5 Superfoods to Boost your Healthy Diet

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July 2, 2020

5 Superfoods to Boost your Healthy Diet

We all know that eating more vegetables and fruit is important for your health. There still are some debates on high protein diets vs. managing your carb to protein ration. However, I believe that there are a few superfoods out there that contain so many benefits that it is a great asset to add them to your healthy lifestyle. Here are 5 superfoods which cover so many useful benefits including an increase in mental performance, stabilizing hormones and blood sugars, supporting the heart and digestive system, and reducing signs of ageing.

  1. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have become one of the most popular of the superfoods. They are easy to digest when prepared properly and are a very versatile ingredient which is easy to add to recipes. 

Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language, and they were known as “runner’s food” because runners and warriors would use them as fuel while running long distances or during a battle. It was said that only 1 spoonful of chia could sustain you for 24 hours.

Recent research has shown that the chia seed benefits are even greater than we realized. Chia seed benefits include promoting healthy skin, reducing signs of ageing, supporting the heart and digestive system, building stronger bones and muscles. Now they have even been linked to healing diabetes. 

The reason Chia seeds are so beneficial is due to them being rich in fibre, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. They are also a rich source of anti-oxidants.

How to Eat Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have a mild nutty taste and can easily be added to most dishes as a garnish, yet chewing small seeds like flax or chia generally doesn’t make the omega-3’s and other nutrients readily available for digestion and assimilation. The best way to access their vitamins and minerals is to either grind or soak them.

When you soak them, then they “sprout” and release the “enzyme inhibitors” that are used to protect the seed. This makes it much easier to digest and your body can then access the dense nutrients inside the seeds. 

 How to Soak: 

To soak chia seeds, simply mix them in a 1:10 ratio chia to water. That’s about 1.5 tablespoons chia seeds in one cup of water. It does not have to be exact, but you do want it to gel all the way and not be too watery. Then let them sit for about 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Since chia seeds can hold up to 12 times its weight in water, they are a great way to thicken up soups or a smoothie. However, if you choose not to soak them, then they can also absorb water from you during digestion. So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.

2. Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows in both fresh and saltwater.

Gram for gram, spirulina may literally be the single most nutritious food on the planet.

A tablespoon of spirulina contains a small amount of fat (around 1 gram), including both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

The quality of the protein in spirulina is considered excellent, comparable to eggs. It contains all the essential amino acids that we need. Spirulina has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties because of its main active component called phycocyanin. This antioxidant substance also gives spirulina its unique blue-green colour. Phycocyanin can fight free radicals and inhibit the production of inflammatory signalling molecules, providing impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Additional benefits include:

  • Lowering LDL cholesterol as well as protecting it from becoming oxidized
  • Lowering your triglyceride levels
  • Helping to “detoxify” the heavy metal arsenic from the body.

How To Take Spirulina:

Spirulina comes in powder form or tablets. You can add the powder to smoothies, juices or soups.  

3. Maca 

Maca root is an adaptogen and a member of the cruciferous family, like broccoli and cabbage, but due to its unique properties, it is considered one of the world’s most effective superfoods. Maca is grown high in the mountains of South America, mainly in high altitude regions of Peru.

The pleasant tasting root is usually available in powder form after being harvested and grounded down. The maca root benefits include a positive effect on hormone balance, energy levels, and a health booster.

Maca Root benefits include increased fertility in both men and women, hormone balance, booster for the immune system, and increased energy, stamina, improved sexual function, memory, and focus.

Maca is considered an “adaptogen”, a name given to certain herbs, plants, and natural substances that help the body naturally adapt to stressors like a busy schedule, demanding job, or illness, for example. 

Consuming maca often makes people feel more “alive”, energetic, and leaves them with a sense of well-being, all of which are thought to be due to its ability to restore proper hormone balance and elevate “feel good” endorphins. Another benefit of maca is its relatively high amount of absorbable plant-based nutrients, including protein, fibre, calcium and magnesium.

You can add Maca to smoothies, oatmeal or cereal. The natural nutty taste is similar to cinnamon or nutmeg with a slight sweetness

4. Matcha

When you drink matcha you ingest the entire leaf and receive 100% of the nutrients of the leaf. Matcha powdered green tea has 137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea. 

