(If you prefer to watch a video on my superfoods, then check out this video I did on YouTube, there are a few surprises that are not mentioned below).
It's not difficult to empty your wallet on the latest and trendiest super foods on the market imported from distant lands. While these foods have absolutely incredible health benefits that certainly make them superfood-worthy (coconut oil, raw cacao, goji berries), this post is about the forgotten and inexpensive ones that you might be passing by while grocery shopping.
What makes a food a superfood-worthy? High level of antioxidants, great source of vitamins and minerals that are proven in studies to be effective at everything from balancing blood sugar to reducing the risk of many different types of cancer. Here are my top 5 favourite superfoods:
1. Kefir: The "champagne of yogurt" is what this effervescent product of fermentation has been referred to and I agree! It provides you with a megawatt dose of active live bacteria. In fact, 1 tbsp provides 5 billion good bacteria and 240mL has up to 88 billion - that's a whole lot of creepy crawlies!
This good bacteria is excellent for curing digestive problems such as ulcers, bloating, constipation and reducing bronchitis and pneumonia. Good bacteria is essential to a healthy strong immune system. Here's more on kefir: http://www.joyoushealth.ca/2010/01/04/kefir-is-a-super-food/ and a delicious muesli recipe with kefir:http://www.joyoushealth.ca/2011/11/18/homemade-energizing-breakfast-muesli-recipe/
2. Whole egg: A wonderful source of low cost high quality protein. Notice I said, the "whole" egg? That's right, you need to eat the whole egg to get this whack of nutritional benefits and this just scratches the surface!
Source of choline: Important for brain health (eat the yolk), brain and memory development in the fetus
Tryptophan: Important for serotonin production. Helps with sleep and relaxation
Eye health: Carotenoids in yolk prevent macular degeneration.
Really great for satiety keeping your belly quiet till your next meal.
Source of lecithin (in the yolk) which reduces absorption of cholesterol!! No eggs, do NOT raise cholesterol levels.
An animal food that is actually anti-inflammatory. Source of vitamins A and E, B vitamins B-6, B-12 and folate and of course, iron.
3. Beets and beet greens. These are such a wonderful fall/winter vegetable. Their natural sugary taste will satisfy that sweet tooth.
Incredibly detoxifying: Thanks to a chemical in beets called betaine which stimulates the function of liver cells, protects the liver and enhancing detoxification.
The beet greens are drenched in nutrients. In fact, 1/4 cup of the greens contains as much Potassium as 3 bananas! They are very high in vitamin A, C, K (skin and bone building).
More on the greens: High in chlorophyll which is a blood cleanser, wonderful for chelating heavy metals.
Anti-inflammatory action which has been linked to reduction of tumour cell growth in human studies through the inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes.
Great source of folate and fibre.
Try this delicious apple carrot beet slaw recipe: http://www.joyoushealth.ca/2012/02/03/apple-beet-carrot-quinoa-slaw/
4. Sauerkraut.This superfood dates back as far as 6,000 years ago, but it's a new experience for many! I love sauerkraut with some crackers or as a side dish - it goes with pretty much anything! Here's why I love sauerkraut:
Good bacteria (immune building) like lactobacillus and an amazing source of digestive enzymes.
Less expensive than probiotics.
High in acetylcholine, a compound known to regulate the bowels, calm the nervous system, improve sleep patterns, and lower blood pressure.
Keep in mind, not all sauerkraut is created equal. So no, that sauerkraut at the hot dog stand isn't going to give you these benefits! This is my favourite brand because it's raw and unpasteurized. This is important because the good bacteria remains intact. It's also a wonderful choice for people who have trouble digesting raw cabbage.
5. Apples: There is a lot of truth to an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Check out these health benefits and this just scratches the surface.
Lung health: Some research shows colon and breast cancer, but apples stand out in lung cancer prevention and asthma prevention.
Blood sugar regulation: The polphenols in apples help to activate the muscle cell insulin receptors and drive more glucose into the cell for utilization.
Heart Healthy: Both pectin and polyphenols help to lower cholesterol. Apples are a wonderful source of anti-inflammatory quercitin. In fact, one study showed that C-reactive protein was reduced after eating 1 apple. C-RP is a protein linked to inflammation.
Apples are my absolute favourite fruit! As you can tell from the front page of my website. Here is a delicious recipe that tastes like a cross between rice pudding and apple crisp, plus it's SO easy to make: http://www.joyoushealth.ca/2012/02/13/apple-spice-rice-bake-recipe/