering all the wonderful things that the Açaí berry can do, but nevertheless, some of its well known benefits have been documented already. Here’s a quick look at what the Açaí berry can do.
- Helps people sleep better
- Makes the immune system stronger
- Slows down the aging process
- Regulates the levels of cholesterol in the body
- Improves vision
- Improves circulation and functioning of the heart
- Reduces inflammation
- Detoxifies the body
What does the Açaí berry have which makes it such a fantastic superfood? It is known to contain significant amounts of essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 as well as monounsaturated oleic acid. Açaí berries also have a high concentration of blue pigmented antioxidants and it has the one of the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) values amongst fruits. As we all know, free radicals are the cause of all harm in our bodies, including the ageing process and Açaí berries are excellent in absorbing these free radicals.
Açaí berries also contain plant sterols which are known for their cholesterol absorption qualities. Furthermore, Açaí berries have as many as nineteen different amino acids for building healthy proteins and it has plenty of dietary fiber as well which helps out in digestion. Açaí berries also contain very less sugar and have plenty of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus and vitamins such as beta-carotene and vitamin E. One of the most amazing qualities of Açaí berries is that since it has such a high concentration of anti-oxidants, it is also being considered as a cancer fighter, and research is being conducted to verify this aspect.
Today, the internet is full of information about how the Açaí berry can help you lose weight and yes, this is one of the fantastic side effects of using this berry. All the elements of Açaí berries such as fatty acids, amino acids, fiber and phytosterols work together to help you burn body fat and become trimmer.
Açaí berries can be consumed as supplements, or if you get acai berry powder, you can add it to smoothies and juices. No matter how you consume it, it’s bound to benefit you in many ways, so make it a part of your regular diet.
3. Cacao – There’s always some sort of research being conducted on chocolate and every time the findings are always positive. This goes to show that chocolate is indeed good for us, but if you’ve noticed, the findings are always in favor of dark chocolate, a chocolate with very little sugar content. If you travel a little backwards and see, the origin of chocolate, that is, the cacao beans are actually much more than a source of chocolate. These are superfoods in themselves and have some amazing health benefits.
Cacao has a fascinating history with plenty of legends surrounding it, but what can be deduced is that until sugar was added, the drink made from cacao was considered highly potent. Today, there’s plenty of research available to suggest that cacao is indeed really good for us. Here are the ways in which cacao can help us as far as health is concerned. Now don’t run out and gorge on chocolate, cacao is a stimulant so moderation is key! Here are some amazing benefits of using cacao:
- Increases blood flow to the brain and enhances brain function
- Has a high concentration of anti oxidants such as polyphenols, catechins and epicatechins. Anti oxidants as we all know are the holy grail of youth and a disease free life.
- The magnesium in cacao is good for the heart, helps prevent constipation and even eases menstrual cramps.
- Cacao also has iron, which makes it a great weapon to fight against anemia.
- Cacao contains chromium, a trace mineral which works wonders to maintain the balance of blood sugar.
- Manganese, another trace mineral that can be found in cacao is great when it comes to building up of hemoglobin.
- Zinc, another mineral that cacao contains is known for its essential role in enhancing our immune system.
- Raw cacao contains vitamin C as well which has its own gamut of uses.
- Raw cacao contains essential omega 6 fatty acids. An important thing to note is that cooked and processed chocolate contains rancid omega 6 fatty acids or trans fats which are not healthy for you.
- Cacao beans contain certain compounds that can trigger weight loss, make you feel good and improve your mood considerably.
- The fiber in cacao beans works wonderfully to cleanse the digestive system.
Cacao can be found as cacao beans with or without the skin, cacao nibs, cacao butter, powder or paste and ideally it should all be raw and organic. A great idea would be to buy raw organic cacao products and include them in your usual drinks such as tea or coffee or even coconut water. You can also use cacao nibs in desserts but ideally if you love dark chocolate, you should be able to adjust to the bitter taste of raw cacao which can do so many wonders for your body. Science yet has to understand the many layers and benefits of chocolate, but these are indeed pretty much there for everyone to see.
4. Maca – Maca is typically found in the Andes, at a high location where the land is barren and weather conditions extreme. These harsh conditions could probably be the reason why the maca root is chockfull of nutrients which makes it a highly valued superfood. Maca root in its various forms, either powdered or cooked has been traditionally consumed by the people of the Andes for many years and in recent times, scientists are recognizing it for its immense nutritional value. The world over, people are waking up to the enormous health benefits it offers, making it a highly prized superfood. Here’s how it can help you:
- Increases stamina and libido
- Helps the endocrine system function properly, thereby eliminating hormonal imbalances
- Lowers anemia and alleviates menstrual discomfort and cramps
- Is also known to be effective in fighting stomach cancer and tuberculosis
- Rich source of fatty acids and sterols
- Has a good concentration of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus as well as vitamins such as B1, C, B2 and E
- Known to help women deal with menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings
- Works wonders at reducing the symptoms of altitude sickness
Maca root is usually dried and powdered and can be consumed as part of smoothies, teas, milk or coffee. Make sure you buy raw organic maca powder. Maca chocolate bars and energy bars are also available, but the most amazing thing is that maca works best with cacao so you can combine these two superfoods and create your own super powered superfood.
A word of caution though. As with anything, extremes are not a good idea, so never consume more maca than you should because it can cause adverse reactions in your body. Hyperactivity, insomnia, diarrhea and dehydration are some of the side effects that can occur as a result of over dosage of maca.
Maca is indeed one of the more potent types of superfoods because these can cause changes in the way you live and react as well. It’s always advised to use superfoods cautiously and never in excess because of the side effects that can result.
Next week, we’ll learn about some more amazing superfoods, some you may not have heard of. Until then, eat well and stay healthy!