Ordinarily, I try to stick to eating foods that only contain ingredients I can pronounce. But lately, I find myself making some exceptions. I guess you could say that it all started with quinoa (KEEN-wah or kee-NOO-ah, depending on who you talk to) and just snowballed from there.
With so much hype lately about superfoods, they’re showing up on ingredient labels everywhere. But it’s not like these foods haven’t been around for a while — in fact, some have been used for more than a thousand years. Maybe we’re just more open to trying something new nowadays. I know I certainly am, especially if it’s a real food with actual healing properties as opposed to more chemicals that may or may not cause me to develop a brain tumor further down the road. Seriously, it’s scary what’s being put into boxes and called “food.”
But with so many ancient foods and herbs being touted as “superfoods” it’s hard to know what to add to your diet. And while many of these foods have been used for centuries due to properties they’re believed to have, many claims haven’t yet been backed by science or proven effective in humans. Additionally, in some cases, in order to reap the benefits you’d have to consume enormous and potentially inadvisable quantities.
So I came up with a list of super powerful foods you should know about … even if your attempts at nailing the pronunciation leave you laughing. (Of course, those of you who’ve grown up eating these foods are welcome to laugh at those of us just getting familiar with them, too — but if you’ve got some awesome suggestions for how to best incorporate them, you know we’re all ears!)
Ashwagandha. This herb’s superpowers classify it as an adaptogen — which means that it helps your body deal with stress from things like pollution, anxiety and insomnia. Very helpful. And if that’s not enough to get you on board, it’s been proven to help lower blood sugar, lower cortisol levels and provide relief for people who suffer from stress and anxiety disorders.
Chlorella. This single-celled, freshwater algae is chock-full of minerals, vitamins and nutrients. But wait … there’s more. This little green wonder has been shown to have some amazing detoxifying properties. It helps detoxify the body by binding to heavy metals consumed in food. It’s also been shown to be effective in protecting and detoxifying the body during radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
Kimchi. Fermented stuff is all the rage it seems — and with good reason. Enter Kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish used in Korean cooking. Like its European cousin, sauerkraut, it’s high in fiber, vitamins, iron and calcium and low in calories. Most notably, it’s known for its ability to encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, leading to a healthy digestive tract.
Matcha. This super-charged powder is made from high-quality green tea leaves and packs a huge antioxidant punch. It’s also been shown to boost your energy — and it’s not just because of the caffeine. Matcha is also full of energy-boosting amino acids and other nutrients that make it a clean source of energy without all the jitters.
Reishi. Reishi is a mushroom that grows on plum trees. This impressive little fungus has been found to contain major amounts of polysaccharides, which have a protective, anti-aging effect on cells and may ultimately lead to a longer life. Not only that, but Reishi also has immune-boosting, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties that also work to promote a healthy aging process.
Which superfoods are you all about these days? —Alison