My fascination with superfoods
Three years ago, I had no idea what superfoods were.
What I knew is that I felt wrong. I've always had blood tests coming up with high sugar levels and cholesterol, even if I was 21 and very sporty. But at 29 things had gotten out of control. Then a friend showed me how to change my life, start feeling REALLY GOOD and I guess I was ready for a change, so I changed.
Soon enough I was following the Clean program by heart way after my 21 days detox. It's been almost 3 years now and while I'm having big troubles to get back to no coffee (I succeeded 18 months and then I lost my path) and to no sugar (there's sugar everywhere, and in Asia is unavoidable), I'm a true believer of good food.
In the case of superfoods, I have to say they are fascinating. Avocados and olive oil are for me essential, and they are full of great benefits. But reading Clean I discovered so many more fruits, vegetables, algae and ingredients that were 10 times more powerful - it was mind-blowing. Then I went to check on the supermarket and I almost had a heart attack when reading the prices.
That's a reality that I soon had to face: eating junk food is much cheaper. But when you start preparing your own food and stop eating packaged stuff or eating out so much, you also start saving money. And keep in mind - what you don't spend today on healthy food, you will pay it up later on in your life. It might be heart disease, diabetes, cancer, digestive diseases, depression or who knows. The bill will be costly and until you are there, you are not going to feel as good as you are designed to, just because the fuel you are choosing to tank your body with is sub-par.
You might read this and think I'm exaggerating, but I'm someone who used to binge on the worst food you can imagine, that still craves that food when seeing it, but who has learnt that a digestion doesn't need to be a painful process and that "Heisshunger" or sugar craves can be stopped. And when I follow the Clean recommendations my sugar and cholesterol levels impress my doctor.
I recently read Superfoods by David Wolfe and it was an amazing read. I learned so much about superfoods I was already a fan of, and then I discovered a couple more I'm very looking forward to test when I'm back in Europe. What's hard about superfoods though is to find them in the supermarket and incorporate them in your life.
Here's an overview of what Superfoods covers, a sum up of their benefits and how to get them online or in the Berlin shops:
(DISCLAIMER: I'm using affiliate links in the case of links directing to Amazon, so I do get some cents if you buy anything following those links. But I do link to products I have used myself and when I haven't, I tell you so.)
Cacao. And that is raw 100% cacao. I know that is not easy for many to eat it, because we are all too used to sugar in our chocolate. Once you quit sugar for a few weeks, you can start appreciating dark chocolate and slowly enjoy cacao. I started with the Lindt Excellence packs, first 75%, then 85% and now I'm on 95%. Usually I buy them in Edeka, but any chocolate with less than 10 grams of sugar every 100 grams should do. I've tried 99% Lindt, which in Berlin I only found in KaDeWe so far. Then I moved to cacao nibs, cacao beans and now I use Alnatura's or Naturata's powder cacao with almond milk as a substitute for coffee.
Another good substitute for coffee or cacao is Carob, which is much sweeter and doesn't do anything bad to you, as far as I know.
Benefits according to Superfoods: Cacao has the most antioxidants among all foods on Earth, most important ones being Polyphenol, Catechin and Epicatechin, and it's a big source of Magnesium, Iron, Chrome, Mangan, Zink, Copper, Omega-6, Vitamin C and Serotonin. Just to name a few.
Goji Berries. For me they were forbidden during the Clean detox because they belong to the nightshades family. But I came to appreciate them later on, when I found out that cacao nibs and goji berries mix perfectly. It's recommended to eat like 5 of them daily to live like forever, at least the Chinese medicine says so.
I don't really have a favourite brand for Goji Berries, since none is specially cheap and before reading Superfoods it wasn't on my list of must dos, so I'm not a specialist. Here's the one from Alnatura and another one from Amazon that I just googled for you.
Benefits according to Superfoods: Goji Berries relieve stress, high blood-pressure, help with chronic liver and kidney diseases, insomnia, help muscle grow, are anti-aging and improve your sex live. Among many other benefits.
Maca. THE secret ingredient for tasty smoothies. Maca brings my fruity morning smoothies to a level that gets me high. And of course it is super healthy! I don't use it daily in my breakfast simply because otherwise it gets pretty expensive. But Maca is definitely one of my all time favs in the Superfood world.
Once I found an amazing product in a shop for Spanish and Latin American products called Aquí España in Kantstr. Must be a super common thing to buy somewhere in Latin American and it is just genius: maca, quinoa, amaranth and vanilla in one single container. OMG.
But the product I buy consistently has been the Terra Sana Maca Powder, which I usually find at Alnatura but I also have seen in Bio Company.