Health benefits of matcha:

• Is packed with antioxidants including the powerful EGCg

• Boosts metabolism and burns calories

• Detoxifies effectively and naturally

• Calms the mind and relaxes the body

• Is rich in fibre, chlorophyll and vitamins

• Enhances mood and aids in concentration

• Provides vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium

• Prevents disease

• Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar

Why is matcha better than loose leaf tea?

Every day, countless people throw away valuable antioxidants and minerals. While seemingly unimaginable, that’s exactly what happens when you brew a cup of green tea because water can only extract a fraction of green teas benefits. The majority remains unused, trapped in the tea leaves. In reality, the only way to truly take advantage of green teas full potential is to consume the entire leaf. But that does not mean you need to start eating tea leaves. The simplest solution is to just enjoy a bowl of matcha. Because matcha is straight, stoneground tea leaves, matcha provides you with green teas powerful arsenal of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids in a way no other green tea can.

What are green tea catechins, and why are they so important in anti-cancer diets?

Matcha tea contains a unique, potent class of antioxidant known as catechins, which aren’t found in other foods. In particular, the catechin EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate) provides potent cancer-fighting properties.

Most importantly, EGCg and other catechins counteract the effects of free radicals from the likes of pollution, UV rays, radiation, and chemicals, which can lead to cell and DNA damage. Since over 60% of the catechins in matcha are actually EGCg, a daily matcha regimen can help restore and preserve the body’s integral well-being and balance. 

What unique properties of matcha support weight loss?

Already nearly calorie free, matcha is a great addition to a weight loss program by tackling the problem from both sides. It boosts metabolism and burns fat. One recent study even suggested that matcha may help burn calories by four times. At the same time, matcha does not put any stress on the body. It doesn’t raise blood pressure or heart rate, making it a safe alternative to questionable quick fixes or pharmaceuticals ridden with side effects.

Try matcha as a pick-me-up for the afternoon or anytime you need extra focus.

5. Cacao

Raw (naturally fermented) cacao and processed chocolate sold in bars and pieces are two completely separate foods. Processed chocolate is made with roasted cocoa, sugar, milk, and other ingredients that turn it into solid food.

Studies have found that by adding dairy this actually blocks the absorption of antioxidants in chocolate. While processed chocolate may taste delicious, the benefits of cacao are only found in the raw form.

Here are some benefits of Cacao:

  • Balance Hormonal Mood Swings: Cacao boosts brain levels of serotonin, the “feel-good” brain chemical. When women are experiencing PMS, serotonin levels drop dramatically. The benefits of cacao are proven to boost the brain levels of calming hormones and restore feelings of well-being.
  • Protects Your Heart and Prevents Cardiovascular Disease: Flavanols, an anti-inflammatory and heart-protective antioxidant found in raw cacao, may protect against cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of stroke, and help improve blood circulation. Cacao contains over 700 compounds and the complex antioxidants found in it known as polyphenols help reduce ‘bad cholesterol’ and prevent hardening of the arteries. It is mind-boggling to think that no heart drug on the market can come close to the protective benefits of cacao.
  • Cacao can prevent premature ageing – polyphenol antioxidants found in cacao belong to the same group of antioxidants like green tea and red wine. These anthocyanins (found in dark-coloured fruits) and catechins (found in green tea) protect our cells from premature oxidation or destruction and can keep us looking and feeling younger longer.
  •  Create loads of energy and combat fatigue with one of the highest concentrations of magnesium found in this natural food source. Magnesium also helps to protect against osteoporosis, reduce type II diabetes, and lowers blood pressure.
  •  Lower your blood pressure naturally, in a study of 470 men from the Zutphen Elderly Study, the benefits of cacao intake are found to reduce blood pressure by patients who took a small amount every evening.

How To Take Cacao:

It needs to be “Raw Cacao” and it comes in powder form, in cacao nibs or cacao butter. 

Cacao nibs are the cacao beans peeled and chopped up so you can snack on them or add them to dessert recipes (just like chocolate chips). The powder can be used as a chocolate drink or added to smoothies or any other recipe as a replacement for chocolate powder. 

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