Superfoods: Nature’s nutritional marvels

Goji berries and cacao nibs shaped in Yin Yang symbol

Just what are superfoods, and why should you want as many as possible on your nutritional team?

These are foods that pack a nutritional punch, are low in calories and can have an amazing impact on your health and well-being. Superfoods aren’t found in the frozen-food aisle, they don’t need to be fortified with added vitamins or minerals and you probably won’t see them advertised on TV.

While the jury may be out on just what the most “super” superfood is, here are some of my favorites.

  • Goji berries: These are said to be one of the most nutrient-rich foods you can find. They are ulta-high in potassium and vitamins A and C. They also contain significant amounts of essential amino acids, which make them an excellent source of protein.Goji berries look like red raisins, and taste like them, too, just not as sweet.  You can add them to yogurt or oatmeal, use them in baking or even as a topping on ice cream. And they make a great addition to a homemade trail mix.
  • Cacao: No, that’s not a typo! Cacao is real chocolate. Before all the roasting, processing and sweetening that went into your favorite chocolate bar, there was cacao. While cacao might make you think of chocolate, don’t expect it to exactly taste like it. Because it’s actually slightly bitter, it’s best when added to sweeter foods and makes an excellent addition to homemade cookies. My personal preference is raw cacao nibs.Cacao is high in antioxidants and is one of the best food sources of magnesium you can find, as well as being high in other valuable minerals.
  • Blueberries: It’s almost blueberry season, so be sure and not miss out on the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer benefits of this amazing powerhouse fruit. Research has shown the phytonutrients in blueberries provide all-around protection for all your body’s essential ‘operating systems’, including the cardiovascular, nervous and digestive systems, in addition to protecting your eyes from the effects of both oxidative stress and sunlight and helping to normalize blood sugar. A recent study has even found that consuming blueberries in the form of juice for 12 weeks improved their cognitive and memory scores.

And while it’s great to have fresh blueberries in season, it’s also been found that freezing does not diminish their antioxidant benefits – so you can enjoy the many benefits they provide all year round.

  • Coconut: You might call me a ‘coconut nut’, because I love to sprinkle the shredded, unsweetened and unsulfured variety on just about everything, from oatmeal to fish.  But then, coconut not only adds a wonderful, delicate flavor to all kinds of dishes, but is a great source of fibers, vitamins and minerals. It’s also got some truly incredible health benefits. Long used in traditional medicine to treat all kinds of conditions, it has now been shown to possess an impressive range of healing and immune-boosting powers, and is considered a panacea for numerous health problems, from osteoporosis and kidney stones to heart disease and epileptic seizures. No wonder the coconut palm is known as the “tree of life!”

Now just think of the super-health benefits you can have by simply adding all of these superfoods to your diet!

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