The terms superfood has become very sensationalised in recent years. It almost feels like everything is being called a superfood, which is why we’ve curated the top 5 foods that we are loving right now. Incorporate these into your snack and meal times for a healthy hit of nutrients that have many (and we mean a lot) of benefits!
You may have noticed that turmeric is gaining increasing popularity among healthy foodies. It’s now an added booster to many smoothies, a staple ingredient in master tonics and cleanses, and is even making an appearance at coffee shops. This Indian root has a plethora of benefits, making it the next big superfood to watch out for. Turmeric contains a powerful compound, called curcumin, which contains antioxidant properties – think, cancer fighting. It also fights against inflammation – which in the short-term is a good thing, because it protects our bodies against foreign pathogens, but can caused serious damage if it becomes a chronic condition. It is widely believed that long-term exposure to inflammation is a key factor in many diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease among others. Curcumin works at the molecular level as a powerful anti-inflammatory to protect us against this type of damage. What’s even better? It’s an all-natural alternative to over the counter drugs, and overall can yield similar results. Curcumin can also block free radicals, which are not only involved in the ageing process but a key factor in the development of cancer as well. Curcumin is a double-edged sword because it doesn’t just inhibit the production of free radicals, but also stimulates the body’s production of antioxidants. Turmeric latte, anyone?
You may have heard of it, but like me, are wondering what the heck it is? Bee pollen has been widely regarded as the healthiest and most nourishing food on earth, as it contains nearly all nutrients necessary for normal functioning of the body. It is cultivated by honeybees, and is in fact the food of a young bee! Bee pollen is extremely high in protein (about 40%) and actually gram for gram, contains more protein than any animal source. We all know that amino acids are the building blocks of protein. What’s interesting about bee pollen is that roughly half of its protein is in the form of free amino acids, which can be readily absorbed and used by the body upon ingestion. Bee pollen also has many other beneficial applications including the treatment of allergies, reduction of inflammation as well as aiding digestion among others. The enzymes in bee pollen assist your body in absorbing essential nutrients as well an boosting your immune system as it is beneficial for the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Another interesting benefit, and likely very exciting for some, is bee pollen’s unique ability to curb cravings. This capability may make it a useful tool in weight management, but more research it still required.
Maca, an herb native to the Andes of Peru, is certainly going to be a favourite on this list among women. Listen up ladies, because this powerful superfood can help with fertility issues, alleviate menopause symptoms as well as improve libido. Maca root has the ability to balance hormones to help regulate some of the nasty symptoms that come along with menopause including hot flashes, night sweats and feeling melancholy. It is also a powerful mood booster, which is good news for everyday life and also the bedroom. Maca contains naturally occurring fatty acids, which are essential in overall cognitive health and functioning of the brain as it relates to mood regulation. It may also play a role in improving infertility. Research has only been conducted on animals to date, but it shows promising results for natural alternatives. Of course, maca is also incredibly high in several vitamins and minerals, which not only support healthy energy levels, but have also been found to aid the recovery process when an injury is sustained.
This hot new mushroom, which typically grows on birch trees in cooler climates – think Russia, is the newest superfood on our radar. It has an impact on many of our body’s core functions including regulating the nervous system, immune system, gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system as well as our endocrine system. Chaga helps support our immune system when it is down, and regulate it when it is overactive. This powerful little mushroom has also been known to combat cancer-causing cells as well as treating autoimmune diseases. They contain powerful antioxidants (just like our friend turmeric) that protect us against harmful free radicals. More research is still being conducted to understand the full scope of chaga’s role in this process. Compounds in chaga have also been proven to help us manage stress and moderate our emotions – specifically when it comes to depression. It is also a helpful moderator as it relates to the acidity of our gut. Chaga is one of this planet’s richest sources of minerals, which help keep our body in an alkaline state. As we all know, moderation is key!
Last but certainly not least – pumpkin seeds! These little guys are no ordinary seed, but a nutritional powerhouse! High in magnesium (containing more than half of your recommended daily amount in only a quarter of a cup), pumpkin seeds aid in muscle recovery, improving quality of sleep, formation of bones and teeth as well as a well-functioning excretory system. Pumpkin seeds are also a fantastic source of fiber, zinc and omega-3 fats, meaning they will keep your skin and eyes healthy, your stomach satiated, your immune system in top form, and your heart and liver happy. They’re also incredibly portable and delicious on everything from salads, to smoothies, to energy bars, or blended into seed butter!
Although this list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many superfoods out there, these five are certainly the newest and hottest foods that you’ll soon see popping up everywhere shortly, if you haven’t already. I hope that you feel inspired to go sip on a chaga tea or slurp down a pumpkin seed-turmeric-maca-bee pollen smoothie. OK, maybe not the last one. We do promise that if you find room to incorporate these superfoods into your daily life, your body will thank you.
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The Author: Daina Kenins
Daina is a lover of all things health & wellness related; a health food connoisseur, an avid marathon runner, a certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher and a spin studio manager. She is ambassador for healthy eating and loves to create and share recipes on her instagram page @thepaleobean.