All hail the Acai berry! Amazon natives have been using these berries for their various health benefits for many years, but they really exploded on the health scene when none other than Oprah Winfrey named these yummies as a superfood on her show. And of course, if they’re good enough for our girl, Oprah, we’re taking note.
Similar in size, shape and appearance to blueberries, unfortunately Acai aren’t as easily available. Acai palm trees are known to grow as high as 60 feet in the Brazilian rain forest, and due to these extreme heights, it’s extremely dangerous for the locals to collect the berries, and once the berries are harvested, the shipping process has to be extremely quick as they spoil easily.
Fortunately, Acai berries are now available in dried or fresh form in most health food stores. The berries can be eaten raw, juiced, or concentrated into a juice or powder, which will be sold in packets of in supplement tablets. The taste of raw Acai berry is compared to the taste of blackberries, but with a bitter edge, similar to dark chocolate.
Now, lets get down to why exactly you should be adding this superfood to your diet. First and foremost, most berries contain antioxidants, but Acai are thought to have more than your average strawberry, raspberry, and even blueberry. By protecting your body from oxidation, acai berries have the potential to work to prevent heart disease, diabetes and various conditions related to ageing.
Fatty acids are an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and Acai berries contain them in two forms: Omegas 3 and 6. Both of these are recommended by experts to be an essential part of good health, and getting a balance of each is a good preventative against conditions such as high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The cutely named baobab fruit has been used in Africa for centuries as a medicinal preventative, to treat againstfevers, malaria, and gastrointestinal problems which can be caused due to a lack of vitamic C deficiency. However, in many countries round the world, this fruit, which has a tangy, citrus like flavour, has been relatively unknown until now.
The most potential health benefit that you can expect to experience when adding baobab to your diet has been linked to the unusually high levels of vitamin C that this superfruit contains. Just a 100 gram serving on baobab fruit pulp has been reported to contain almost 10 times the amount you’d receive by eating the same amount in oranges, the usual fruit that people turn to to boost their vitamin C intake. Baobab fruit is so rich in vitamin C that it has been named one of the very best food sources for getting vitamin C in the world. And why is vitamin C so good for us? Foods that are rich in vitamin C are a brilliant aid in helping your body to form both collagen and elastin, two of the most structural proteins you can feed your skin both support and elasticity, which is especially good news for those trying to find ways of eradicating their wrinkles.
But it’s not just the vitamin C content that makes this fruit super: it also has positive effects on weight loss. Adding vitamin C rich foods, such as baobab fruit powder, will work to enhance your body’s fat burning capabilities during a workout. Not only will it aid in helping to burn fat, but its an excellent energy boost, and is the perfect ingredient to add to a pre-workout smoothie.
If that’s not all impressive enough, then this may sway you. Whether you’re fortunate to get your hands on fresh baobab pulp, or if you’re using concentrated baobab fruit powder, adding this superfruit to your food is going to feed your body with a combination of beneficial minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. If you’re not sure why minerals are good for us, just know that they act both individually and together to perform hundreds of tasks that make the body’s functions better, such as boosting immunity, skin repair and energy levels.
Now, how best to take baobab? Aduna has a range of baobab products that are going to make it super easy to get baobab into your diet. Just sprinkle some of their powders into your morning juices and smoothies, or add to yogurt or porridge. There are also yummy baobab raw energy bars, which not only contain baobab fruit powder, but also various other beneficial and healthy ingredients that aid a healthy diet and really leave you feeling amazing all day.
The idea of grass as food definitely conjures up images of eating our back gardens. But barley grass actually refers to the soft green shoots that grow on the barley plant. Consumption of these shoots can be traced back in history to way before 5000 BC as being the earliest grown sweet grass in the world, and it’s even been referred to as ‘nature’s best fast food’ due to the rich nutrients.
Indeed, there are loads of reasons your diet should include barley grass. Firstly, it’s a multi-nutrient rich super food that is absolutely loaded with a list of vitamins, such as vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E and K. It contains an abundance of electrolytes, such as magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium, along with essential minerals like zinc, iron and calcium. Barley grass is also rich in antioxidants and essential amino acids, and supplies valuable fibre to the body that keeps cholesterol at healthy levels.
