I recently had a reader write to me and ask for my top five superfoods. I took a look on the site to see if I’d written about them before, thinking I’d just send her a link. I found a top 10 list from awhile ago, but I thought I’d update it here with a quick and easy list of my latest four.
A note on superfoods: These foods are trendy right now, but I personally think we should use them in moderation. Although adding a superfood to the diet here and there is a good way to bone-up on some needed nutrients, producers have started to call every food under the sun a superfood as a marketing gimmick.
Just because a food is good for you doesn’t make it a superfood. But since there’s no official definition of superfoods, there’s not much we can do. So, buyer beware — just because the packaging calls something a superfood doesn’t make it so (I don’t care how many antioxidants a juice contains, if it has colouring and sugar in it there’s nothing super about it!).
Spirulina/Chlorella: An incredibly nutrient-dense food containing omega-3 fats, lots of minerals (including about five times more calcium than whole milk), a complete protein profile and high vitamin E and beta carotene content. It’s also a good source of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants that’s high in magnesium. (All these nutrients are highly absorbable.) It has potent immune stimulating effects as well as anti-viral activity.
Sea Vegetables: Sea veggies — like kelp, nori, dulse and kombu — are rich in minerals necessary for the functioning of the human body. As our soils become more and more mineral deficient and our diets come to include more and more demineralized processed foods, we’re literally dying for minerals! Sea vegetables contain a highly absorbable form of iodine, a mineral needed for proper thyroid functioning.
Rose Hips: Rose hips have become my favorite natural source of vitamin C. With much of the vitamin C supplements on the market coming from genetically modified corn, it’s good to know there’s still a clean source out there. Rose hips contain a whopping 2000 mg of the vitamin per every 100 g — that’s over 40 times more vitamin C than is in an orange!
Coconut Oil: People are usually a little iffy about including saturated fat in their diets, even though we need it for our body to function. So skip animal sources and indulge in this veggie source, instead. The predominant saturated fat in coconut is called lauric acid, which is used by the body to fight pathogenic microbes like viruses and bacteria. Coconut oil is also easily digested and is preferentially shuttled into the cells for energy, rather than stored as fat. And never mind the misinformation about saturated fat being bad for the heart — a recent study found patients recovering from heart attacks had better heart health in the long run when they were fed coconut oil. (That you, Joy McCarthy for this excellent superfood suggestion!)
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, a Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef living in Toronto.