Superfoods or Superheroes?
Everyday foods with extraordinary benefits
When it comes to healthy eating, there are endless amounts of fad diets, detoxes, and buzzwords to go around. Some seem to work, while others have their moment in the spotlight, only to fade away with the next new fad. Cityview has been exploring different trends in health and wellness in some of our recent issues to try to discover which ones might be worth looking into for your own personal health.
One buzzword that’s been gracing the description of many natural health and wellness products globally is one you may be familiar with: superfoods. Merriam-Webster actually defines a superfood as “a food that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.” The five superfoods that this article will be exploring are all easy to find, no matter where you do your grocery shopping, easy to incorporate into recipes, and have been reliable sources of nutrition for years.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar has been claimed to help with almost anything you can think of. I’ve heard tale of people who rinse their hair with it, use it in salad dressings, and gargle it with honey to help with laryngitis. But what is it about this potent liquid that makes it seem so magical? Dr. Barrett Debuert of Knoxville’s The Health Factory and The Fittest Kitchen shares that first of all “Always consume this superfood with the mother. You will know if it contains the mother if it is cloudy/raw. Clear Apple Cider Vinegar is not what you want. Consuming Apple Cider Vinegar with the mother ensures you are getting good bacteria and living enzymes.” If used correctly, the good bacteria and living enzymes found within Apple Cider Vinegar can help promote a healthy digestive system and clearer skin.
Joe Defranco, co-owner of Go Nutrition & Gifts, explains even further that Apple Cider Vinegar can specifically help your digestive system by increasing stomach acid. Increased stomach acid can help digest food better and faster, especially in individuals with naturally low levels of stomach acid.
Dr. Barrett and Defranco both agree that Apple Cider Vinegar should be diluted when consumed. Dr. Barrett suggests taking one to two teaspoons mixed with water daily for long-term benefits. You can also try incorporating it into your daily diet. The Fittest Kitchen provided us with a quick and easy recipe for a Detox Dressing through their free, online recipe subscription.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 6-8 drops liquid stevia, or sweetener to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- This dressing is a great option for salads in the summer with kale and a variety of other greens, nuts, and your favorite citrus and berries.
Turmeric is a lot of things. It’s a root in the same family as ginger, and it’s also nature’s anti-inflammatory. Dr. Barrett says that: “Turmeric has the ability to reduce systemic inflammation (inflammation throughout the entire body), even in the brain and nervous system.” He enjoys turmeric in his daily diet by juicing a fresh piece, but many have started taking this superfood in supplement form.
“Most experts think that it’s the Curcumin component of Turmeric that is the most important aspect of the herb,” says Defranco. “The higher the concentration of curcuminoids in the product, the more effective the product is for inflammation.”
Turmeric has been a saving grace for me in my personal health journey. I was diagnosed with Late-Stage Lyme Disease in December, and my most prominent daily symptom has consistently been joint pain caused by inflammation. I was used to taking anti-inflammatories on a daily basis, and was resigned to that reality being my foreseeable future. However, shortly after I began taking the Turmeric supplement my healthcare practitioner prescribed me, I found that I rarely had to take other anti-inflammatories anymore.
Even though you probably need to consume a more concentrated version of Turmeric, such as juicing the root directly or taking it in supplement form, in order to enjoy its full benefits, using it as a spice in dishes can still provide low-levels of anti-inflammatory benefits. It can be a wonderful addition to a homemade curry or Thai-inspired dishes.
Not only is Green Tea one of the safest ways to consume caffeine, it’s also full of antioxidants. According to Defranco, “Green Tea is well studied and researched and found to be very high in cancer-fighting antioxidants. The main cancer-fighting component of Green Tea is a substance called EGCG. Other notable components are the polyphenols found in it, which also help with inflammation.” You can purchase Green Tea in either a bag or loose leaf form for drinking, but also as concentrated capsules.
One of the most popular ways to enjoy Green Tea currently is by drinking Matcha, a variety of the tea itself. Most of the time it comes in a finely ground, bright green powder. Matcha is more concentrated than your average cup of Green Tea.
Matcha lattes have become popular menu options at coffee shops all across the world. The Fittest Kitchen provides a recipe to create your own Matcha latte at home!
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 teaspoon matcha powder
- 1/2 tablespoon raw honey
- Add the matcha powder into a mug. Pour the hot water over the matcha and whisk rapidly with either a wooden matcha whisk or small metal whisk for 1-2 minutes to break up any small pieces while the tea “blooms.” Froth milk in milk frother, then pour over matcha tea. If you do not have a milk frother, heat the bloomed matcha tea and almond milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until tea starts bubbling around the edges; then, remove from heat. Stir in honey and sweeten to taste. Pour into your favorite mug, serve and enjoy!
Ginger has always been one of my favorite spices and flavors, but this little root can do far more than bring a smile to someone’s face. Much like its cousin Turmeric, Ginger has some anti-inflammatory properties. But one of its most popular uses is actually for a healthy digestive system. Dr. Barrett expounds that “consuming raw ginger as a whole food source helps digestion, bloating, acid reflux and helps raise metabolism.” Defranco adds the benefits of helping with nausea and and an upset stomach, along with the idea of ginger being “a ‘warming’ herb and can be beneficial to people that are always cold.”
There are many ways you can cook with raw ginger root, but not everyone may enjoy the flavor quite as much as I do. Defranco says “Fortunately [for those who don’t enjoy the flavor of ginger] it is available in pill form, tea, candy and the root itself.” No matter what form you try, keeping ginger on hand has been proven to aid with digestive issues.
Quinoa may look similar to a lot of grains, but it’s actually a seed according to Dr. Barrett. And it’s a seed packed with lots of protein and fiber. This can be a wonderful protein alternative for those who are vegan or vegetarian. Defranco adds that it’s lower in carbs, higher in fiber and protein, and faster cooking than just about any grain. It’s also gluten free.
There are many ways one can enjoy the benefits of quinoa. It can be prepared ahead of time for an easy, packable lunch, used as an alternative to pasta or other grain-heavy dishes, or even used as a side dish for a meal needing a little punch of protein. Dr. Barrett’s favorite way of enjoying quinoa is by preparing a cold quinoa salad made with seasonal fruits and veggies.
I’ve been gluten-free for seven years now, and quinoa is one of my favorite gems I’ve found in a gluten-free lifestyle. It’s so easy to fix ahead of time, and packed with so many nutrients and protein. Quinoa can be the perfect meal to pack for a day-hike, or just to keep on hand for your child’s lunches.
Superfoods go beyond just a buzzword in health topics. Most things identified as superfoods actually have proponents that have been proven to provide benefits to the human body. The five we explored in this article all have their own unique ways of helping you live your healthiest life, and they’re all easy to find and incorporate into your daily lifestyle and diet.
For more information about these superfoods or to find out how to supplement, visit Eddie’s Health Shoppe or Go Nutrition & Gifts. If you’re interested in more free recipes featuring superfoods that nourish the body and mind, you can subscribe to The Fittest Kitchen online at fittestkitchen.com.