Superfoods: what are they, do you need them and how to get the best ones

I have to admit: I love following new trends in food/wellness industry and I will try almost everything. Don’t judge.

Just to say I was the first to try maca when the only place where you could buy it was a local shop selling all foods from Latin America, I don’t even know where I had my first spirulina and chia seeds ‘stash’ but I know I don’t regret it and yes, I always hope the next super food will be the ultimate recipe to eternal youth, health and, the most important of all: performance.

Yesterday I was listening to Rich Roll’s podcast with  Darin Olien, a superfoods hunter, second time guest on the show and it confirmed my view on why and how we should incorporate super foods info our daily routine.

What are superfoods?

The term super foods is a relatively new word in the fitness/wellness industry to describe something that is not new at all. Super foods are marketed as almost miraculous because they  have higher concentration of nutrients and antioxidants in comparison to fruits, vegetables and oils we use normally.

Of course you can argue that blueberries or beets are super foods we just don’t know enough about them but from what I see super foods term is linked to algae, plants,seeds, medicinal mushrooms, etc that exist in different cultures for a long time and most of them have been used for centuries for their extraordinary properties. For example maca, originally from Peru, is a root used mainly for its fertility and energy properties. Now with diffusion of information and different ways to study them, super foods are being recognized also in the western culture. They become a new fad, a new trend.

Super foods are perfect response for a general approach in this DNAge :

we want things fast, we want to see results even faster and we want everything to be cheap.

Good things don’t come easy and shortcuts are good only for keyboards.

Bear in mind that super foods come often from distant third world countries. Cultivation and harvesting requires special conditions but it can be a great opportunity for the locals for a good and honest job. In addition there is a question of quality control and transport.

I find it curious that we are willing to protect the archaeological sites and preserve ancient texts, paintings and sculptures but when it comes to this new (to us) plants that has been here for a long time we are ready to exploit the nature and the people who are taking care of it. I see the ‘raise of the super foods’ as a chance for us to take care of indigenous people of countries such us Peru, Brazil, etc by giving them a chance to earn a living and help the environment.

If you want a good quality maca powder you should be willing to pay a decent price for who is cultivating it. Maybe if you can’t or you won’t spend a fair price for maca/chia seeds/acai  you could opt out for local fruits and vegetables?

How to choose the best super food for you?

For the reasons I mentioned above super foods that cost little next to nothing should make you suspicious. Take a 5 minutes of your time to check how the company that delivers you the super food works and where the plant is grown (few years ago there was a case of Chinese made spirulina..)

What effect are you looking for? most of the super foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, is there something you’re deficient of?  Maybe you lack energy or the contrary, you suffer from adrenal fatigue or anxiety? Take a look for individual properties of each super food and think what would suit you best.

Think how could you incorporate the super foods into your daily diet, for example chia seeds have no taste so you can easily put them into your water or porridge while chlorella or spirulina have quite distinctive taste so you could consider adding them into your sweet smoothie but if you’re not a smoothie fan: choose a pill.

Here is a short list of super foods that I would personally give a go. I don’t use all of them all the time but almost always I have one of them in my pantry.

Chia seeds

  • High in fiber
  • Rich in the plant-based ALA omega-3 fatty acids that  are part of cell membranes and are important for heart health, the health of your cellular walls

Maca

  • Medicinal plant from Perù
  • Rich in fiber, vit C, copper, Iron, potassium
  • Traditionally consumed for fertility, allegedly can help with mood swings and symptoms of menopause

Spirulina

  • Gives you a good dose of chlorophyll, protein, iron, Vitamin C, D, A, E, B12, folic acid, potassium, calcium and all essential amino acids. My personal super hero
  • Really distasteful or as someone call it ‘acquired taste’. Try to blend it with dates or date syrup

Moringa

  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Allegedly have potent anti-cancer properties (I can’t confirm that as it’s not used widely in traditional cancer treatments)
  • Boosts your immune system and detoxify your body.

Chlorella

  • loaded with nutrients needed for many body functions.
  • daily consumption of chlorella has been linked to lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Because it’s high in chlorophyll, it also helps to control hunger cravings,promotes cleansing and healing in the body and even protect DNA against fried foods.
  • When I decide to buy chlorella I choose pill version for the same reason I use spirulina in that form

Matcha green tea

  • Packed with antioxidants
  • Especially good for purifying your liver
  • You want to invest in a good quality matcha green powder!

 

I’d like to just add one thing you might take in consideration before buying your chia seeds or another green powder. These plants are supposed to help you and give you the maximum amount of nutrients in the minimal dose not to do the job for you.

Of course smoking a cigarette after having a cup of green tea might be a bit exaggerated example but the point is: are you willing to do your part or are you waiting for a miracle?

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