Superfood powders

The word superfood is everywhere. One week it might be kale, the next week it’s goji berries. It’s a buzzword which is used so often and perhaps some of us don’t really understand why they are good for us? Some dieticians are still wary as they say that no food can cure disease, however some foods certainly have more added benefits than others. And these, are superfoods!

Superfoods are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and provide your body with dense, pure nutrients. There is no doubt that they are important for our health. They help to fight off disease, slow down our aging process, improve our energy levels, improve our skin, hair, and nails, and generally keep us healthy.

In one of my recent posts foods to help build your immune system, there is a wonderful list of fresh, plant-based superfoods, including leafy greens, fruits, legumes, nuts & seeds, wholegrains, berries, and vegetables.

Recently, I have been putting together some smoothie recipes for my clients and they include superfood powders.

Superfood powders are a great added benefit to a healthy diet. They are quick and easy (great if you are on the go!) and an excellent way to increase your nutrient intake. They are brilliant for your kid’s smoothies too, containing all the nutrients, but without the sometimes-dreaded plate of greens!

There is a variety of brands to choose from in the market and my advice would be to choose organic (grown without the use of chemicals or toxins) as opposed to conventional powders.  To ensure you are getting the purest, avoid powders which contain artificial sweeteners, artificial flavours, dextrin, fillers, and gluten. These ingredients bulk the powder making it less nutritious for you, and cheaper for the manufacturer. Always check the label and do some research before buying. The organic, clean powders tend to be on the expensive side; however, they will last you a long time and they are better for you.

Here is a list of my top superfood powders and their health benefits. Also included are some seeds and berries which I highly recommend:

Acai berry: From the acai palm tree and native to Central and South America, these reddish-purple fruits are known to be richer in antioxidants than most other berries. These little gems have been used for centuries as a healing and energy-boosting fruit. They provide so many health benefits and studies have suggested they help to boost cognitive function, protect your heart health and help to prevent cancer.

Cacao: Cacao and Cocoa often are confused. Cacao is the raw, unrefined bean and cocoa is the bean after it has been roasted. Cacao powder is the remaining of the raw nibs inside the seed after it has been pressed into a paste, and the fat content has been removed (making it healthier for you). Cacao is rich in magnesium, is an excellent source of iron and a high source of fibre.

Chia seeds: Originally known as the Salvia Hispanica seed as part of the mint family, the chia seed means “strength” in Mayan. These pepper-coloured tiny seeds are extremely high in omega 3 which will help to balance your cholesterol levels as well as enhance your brain and heart health, they are rich in fibre, making you feel fuller for longer, and they give you long-lasting energy throughout the day.

Chlorella: A microalgae which has existed for over 2 billion years. This intense, vivid green powder is one of the oldest living organisms on the planet. When the algae are dried, nearly half of its weight is protein (twice as much as spinach). Chlorella is known to reduce fatigue, boost your immune system, it contains a long list of vitamins and minerals including A, D, E, B12 and is a great source for natural energy-boosting.

Flaxseed: There are two types of flaxseeds, brown and golden – both being nutritious. These seeds are packed full of omega 3 fatty acids, lignans (which can reduce cancer risk), and they are high in fibre which is excellent for digestion. They improve cholesterol levels, are high in protein and can also help to control blood sugar levels. I recommend buying ground flaxseed as it is easier to digest and absorbed better into the body.

Goji berries: Also called the wolfberry, this bright orange-red berry comes from a shrub native to China. Thought to reverse the signs of ageing and help to slow down vision loss, these berries are also known to reduce blood sugar levels and with their high levels of vitamin C, they can promote healing too.

Hemp seeds: From the cannabis sativa plant, these seeds are a complete source of protein and provide all nine amino acids. Our body cannot naturally produce all amino acids (which are the building blocks to our body’s protein), so we must provide them in our diet. Very few plant-based foods are a complete source of protein, so these little treasures are an excellent choice. They also contain Omega-3 fatty acids for brain health, fibre for gut health, and are packed full of vitamins and minerals.

Maca: High in the Andes mountains, this Peruvian root plant is a cruciferous vegetable, related to the cabbage, broccoli, and kale. The maca root is ground into a powder and is known for many of its health benefits which include boosting your energy and stamina (some say it is great for the libido too, amazing!), it helps to improve your mood and focus the mind.  Also excellent for your immune system; an ounce of this powder contains more Vitamin C than 2 oranges. There is nothing not to like about this one!

Spirulina: Similar to chlorella, spirulina is an algae and is a powerful source of antioxidants and high levels of anti-inflammatory properties. With its high protein content, it became famous when used by NASA as a dietary supplement for astronauts during their space missions. High in nutrients which protect the body from oxidative stress, it is excellent for supporting heart health and boosting the immune system. Spirulina or Chlorella? They are both remarkably similar. Choose either and you cannot go wrong.

Moringa: A large native tree in India, the Moringa Oleifeira (“Miracle tree”) is used to form a rich green powder which is high in iron and known for reducing tiredness and fatigue. It is full of vitamins A, E & K which contribute to a healthy immune function, help to maintain glowing skin and hair, strong vision, and protecting cells from oxidative stress. It contains all 9 essential amino acids (like hemp seeds) and is also high in fibre.

Turmeric: Native to Southeast Asia, this beautiful and bright orange powder has powerful antioxidants and healing properties. It has been used for years as an anti-inflammatory and with its high levels of curcumin, it is great for your immune system too.

As you can see there are some incredible superfood powders to choose from. As part of a healthy diet, you will notice the difference and give your body a boost of nutrients. This is quite a long list, and there is no need to get them all, start small and experiment with a few smoothies and recipes. These have been a staple in my cupboard for many years and they have really evolved over time. If you would like some tips on how to include them in your diet, please feel free to contact me at hello@youfirstnutrition.com and I would be more than happy to help you.

I hope you have found this useful and thank you for reading.

Aimee x

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