The term superfood has been thrown around with an increasing frequency in recent years. Everything from blueberries to salmon have reaped the benefits of being deemed “superfoods,” resulting in consumers flocking to their nearest health food store in search of these golden items that will turn their health around. But before you break the bank trying to fill your pantry and fridge with a stock of superfoods, try giving these five easy (and potent) foods a shot first.
1. Chia Seeds
Cha-cha-cha-chia! Yes, we’re talking about the same little seeds that grow into those “adorable” little pets. Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids that our bodies cannot produce and thus are needed in our everyday diet. The ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) omega-3 fatty acid found in chia seeds helps reduce inflammation in the body, prevent and treat diseases of the heart, lowers high blood pressure, and lowers cholesterol. Additionally, it is a source of Vitamins A, B, E and D, and important minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Did I mention it’s also full of protein and fiber? This miracle food is one of the easiest to incorporate into your daily meals. Simply sprinkle a tablespoon or two in your cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, or if you are feeling adventurous, give this Energizing Chia Pudding a try for a truly guilt-free dessert.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil may quickly become your favorite superfood. It’s a rich and decadent healthy fat that can handle multiple tasks from serving as a cooking oil, to firming up homemade granola bars, or vegan pies. It also does wonders for your skin, but that is another post. Coconut oil helps prevent bacterial, fungal, and viral infections helping to bolster your immune system. It also stimulates thyroid function helping to boost your metabolism and increase your energy. For diabetes sufferers, coconut oil has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and protect against insulin resistance. So how can you work it in your daily diet? Let us count the ways! Substitute coconut oil in the place of butter or olive oil when cooking. Whip up a batch of these Raw Cacao Sea Salt Caramel Cups. Give your morning cup of joe a healthy (and filling) kick by adding some coconut oil to make bulletproof coffee.
3. Maca Root
Speaking of coffee, maca root is a superfood that can give you the same jumpstart of energy without the caffeine crash. An ancient plant belonging to the radish family, the maca root boasts benefits such as energy, endurance, hormone balancing, and increased libido and fertility. Replace your morning coffee with a smoothie containing a few tablespoons of maca root powder and a delicious medley of fruits for an easy and nutritious start to your day.
4. Nutritional Yeast
Moving on to a more savory option, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you are probably familiar with nutritional yeast, but you may not be aware what a nutritional powerhouse it is. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that is rich in B vitamins, and a great source for vegetarian protein. Just one heaping tablespoon can contain as much as eight grams of protein! Nutritional yeast’s claim to fame is its cheese-like flavor. Use it as a flavorful topping for salads and snacks, or combine it with a few other ingredients to create a mouthwatering sauce like this Cheesy Mac n’ Yeast.
5. Hemp Seeds
And to round out our five daily superfoods, let’s talk hemp. Hemp has received a bad rap for its association with marijuana, but it’s finally starting to be recognized for the wealth of health benefits it offers. Hemp is one of the best sources of vegetarian and vegan protein, making it a great option for protein powders. It also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids providing anti-inflammatory properties and metabolism support. But it doesn’t stop there! Read about all the benefits of hemp seeds here. The nutty flavor of hemp seeds makes a great ingredient for pesto, or in homemade granola. And if you are a creamy salad dressing lover, hemp creates a creamy base when blended up with a few herbs and spices. Try this Creamy Lemon Herb Dressing.
Image Source: Larry Jacobson/Flickr