Goji, cacao, maca, and acai are all among some of the most beautiful and elite superfoods out there, but they’re not the entire piece to the health food puzzle. Sure, these exotic foods are higher in nutrients than some common fruits and vegetables, but you can’t live on superfoods alone. Beyond the superfood hype lies a powerful realm of real foods just waiting to nourish you on every single level. And the best part? They’re much less expensive (and certainly more filling) than bags of pricey powders.  Real foods you might think of as boring are just bursting with nutrients that can enhance vitality, boost brain power, extend lifespan, and might even shrink your waistline too. Put down those Brazilian berries (at least, just for this week), and eat these real foods instead:

1. Blackberries

Did you know that blackberries are higher in antioxidants than blueberries? They’re the perfect “real food” replacement to maqui or acai berries if you’re on a budget. Blackberries also contain more fiber, anthocynanins, polyphenols, and are lower on the glycemic index than blueberries. Blackberries actually contain almost a third more antioxidants than blueberries do! They make a killer breakfast smoothie, topping for oatmeal, or a wonderful base for a healthy ice cream like this Vegan Blackberry Ice Cream, which is fat-free and low in sugar.

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2. Oats

Maca may be an incredible energizer and hormone-booster, but oats are a very close second.  Oats are higher in fiber than maca and even quinoa. Oats also contain B vitamins, magnesium, iron, and special nutrients known as beta-glucans that lower cholesterol and actually block fat storage in the body.  Tired of your morning bowl of oatmeal? Try this delicious vegan slow-cooker oatmeal tomorrow. I’m willing to bet it will help rekindle your oatmeal flame!

3. Carrots

Though goji berries are the highest source of Vitamin A out there, carrots are a fantastic replacement. All you need is one cup of carrots a day to get your daily dose of Vitamin A (beta-carotene) and Vitamin C.  Carrots are also powerful anti-cancer veggies since they enhance the immune system and help your body fight off disease and illness.  Try roasting your carrots to bring out their sweetness or try them in the form of a delicious raw carrot soup.

4. Almonds

Forget those pricey protein powders and treat yourself to some raw almonds instead! Almonds contain 7 grams of protein in just one ounce (about 20 nuts) and they are a top notch source of Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and fiber. They make a fantastic energy bar in their raw form, but feel free to add them to smoothies, salads, oatmeal, or some delicious coconut yogurt!

5. Spinach

Kale may be the king of the leafy green department, but spinach beats out kale in protein and  iron content. Spinach is also an incredible source of folate, which is important for a woman’s health. If you can’t afford spirulina or don’t like kale, don’t sweat it! Just add a little spinach to your day and you’ll be good to go! Need recipes? Here are 21 ideas to get you started with spinach right now.

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6. Red Peppers

Yes, camu camu berries are the number one source of Vitamin C on the planet, but you know what comes in at a close second? Sweet red peppers, which are just bursting with Vitamin C! One red bell pepper contains over 330 percent of your daily Vitamin C requirements. Slice up one with the core removed and have it for an afternoon snack or add some to your lunch time salad. Or if you’re feeling really creative, add them to a raw pizza for a healthy indulgence.

Superfoods are no doubt a fantastic way to add a boost to your nutrition plan, but they aren’t required to live a satisfying and healthy life. Try adding some of these real foods to your menu more often and save the exotic superfoods for a special splurge.

Lead Image Source: Heather McClees

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