What is a superfood? Superfoods are plant based foods which contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in a concentrated form.
Why do I use superfoods? The simple answer is because they taste great and provide me with a burst of nutrients. They are ideal as a way to supplement a balanced diet and ensure all my nutritional requirements are met, by blending them into smoothies or sprinkling them over cereal, porridge and salads. It is not always easy to obtain all the nutrients you need from food alone, so one solution is to follow the natural route and consume superfoods, as opposed to taking extra vitamin tablets.
Some of the most powerful superfoods include: Acai, Spirulina, Maca, Cacao, Chia seeds, Baobab, Hemp, Wheatgrass, Goji berries.
Açaí berries are deep purple berries from Brazil, which are famous for being rich in antioxidants, as well as vitamin E and essential fatty acids. Try my Açaí Bowl recipe to get those tropical Brazilian beach vibes straight from your kitchen!
Spirulina is a freshwater algae, which is made up of 60-70% complete proteins and comes in powder form. It sustains energy and helps to keep blood sugar balanced, whilst offering a source of iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, selenium and zinc.
Maca is a root vegetable found in the Andes of Peru. It can help boost metabolism, energy and focus as it supplies the body with essential vitamins and minerals: magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamins B, C and E. In its natural powder form, maca is made up of 10% protein containing 20 amino acids, and is bursting with fibre. Try it in my Sticky Toffee Date Spread, Salted Maca Caramel Ice Cream or Maca-Macadamia Energy Balls.
Cacao is the pure unprocessed version of cocoa. It’s the sort of chocolate we should all be consuming, as it doesn’t contain the sugar, dairy, processing, heat damage and additives that destroy the nutritional value. Cacao is rich in various minerals, including copper, magnesium, chromium and zinc as well as essential fats and carbohydrates. Cacao also contains 20% of the RDA of iron per ounce serving, as well as sulfur which helps to form strong nails and hair.
Cacao has 4 times the level of antioxidants than green tea and has 600 antioxidants in comparison to blueberries which have 40. Great for colds and flus, cacao also contains high levels of vitamin C for immune functioning and protecting against illnesses. Cacao also promotes cardiovascular health such as lowering LDL cholesterol, protects from environmental toxins and may reduce the risk of some cancers.
Use cacao powder in raw desserts, baking, or to make raw chocolate sauces, blend into smoothies, stir into oatmeal porridge and use the cacao nibs in place of chocolate chips.
Chia seeds are a fantastic source of cell-strengthening omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and protect the skin from sun damage. Chia seeds are a wealth of plant based nutrition, with the fibre promoting satiety, the amimo acids promoting a healthy weight, improved mood and improved sleep, and the other minerals being great for overall health.
Create your own chia-seed pudding by combining a scoop of chia seeds and enough almond milk to cover and leave in the fridge to soak overnight while the seeds form a gelatinous outer layer, for a perfect detox snack, dessert or breakfast.
Known for its immune boosting properties, baobab contains six times more vitamin C than oranges gram per gram, and is rich in iron to boost energy levels.
Hemp seeds are high in protein and omega fatty acids, ensuring healthy hair, skin and nails. Hemp hearts also contain high levels of many trace minerals such as potassium, magnesium and copper and vitamins D and E.
Bursting with chlorophyll and antioxidants, wheatgrass has a rather strong grassy taste. It is filled with fibre and vitamin A, which contributes to glowing skin and strong, shiny hair.
These nutritionally dense berries are a complete source of protein, containing 18 amino acids, and are packed with Vitamin C. They contain more carotenoids than any other food and have 4 times the antioxidant level of blueberries. In addition, they contain vitamins B and E, calcium, zinc and 16 times the iron level of spinach. They also promote blood circulation, improve eyesight and support optimal organ function. Finally, goji berries have natural anti inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties that boost the immune system.
These superfoods are all nutrient packed additions to a healthy and balanced plant based diet and should be consumed in moderation. Other superfoods which you can eat in greater quantities as a part of meals and alongside your fruit and vegetables include raw nuts and seeds, avocados, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, millet, coconut, tahini, hummus and tempeh.