Benefits according to Superfoods: Maca improves your fertility and sexual drive, and also helps you overcome challenging physical activity (like when you are walking in the Andes mountains), stabilizes your hormonal and endocrine system, your nervous system, your cardiovascular system and helps you battling anemia, depression, menopause and stomach cancer.
Bee products. This is really nothing new for most of us. Honey, Royal Jelly, Bee Pollen, Propolis, you name it. I don't really need to talk you into this one, just switch sugar with honey if you are still adding it to your drinks and you will be making yourself healthier with one simple change.
But I must be honest with you - I have a problem with honey. I feel like it inflates me and even if I love it, after a couple of days having it I feel like my belly balloons. Also, as a fake vegan, I'm not supposed to have it - so I struggle with adding it or not into my chocolate drinks every single time... It's definitely a guilty pleasure for me!
I don't think I need to link to any specific bee products, because surely you have your favorite ones. Just make sure to get the rawest honey you can and if possible, buy from local producers. And support the campaigns to save the bees! Without them, we are doomed.
Benefits according to Superfoods: Honey products seems to cover everything. They are packed with Minerals, Probiotics, Antioxidants, Enzymes, Antibiotics - they make humans live healthier and longer.
Spirulina. For me spirulina is not something I enjoy having. It was part of the recommended supplements to take during the Clean program so I gave it a try. I never dared to have it in my food, I've only taken it so far as a pill, together with my magnesium, iron, garlic, probiotic, Omega-3, B12 and biotin pills. Yep, all that! (I get them in DM or Rossmann, the white label packs. Except probiotics, which I get here.)
But spirulina is amazing as a source for protein, iron, antioxidants, so however you want to take it, just do it! And of course if your are vegetarian or vegan, probably you already knew this is what you need to keep healthy. I usually buy spirulina pills in Bio Company, but here's another option I googled for you.
Benefits according to Superfoods: Spirulina comes with 18 amino acids, 8 of the essential ones, Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, E, K and helps us to produce quality blood cells. Our body can process 4 times more protein from 1g of spirulina than from 1g of beef. This is important because for the production of 10g of spirulina 23 litres of water are needed, to provide the same amount of protein through cow milk 246 liters of water are needed, and to produce one portion of beef that offers 10g of protein we need 1.303 liters of water. 23 liters of water versus 1.303 liters.
Let that sink.
The AFA-Klamath Algae. I had never heard of them before reading Superfoods. Turns out it's spirulina on steroids. It grows wild in the Klamath Lake in Oregon, and it contains more of all the good stuff within the same amount. But spirulina is a bit easier to digest for most of people.
I'm just gonna say it is very expensive stuff, so I will try some day and give you a better opinion on it. If you try before I do or you already have experience with it, please let me know if it is worth the price tag!
Marine Phytoplankton. Same thing, I never heard of it before reading about it on Superfoods. I'm pretty impressed with what I read, and so far I found this good option from Mysuperfoods. So if you want to eat what makes whales live nearly forever, what produces 90% of our oxygen and what probably will save us when the planet collapses, let's do this!
Benefits according to Superfoods: Phytoplankton is the best source of Omega-3, brings a big spectrum of Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants and Proteins to your body, it's 60% composed of protein, gives you energy without stimulants, improves your immune system, helps losing weight, improves your memory, concentration, strength and resistance (which results in better sex), improves your sleep and vision, and it makes you look younger. The list goes much much longer in the book - listing arthritis, type 2 diabetes, eczemas, cancer, Alzheimer, Parkinson and osteoporosis as diseases where Phytoplankton is effective taming the symptoms. It's like the source of life, seriously.
Aloe Vera. I come from El Salvador, where Aloe Vera grows in each corner. I've seen my aunties do all kinds of crazy stuff based on Aloe, from shampoos to drinks. I've tried drinking it so many times, but I really cannot make it happen, unless it is a sugary asian delicious drink that probably does more harm than good. This one looks like the real deal, but I never bought it myself.
I definitely want to give it a try when back in Europe, probably through pills like these ones. I might buy the plant and try to make it grow bigger, and see if I can find a way to bring aloe to my food. Supposedly, it should be the best thing to apply to my curly hair, so I might just do it to save on the drugstore...
Benefits according to Superfoods: Aloe Vera comes with Vitamin A, C, E, Calcium, Magnesium, Zink, Chrome, antioxidants, fibre, amino acids, enzymes, improves your digestive system, helps you in case of infections, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It helps your skin with basically anything that is affecting it when directly applied. In Indonesia, the locals put it on all my mosquito bites 🙏🏽
Hemp seeds. I turned to hemp when my raw vegan protein powder proved too expensive for the long run. Nothing makes a smoothie more delicious than the Sun Warrior powders, but the hemp protein I found in Bio Company and online is even healthier and the price is much more sustainable. It just gives a dark green color to everything and that visually kills the mood for me. So I buy both of them on an attempt to make the Sun Warrior last longer.
