Joyous Blog

5 Forgotten and Cheap Superfoods

Feb 20, 2012 BY Joy McCarthy

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, such as coconut oil, raw cacao and goji berries, have incredible health benefits that certainly make them superfood-worthy, this post is about the forgotten and inexpensive ones that you might be passing by while grocery shopping.

What makes a food "superfood-worthy"?

In order for a food to be claimed "superfood-worthy", it typically has a high level of antioxidants and is a 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. But that's not to say you need to blow your bank account to achieve all of these amazing health benefits. You can find all of these same benefits in these 5 forgotten and cheap superfoods below!

Top 5 Favourite Forgotten & Cheap Superfoods

1. Kefir

This is the "champagne of yogurt". I did not coin that though – it's actually what this effervescent product of fermentation has been referred to and I whole heartedly 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 awesome creepy crawlies in your gut! 

This good bacteria is excellent for curing digestive problems such as ulcers, bloating, constipation and reducing bronchitis and pneumonia and is essential to a healthy strong immune system. 

2. Eggs (the whites AND the yolk!)

Eggs are a wonderful low-cost source of high quality protein. Notice I said, the egg whites AND the yolk? That's right, you need to eat the whole egg to get all of these amazing nutritional benefits (and this just scratches the surface on all of the nourishing properties eggs provide)

  • Source of choline – important for brain health, brain and memory development in the fetus
  • Tryptophan –  important for serotonin production, helps with sleep and relaxation
  • Eye health – carotenoids in the yolk prevent macular degeneration.
  • Really great for satiety – keeping your belly quiet until your next meal.
  • Source of lecithin which reduces absorption of cholestero (and 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

These are some of my favourite egg-containing recipes:

3. Beets (and Beet Greens)

Beets are such a wonderful fall/winter vegetable. Their natural sweet taste will satisfy that sweet tooth in no time! See for yourself and try my Beet Strawberry Muffins!

These are some of the things I love about beets:

  • Incredibly detoxifying – thanks to a chemical in beets called betaine which stimulates the function of liver cells, protects the liver and enhances 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).
  • Beets green are high in chlorophyll which is a blood cleanser and 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

These are some of my favourite beet-containing recipes:

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:

  • Contains good bacteria like lactobacillus which is an amazing source of digestive enzymes and helps to boost the immune system
  • 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! If you're buying sauerkraut, you'll want to look for  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. Otherwise, you can make it yourselfvery easily at home!

5. Apples

There is a lot of truth to “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Check out these health benefits!

  • Lung health – some research shows apples can also help to prevent 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.

Soak up these amazing health benefits by eating my Apple Spice Pancakes with Raspberry Compote!

If you wish to keep learning about forgotten and cheap superfoods, watch my YouTube video below (there are a few surprises that are not mentioned below!)

Share some of your favourite superfoods in the comments below!

Feb 20, 2012 BY Joy McCarthy
Lauren   •   February 21, 2012

Hi Joy, I follow your blog all the time, and really enjoy it. I'm a Toronto girl as well, but am currently living in Buenos Aires, and finishing my Distance Ed course to become an RHN. It's been a bit of a challenge because their food selection is somewhat limited. I bought some sauerkraut the other day, and there are 3 ingredients: white vinegar, cabbage & salt. I looked at your favourite brand and they promote 'no vinegar'. Does the addition of vinegar cancel out the health benefits? Thanks!

Joy McCarthy   •   February 23, 2012

The bacteria is not going to be as high when it has vinegar. Congrats on doing the program via distance ed!!

Naila@Juhub_Foods   •   February 21, 2012

All of these foods are easy to in-corporate into our diet; if not already part of our diet! Beets are my absolute favorite! Quick & easy recipe: Oven roasted beets! Cut 2-3 beets into bit size pieces, drizzle olive oil, add salt & fresh or dried herb of choice. Place on baking sheet, and roast @ 400-450F for 30-45min. They become so much sweeter & are delicious! . Great & easy side dish.

Joy McCarthy   •   February 23, 2012

Great suggestion, thanks! I would use coco oil for roasting at that temp so the olive oil doesn't go rancid ;)

tamara   •   February 21, 2012

Thank you again, (and as always) Joy for more wonderful information and tips on super foods! I enjoyed the youtube video as well as the post and have picked up some helpful information. Keep hearing how wonderful beets are, although I am not fond of them (they taste too much like a root to me). However I will try the beet greens, my husband can have the root part! Also thought the red cabbage tip was good to know. Always find your posts wonderful!

Joy McCarthy   •   February 23, 2012

Hi Tamara! Have you tried roasting it with some garlic? you might like it better... they get sweeter when you roast them. Or just stick with the greens! Thank you for your comment.

Theresa   •   February 23, 2012

I grew up eating homemade sauerkraut! We have it frequently (unpasturized).


Sarah   •   March 6, 2012

What about Edamame? Do you know much about that??


kars   •   November 12, 2012

great article, fully agree ! coconut VIRGIN oil is the good and active one (just cold pressed). and not the regular (and cheaper) coconut oil: its nutrients have been bleached and burned while producing the oil. a huge difference.


Magna St. Hilaire   •   March 21, 2013

Hi Joy. I just found this site and I am so hooked. Question about beet & it's greens- is is best cooked or eaten raw like spinach? Also, does boiling the beet root beet compromise it's nutritional benefits? Many thanks, ~Magna

Joy McCarthy   •   March 24, 2013

Any form of heat will reduces the live enzymes and lower some of the minerals and vitamins -- depending how it's cooked.

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