By now we have all heard that foods like salmon, kale and blueberries have been staples of the “superfood” community. But the list of powerful foods is quite long. I don’t want to short-change you! Here are a few unexpected or lesser-known foods that qualify as power foods. As you read consider ways that you can incorporate them into your diet. Or, even better, give yourself a pat on the back if you are already consuming them!
10 Best Power Foods
- Dark chocolate
Chocolate is a super food? Now here’s a recommendation that I can get on board with! Let me clarify – dark chocolate is what we’re talking about here. Look for a bar with at least 70% cocoa and you’ll be getting antioxidants like polyphenols, flavanols and catechins. In fact, studies show that cocoa has more antioxidant activity than berries! These antioxidants can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Although it’s a super food, chocolate has sugar, so enjoy it in moderation, about 1 oz/day.
Fermented foods are so 2019! This is a bandwagon you can happily jump on. Sauerkraut is a cabbage based food that, due to the natural fermentation process, contain fantastic strains of probiotics that are essential to your gut health. My household is in love with the Wildbrine company which sells organic non-GMO kraut varieties in BPA free containers. That’s a win in my book!
This popular spice is extracted from the bark of the cinnamon tree. Cinnamon can reduce inflammation and fight bacteria. It also helps to stabilize blood sugar, which is good news for diabetics. Studies have also shown a potential link between cinnamon usage and the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It’s always exciting to hear about promising research around brain health, especially when products found in your pantry are involved.
*Note: There are 2 types of cinnamon – Ceylon and Cassia. Always choose Ceylon (or “true”) cinnamon since it has lower levels of coumarin, a compound that can cause liver damage.’
4. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a plant-based complete protein which is a fantastic option for those who eat a vegetarian diet and for all of us omnivores. Add hemp seeds to the top of a smoothie bowl, or salad and immediately increase your omega 3 & 6 consumption! Hemp seeds are also fiber-rich which your digestive system will thank you for.
This sweet, earthy-tasting root veggie is actually a relative of swiss chard. The folate and betaine in beets lower inflammation in your body which helps fight heart disease, and the natural pigments that give beets their rich color (betacyanins) can help fight cancer. Be sure to eat the greens, too, which are the most nutritious part! Beets are a common GMO crop, so buy organic if possible.
6. Cassava Flour
If you haven’t heard of this powerful alternative to all-purpose flour, it’s time to get to know it! Cassava flour is actually a root that has been dried and pulverized into a powder. This root vegetable is popular in South America and has been a proud contender in the alernative flour scene. If you are grain-free, like my son and I, this is an excellent substitute in traditional recipes and often works in a 1:1 ratio. Cassava flour doesn’t create an insulin spike and has resistant starches that feed gut bacteria. You can find this from trusted brands like Otto’s Naturals and Bob’s Red Mill.
The avocado is a complete staple in my diet at this moment in time. I can literally eat an entire avocado a day. The best news is, it contains heart healthy fat, dietary fiber and almost 20 vitamins and minerals. Avocados have made toast popular again, and while I don’t eat bread, I do love how satiated I feel when I eat them. There are multiple varieties of avocados and my favorite are the fleshy Hass Avocado.
Acai (ah-sigh-EE) berries are harvested from acai palm trees and contain more antioxidants than any other berry. The predominant antioxidant is anthocyanin, which, like in red wine, helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood stream. Among the other notable benefits are the anti-aging properties of the berry, making it a common ingredient in skin care products. The berries which are grown in the Amazon are highly perishable, so you will typically find acai in the form of a juice, tea or powder.
A member of the algae family, seaweed has up to ten times more calcium than milk and is an excellent blood purifier because its chemical composition is closely matched to human blood plasma. Seaweed’s most notable benefit is that it is a rare source of iodine, a mineral crucial to proper thyroid function. You’ll find brown (kelp), red (nori) and green seaweed varieties.
10. Swiss Chard
Kale and spinach are the dark leafy greens that get much of the attention, but swiss chard is another wonderful choice. Rich in Vitamins C, K and A, folates, iron, calcium and even more minerals than I can count, swiss chard has got it going on. Its impressive nutritional profile means that it helps prevent cancer, manages diabetes, boosts heart, eye and brain health, and improves blood circulation. And the biotin it contains will help make your hair shiny and strong!