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Celebrate Superfoods

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What drives you, inspires you, and brings out the best in you? The choices we make when it comes to food determine how we feel in that moment, later that day, and long into the future. A strong mind and a healthy body are the foundation for building our best lives.

Superfoods, a non-medical term for nutrient-rich foods that provide “super” health benefits, naturally provide us with large quantities of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, and/or healthy fats. Like a superhero swooping in to save the day, superfoods help improve our health and possibly even fight illness.

According to registered dietitian Whitney Hussain, “Many superfoods can be included in our diet by incorporating them into smoothies, swapping them for typical cooking oils, or by eating them on their own.” Most are easily found online or at your local health food store and make great additions to a well-rounded diet.

So, in celebration of the almighty superfoods, try these power foods to help build a super you!

Acai berry

Traditional use

Acai berries didn’t arrive in the Western world until the 1990s, but they have been a dietary staple in Central and South America for thousands of years.

Nutritional benefits

High in antioxidants, acai berries may help guard against illness and aging. In some studies, acai berries have been shown to improve vascular function. Animal and/or test tube studies reveal that acai may also help boost brain function, improve cholesterol levels, and possess anticancer effects.

How to eat it

Acai berries have an earthy flavour and are soaked and mashed into pulp to make them edible. A popular component of energy drinks, jams, jellies, and sorbet, acai berries are also available as supplements, juice, powder, or frozen.

Avocado oil

Traditional use

Extracted from the pulp of avocado fruit, avo oil is packed with nutritional benefits. Sweet and buttery, it can be ingested or used as a topical moisturizer.

Nutritional benefits

Avocado oil is high in oleic acid (a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid) and lutein (an antioxidant beneficial for eyes). Studies have shown it may enhance the absorption of certain nutrients.

How to eat it

Ideal for cooking, avocado oil is delicious as a marinade or condiment. Choose an extra-virgin organic brand that is cold-pressed and unrefined for optimal benefits.

Cacao

Traditional use

Cacao seeds’ medicinal use dates back hundreds of years. They remain popular in both sweet and savoury foods—most notably, chocolate.

Nutritional benefits

Cacao is high in antioxidants and may promote heart health and have anticancer properties. Full of benefits, it may help improve cardiovascular function and reduce inflammation.

How to eat it

Available as a powder or “nibs,” cacao is the main component of chocolate. It is delicious in oatmeal and smoothies, or whipped with avocado for some creamy goodness.

Camu camu

Traditional use

This nutritious South American berry was traditionally made into juice. It has been used medicinally for hundreds of years for a variety of health benefits.

Nutritional benefits

The skin, seeds, and pulp of camu camu are rich in antioxidants. It is high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and antioxidants thought to protect our tissues from stress, and is exceptionally high in vitamin C.

How to eat it

Tart and fruity, camu camu is delicious in health drinks, smoothies, and teas. It is commonly processed into juice, capsules, pulp, powder, or purée.

Coconut oil

Traditional use

Derived from the flesh of coconuts, coconut oil has been used for centuries around the world.

Nutritional benefits

A flavourful oil containing a unique combination of fatty acids, coconut oil is being studied for its potential role in helping protect against heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Hussain notes, “Research shows coconut oil may reduce belly circumference and is easily absorbed in our bodies.”

How to eat it

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and melts when heated. It can be used as a cooking oil, in dressings and marinades, or as a healthy addition to smoothies, yogurt, and coffee.

Elderberry

Traditional use

Traditionally, elderberry was used to heal burns and fight infections. Elderberry can be unsafe if not prepared correctly, and Hussain advises, “If you’re planning to consume this, or other superfoods, consult health experts to avoid negative side effects or interactions with common medications.”

Nutritional benefits

Full of flavonoids and antioxidants, elderberries may reduce inflammation and boost immunity. They may also combat symptoms of colds and flu, reducing symptoms and duration of illness in a recent study.

How to eat it

These deliciously tart berries come frozen, in powder, or as a supplement or extract. They can be brewed in teas or infused into syrups to unlock their health benefits.

Green powders

Traditional use

Green powders are nutrient-rich powder combinations made from plants, fruits, and veggies to give us a super dose of health benefits.

Nutritional benefits

Research shows that green powders may lower blood pressure. They contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutritious elements, depending on combinations and quantities.

How to eat it

Green powders make excellent additions to smoothies and are easily incorporated into bars, cereals, breads, and muffins. Green powders are widely available in a variety of flavours and with varying amounts of nutrients, so consult your natural health practitioner to choose the safest, healthiest option for you.

Moringa

Traditional use

Various parts of the moringa tree have been used medicinally for hundreds of years.

Nutritional benefits

Moringa is a great source of vitamins C and A, protein, and antioxidants. Studies show that moringa may support healthy liver, kidney, heart, testes, and lung tissue.

How to eat it

Sweet and slightly bitter, moringa in its powdered form is easily dissolved in water and can be added to yogurt, smoothies, and beverages to incorporate its health benefits.

While superfoods on their own are tasty and nutritious, Hussain reminds us to stay well rounded and moderate when it comes to our food choices. Foods may be high in specific nutrients; however, “it’s important to include other nutrient dense selections in your diet so other valuable vitamins and minerals are not neglected.”

So, in celebration of the spectacular superfoods, raise a glass of superfood-filled-smoothie and toast to better health and wellness.

The unsung heroes of superfoods

These nine foods have received less hype but are just as super.

Unsung superfood Health attributes
almonds contain protein, fibre, and healthy fats
beets thought to help promote cardiovascular health
bell peppers contain vitamin C and antioxidants
black beans may help lower cholesterol and fight heart disease
broccoli high in vitamin C
soluble fibre may help manage blood sugar
peppermint thought to aid irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
(unhulled) sesame seeds contain calcium, protein, and fibre
walnuts contain omega-3s and protein

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