August 31, 2012

Top 10 Superfoods for Superhealth (…& outrageously simple lessons from chimpanzees).

Not just Woody Harrelson and Sting are going crazy for superfoods.

Also our closest cousins, the friendly chimps (we so often forget), are champing down on the latest food craze.

Imagine a food that contains high levels of vitamins, amino acids, and minerals that can add years to your life, reduce your risk of anything from heart disease and cancer to diabetes and arthritis, make you feel and look better, and has no side effects…

My philosophy is that nature intended all food to be “super!” It’s just that modern farming methods mean the stuff you find in your supermarket is far less than “super!” Wild foods—the wilder the better (the way nature intended them)—are true superfoods.

When we live according to nature, and listen to our bodies, health and vitality come as a natural consequence. Crucial elements of health like nutrition, clean flowing water, clean air, activity/exercise, sunlight, love and passion all work like alchemy to create an optimal homeostatic balance in the body system.

With our busy, stressed lifestyles and polluted cities, some of these factors have become impaired, hence heightening the importance of superfoods to stave off stress and the onset of chronic diseases.

I have targeted foods which lower blood sugar levels, which is an essential aspect in slowing aging and preventing chronic illnesses. For this reason, I’ve omitted bee superfoods. Russian beekeepers commonly lived over 100 years on a daily diet of raw honey!

I’ve chosen the most readily available superfood categories and the easiest to find, depending on seasonal factors.

My Top 10 Superfoods for Super health:

1. Dark Leafy Greens

Visibly the most abundant life on Earth—perhaps nature gave us a strong hint.

Chimpanzees are our closest earthly relations and 40 percent of their diet is made up of greens.

Chlorophyll gives these super greens their color, and it increases blood hemoglobin levels, thus creating more oxygen-rich blood— “gold” for our cells.

Greens are the most common omission from modern-day diets, even by vegetarians, often a causative factor in cancer and heart disease. The alkalinity of greens balances our pH levels, and such balance is essential because our cells function within a narrow acid-alkaline range.

Leafy greens like parsley, weeds, broccoli, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, rocket, watercress, endive, chicory, dandelion, Swiss chard, collards and spinach, as well as grasses (e.g. wheat and barley grass) are swimming in nutrients from folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamins A, C to K (essential for healthy blood clotting).

2. Berries

Berries (goji, golden inca, noni, acai, blueberry, etc.) are abundant in antioxidants and magical blood cleansers that are filled with essential heart-healthy nutrients good for everything from anti-aging to eye health (zeaxanthin).

3. Mushrooms

Mushrooms rule!

Super fungi have a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine with modern science now firmly establishing them as superfoods. Mushrooms are rich in nutrients including potassium, B vitamins, iron and selenium. They also contain virtually no fat, and contain fabulous immune-boosting and antioxidant compounds proven to block the growth of cancer cells.

4. Nuts and Seeds

From hempseed, flaxseed, walnut, almond, and brazil nuts to pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and macadamia, these nutrient-rich energy powerhouses each have the potential stored energy to grow a tree, which produces fruit for generations. They are rich in minerals, heart-healthy unsaturated fats, protein and phytosterols.

5. Fermented Foods

As old as civilization, fermented foods (yogurt, miso, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, amasake, kimchi, umeboshi plums, natto) have been known to be probiotic-rich (containing lactobacilli, good flora, and an array of gut-healthy enzymes).

Fermentation predigests food to create probiotics, which allow greater absorption of essential minerals and vitamins (e.g. B12 and C), and act as antioxidants reducing cancer risk. Choose unpasteurized “active” or “live” cultures.

6. Seaweed

Seaweed (nori, kelp, dulse, arame, wakame, kombu) contains an abundant iodine content that stimulates weight-loss and reduces cellulite.

Ocean life is the most nutrient-rich on Earth. Seaweed is close to blood plasma, purifying and alkalizing blood, countering toxins like heavy metals and radiation by promoting their elimination, and helping to break down fatty deposits. Seaweed also contains more than enough calcium (up to 10 times the amount in milk!)

7. Algae

Algae (chlorella, spirulina, dunaliella, blue-green algae, red-marine algae, marine phytoplankton) are an ideal vitamin-mineral package, exhibiting characteristics of both plant and animal. A soft cell wall allows easy absorption of a rich supply of phytonutrients—including trace elements, amino acids, B12, chlorophyll, omega-3 essential fatty acids and enzymes.

Algae improve brain and immune function, promote detoxification, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and improve energy and endurance. Blue Green Algae (e.g. from Klamath Lake) is the richest sources of chlorophyll reported. Spirulina is the richest protein source so far discovered on earth.

8. Sprouts

When a seed containing all the elements required for life is germinated, it is also activated and predigested, thus liberating energy, enzymes, phytonutrients, antioxidants, fuel for cells and abundant “life force.”

Sprouts prevent cancer and promote longevity. My favorites are alfalfa and fenugreek.

9. Herbs

Herbal superfoods are packed with potent phytonutrients and disease-preventing medicinal qualities.

Everyone has heard of the magical properties of rejuvenating “superfood healer” garlic (including antiseptic, anti-coagulant, anti-fungal, antibiotic, antiviral, reduces cholesterol) and ginger (increases blood circulation, prevents nausea, lower cholesterol, relieves pain). My other favorites are cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne pepper.

10. Lemon

At number 10, I’m punting for the humble lemon due to its ubiquity in most kitchens. Lemon has an alkalizing action on the human body—improving liver function, digestion and detoxification. It improves immune function, fights infection, is an antioxidant, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, prevents cancer, relieves throat infections and even whitens teeth!



Editor: Brianna Bemel


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