These shoots are also a wonderful natural detoxifier, immunity booster and infection fighter: due to its vital components such as chlorophyll, vitamin B, iron and phycocyanin, barley grass helps encourage bone marrow to grow, and supports the creation of both white and red blood cells. This renewing effect of barley grass can also help prevent the signs of aging, and its glumatic acid in inhibits cravings, making us less likely to indulge in those addictive substances we’re trying to steer clear of, be they cigarettes, chocolate or worse.
The best way to pack barley grass into your diet? In powdered form. Simply add it to your morning smoothie, and you’ll barely be able to detect the ‘green’ taste against the fruit and you’ll just be left with a very green drink that’s bursting with so, so much goodness.
Millions of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians can’t be wrong: they’ve long known that beetroot is good for u. It’s especially efficient at keeping our blood clean, and helping both our liver and kidneys, two of our natural filtering systems. The phytochemical in beetroot is betaine, and betaine is an important nutrient for the prevention of chronic disease, and it has been proven to help with the protection of our internal organs. The blood that goes through our liver delivers nutrients to our entire body, so think about it like this: if we’re supporting those vital organs with beetroot, our bodies will be packed full of nutritious blood. And with so many tasty ways to enjoy beetroot, there’s a versatile way to include it in your diet even if you’re not a great fan of its sweet, earthy taste.
A popular way that people are enjoying beetroot at the moment is by juicing it. Juicing is a fantastic way of getting key nutrients from our fruits and veggies straight into liquid form, flushing our bodies with so much goodness, it really does leave our skin glowing.
Beetroot is also available in a powdered form, so if you want a quick and easy fix, add a teaspoon of the powder into your daily juices or breakfast smoothie and porridge bowls.
If you’re looking for healthy snacks that allow you to get your fix of superfoods, then these can also be a convenient way of eating your beets. Brands like Rude Health and Raw Health are great snack options. But one of our favourite ways to add beetroot into our daily diet is with this superb new Beetroot Sprinkle by Primrose’s Kitchen. You can add this super sprinkle into anything, from protein shakes, smoothies, and even pancakes mix.
Usually chocolate isn’t a word you’d associate with health. But the time has come to ditch those sugary, artificial chocolates, and turn your attention to cacao content. Cacao is the purest form of chocolate that you can eat, making it raw, and therefore less processed than both cocoa and the bars you’d usually associate with being ‘chocolate’. It may take some getting used to flavour wise, as we’ve sadly been force fed this illusion that chocolate should taste like those commercial bars that come wrapped in glossy packets.
Without all that added milk, sugar and fat, cacao can seem a little bitter on the palette, but with its seriously high antioxidant and magnesium content, its health properties are huge: for example, the high antioxidant, and essential vitamins and mineral level content found in cacao can help support a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure, improving the body’s blood flow, lowering cholesterol and in turn reducing plaque buildup on the artery walls.
Cacao bars are readily available in health food stores. Look for brands like the The Raw Chocolate Co, or try flavoured dark chocolate bars, like this selection of six from Barocco Chocco. For added goodness, Supermood has incorporated collagen to their dark chocolate bars to help give your skin a boost. Just one piece a day from their chunky bar will do the trick.
6. Camu Camu
You may have only just learnt about Acai, and now we have another superfruit for you to learn about: camu camu. Like Acai, the camu camu is grown in areas of the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, where the fruit and leaves of the plant have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Similar in appearance to a plum, it is the size of a lemon, is light orange and colour and it is packed full of essential amino acids, lucine and vitamin C.
People that have researched into the health benefits of camu camu have made claims of it holding anti-viral properties, helping with cold sores, herpes, shingles and even the dreaded common cold that plagues us all before we realise we’re run down. Other researchers have reported camu camu is great for keeping both eyes and gums healthy.
Camu camu also is a fantastic source of potassium, another key ingredient our bodies need for healthy functioning of both our heart and kidneys. And as if that wasn’t already enough, camu camu fruit also contains two types of acid that both work as antioxidants: gallic acid, and which is reported to have anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, and ellagic acid, which has been studied for its anti-cancer properties and anti-diabetes effects, though research is still in early stages here. If you can’t find the fruit fresh or dried in your local health food shop, you can still find it online.
7. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are the latest craze in healthy cooking and eating. Derived from the South American Salvia Hispanica plant, they were praised by the Aztecs and Mayans for their ability to provide sustainable energy–in fact, chia just so happens to be the Mayan word for ‘strength’. .
So why exactly are these tiny seeds so incredibly good for us? First and foremost, chia seeds are jam packed with antioxidants, which wage a war on our behalf to fight against the production of free radicals, which can damage molecules in our cells leading to ageing and diseases like cancer.
You wouldn’t guess so, but chia seeds also contain a decent portion of protein and essential amino acids, so that our bodies can use the protein in the chia when eaten. Protein has for a long time been considered vital for weight loss, being the most friendly nutrient in the diet by far. So for all of our vegan bunnies, chia seeds are a really excellent protein source for you when emitting animal products from your diet. They’ve also got you covered on the calcium front, as along with other nutrients, chia seeds hold nutrients vital for bone health.
Incorporating these tiny seeds into your diet is easy: in fact, we’ve got 20 awesome recipes for you! Just click here.
Yes, it sounds more like a disease than a food, but you should be incorporating chlorella into your diet. Why? Firstly, let’s talk vitamins and minerals. Chlorella is rich in vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, C and E, and chlorella will bring these to you in a highly natural form, unlike synthetic vitamin tablets. As with all dark green veggies, chlorella is bursting with magnesium, which is highly beneficial to improving blood sugar levels, keeping our hearts healthy, and is brilliant for relaxation, to just name a few of the wondrous pros. Chlorella also holds other important minerals, such as potassium, iron, and calcium.
Chlorella is also a great aid in detoxification, and digestion. In a world where toxins are coming at us in food, air, water, even beauty products and clothing, it’s important for us to give our body exactly what it needs to detox from all of these harmful substances. And chlorella has you covered, as it truly is a superhero food, working to bind with toxins like chemicals and heavy metals, and moving them swiftly out of our body. As for digestion, chlorella promotes the production of flora, bacteria and probiotics in our digestive systems, which is incredibly food for not only digestion but our overall health.
Chlorella is also proven to help with diseases, like cancer and diabetes, due to its rich carotenoid content. To get the most benefits from this superfood, choose a powder with a ‘broken cell wall’–it may sound bizarre, but the best chlorella has gone through a process to make the nutrients in chlorella even more digestible. Rainforest Foods is a great company for this, which you can then just sneak into morning juices and smoothies. Otherwise, supplements are a possible choice.
Like Chia seeds, flaxseed are yet more proof that sometimes, the best things come in small packages. The ancient Babylonians and Egyptians used flaxseeds in both food and medicine, and in the 8th century, this superseed got the real seal of royal approval: Charlemagne was such a fan of flaxseed and the powers it holds that he even passed laws enforcing his subjects to consume it on a regular basis.
Since then, news of its health benefits have spread worldwide, and with good reason! Flaxseeds hold more polyphenol antioxidants than blueberries, more omega-3 fatty acids than you find in salmon, and a rather unique fiber named mucilage, which is very rarely found in foods. Flaxseed also works to decrease the ratio of bad cholesterol in our bodies to good, and works to protect our blood vessels from potentially dangerous inflammation.
With flaxseed’s impressive omega-3 count, alongside its impressive volume of antioxidants and fiber, flaxseed provide a whole host of benefits to our body. And with a lack of antioxidants leading to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, two key risks of developing cancer, flaxseed has proven itself to be a warrior of preventing this from arising. As well as this, the fibers in flaxseed will work to help maintain a healthy digestive track. Not bad for a small seed, right?
Now let’s talk eating flaxseed. You can purchase flaxseed in its whole form, or ground down. Since the whole seeds can be rather hard to chew, ground flax is a great way of consuming flaxseed and ensuring you’re getting the maximum nutrient. Eating flaxseed is versatile, and easy–just sprinkle it over the top of your porridge, add it to homemade granola, or slip it into smoothies. There are loads of breads that put this seed on top or inside, and you can sprinkle these in salads, too.