“A healthy outside starts from the inside”. -Robert Urich
I don’t know about you, but I feel like superfoods have really stepped up their game. I remember when kale was one of the top superfoods and then flaxseed, chia seeds, acai, and coconut everything entered the scene. Discovering new superfoods can be a lot to keep up with, so I wanted to compile a list of some (less common) superfoods that you may or may not have tried.
8 Superfoods (in no particular order)
Maca root, aka lepidium meyenii, is an adaptogenic herb that originated from the Andes Mountains in Peru. Maca root helps with fertility (men and women), hormone balance, energy, stamina, mood, and overall health. Maca is rich in amino acids, fiber, and key nutrients (b vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, cooper, selenium, and manganese). Maca root has a mild taste so the powder can be added to virtually anything from smoothies, smoothie bowls, protein balls, oatmeal, even dips like guacamole or stirred into hummus. Here is a good article if you want more information.
While hemp seeds are from the cannabis plant, they only contain trace amounts of THC. Hemp seeds are rich in two essential fatty acids (linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3)). They are also rich in protein and key nutrients including vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc. Hemp seeds can help with brain health, focus, blood sugar stability, digestion, and heart health. I love sprinkling hemp seeds or hearts on my salads or soup. Check out this great article for more information.
Golden milk tea, turmeric milk, tantric turmeric kombucha… I don’t think turmeric is going out of style anytime soon. This is one of my favorite spices frequently used in Indian dishes. Turmeric has been shown to help reduce inflammation, arthritis/joint pain, slow blood clotting (decreasing your risk of heart attacks, strokes, deep vein thrombosis, etc), and improve mood. Turmeric can be tough to cook with because it will stain anything it touches. I love putting fresh turmeric in sauces, smoothies, golden milk tea, hummus, and soups (but keep it in glass and wash immediately). Depending on what you are using turmeric for, it can be tough to get the therapeutic dose of turmeric from your diet. Therefore, this is one of my favorite supplements.
Sumac is a spice often used in Mediterranean or Middle Eastern dishes. Sumac is rich in antioxidants (primarily vitamin C) ranking very high on the ORAC chart. Not only will it boost your immune system, it has natural antimicrobial properties, meaning it can help ward off bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It can also help with heart health. This spice has a lemony taste and will add beautiful color to any dish. Here are 7 sumac spice recipes.
This is the superfruit from Africa’s “tree of life”; it is also found in Australia and Arabia. This superfruit is rich in vitamin c, potassium, calcium, b vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. It is also rich in prebiotics/fiber. In simple terms, prebiotics help feed the good bacteria in our gut. Baobab fruit can be consumed as a powder, chew, or oil. Baobab oil is used cosmetically as a natural moisturizer, anti-aging due to its high vitamin c concentration, and it helps reduce dark circles under eyes. It may also help with eczema and psoriasis. Baobab powder can be added into your morning smoothie to help with macronutrients, micronutrients, and gut health.
Maqui is another superfruit primarily from Chile and Argentina. These dark purple berries are rich in anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and balance blood sugar. It is thought that maqui berries have up to 30x the antioxidants as acai berries. This is my favorite powder to sneak into baking, smoothies, or beverages such as coconut or almond milk.
Moringa powder reminds me of matcha powder. This powder is derived from a small tree in India, Pakistan, and Nepal. This superfood is rich in amino acids, vitamin A, C, E, calcium, potassium, and protein. It is rich in antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation, improve heart health, protect the liver/detox, support brain health, help with healing, and reduce signs of aging. This powder can of course be added to smoothies or consumed as a tea.
We often spit out watermelon seeds or opt for seedless watermelon, but should we change our ways? Yes! Watermelon seeds are a nutrient powerhouse. They are rich in magnesium, amino acids, lycopene, b vitamins, fiber, zinc, manganese, and iron. These super seeds are great for your heart, brain, hair, skin, and nails. I recommend pealing the seeds before you consume them. If you like convenience, you must try Go Raw sprouted watermelon seeds.
Which of these superfoods have you tried? Do you have a favorite recipe with some of these superfoods? Share them with the group!
In good health,
Kristin Oja, DNP, FNP-C, CPT