I appreciate the hemp powder because it makes smoothies that taste like real food, compared to other protein powders in the market. I've tried many times to bring hemp seeds into my food, even make my own hemp milk, but I failed miserably. So for now I'm sticking to the powder!
Benefits according to Superfoods: Hemp got a bad reputation in the 1930s just due to economical interests - find the full story in the book. But basically you can produce everything with hemp: paper, clothes, construction materials, cars and the oil to fuel them. Looks like hemp could save our trees, air, need for food - and our planet. Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious foods around: it's 35% protein, 47% fat and 12% carbs. They contain all essential amino acids and fatty acids that humans need to be healthy, and it's easy for us to digest them and obtain them through hemp. You might not get high with hemp, but you are definitely getting superpowers for your daily life.
Coconut. This one is pretty famous and easy to love. My mother used to drink lots of coconut water when she was pregnant with me and I guess that justifies my obsession with it. In El Salvador you can get a plastic bag full of cold fresh coconut water and its sweet meat every 10 steps you walk. It's just amazing.
But not only the water and the milk are excellent to drink. The oil is amazing for your skin and to cook. I was always scared to use coconut oil when preparing dishes because of the smell, but I finally tried and I realized that it doesn't affect the food. It's the healthiest oil you can cook with, better than olive oil, since it doesn't build trans-fats when heated. So use olive oil for your salads and coconut oil to cook: ditch the butter or margarine already!
Benefits according to Superfoods: Coconut products work against Viruses and Fungi, are 90% made of good fats and lack of cholesterol, contain antioxidants, are anti-aging and make for a healthy skin. It's marvelous!
Açai Berries. In the past 4 years I've started to see açai everywhere, but until reading Superfoods I didn't give it too much attention. Turns out the berries are packed with Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9, the so called "Beauty Oil". Of course, açai has also antioxidants, helps with the creation and regeneration of stem cells, contains 19 amino acids, is rich in fibre and according to recent studies, açai can kill 86% of leukemia cells. Get them bio and fair trade for best results and to protect the Brazilian rainforest.
Chlorella. I discovered it through a coworker who left me a bottle of pills when he left the job to become a nomad. It's also not a cheap supplement, but according to Superfoods, Chlorella is rich in Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids, essential fatty acids, it's good for your brain and liver, supports digestion, protects you from rays and accelerates all healing processes. It's helpful against diabetes, arthritis, candida, hepatitis, virus and bacteria infections, anemia and multiple sclerosis.
Again, it is very hard for me to include algae as an ingredient in my recipes, but as a pill, it's easy and convenient to have one from time to time. Here the one's I've been using so far.
Yacon. I've tried almost all of the sweeteners out there, except Yacon, which I also discovered by reading Superfoods. I used to be addicted to saccharine, then I tried stevia but it didn't stick, I tried agave syrup but I'm not sure if it is that healthy. The promise of yacon is that it brings good bacteria to your intestines (sugar wipes up your good bacteria and helps yeast spread), helps you absorb Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin B, and it contains Antioxidants. It has 30% Oligofructose and very little Glucose, Fructose and Saccharose. Also, it has very few calories. It looks like the perfect sweetener and I'm dying to try it out!
Here 2 extra encores from my own experiences:
Quinoa. David Wolfe does not include quinoa as his top 10 superfood and I'm sure there are reasons for that. But of all the foods I'm happy to have discovered in the last 3 years, quinoa is my top #1. I replaced pasta and rice with quinoa and really, I never looked back.
Quinoa makes me feel übergood after eating it. Every single time. I cook around 250 grams on Mondays and then I use it in salads and soups during the week. You can add avocado, olives, zucchini, leek, salmon, whatever it feels good to you. Quinoa goes well with everything that pasta and rice go well with. It doesn't make you sleepy afterwards, it makes you powerful. Here's how to cook it, I had great results on a rice cooker as well.
I usually buy it in DM from the Alnatura brand, sometimes white quinoa and some others the mixed version. In BioCompany you can find the Davert version, which is a bit more expensive. Just don't buy any of the ready-made versions - if you check the label, the percentage of quinoa is really low.
The only bad thing about quinoa is that since it is produced in the Andes region and now is hyped, it got harder for the natives to afford it and it is actually part of their traditional cuisine. So, another guilty pleasure!
Hazelnut Butter. DA SHIT. VERY EXPENSIVE. BUT WORTH IT. This is like healthy nutella that you can dip your fruit on. Amazing with apples, something so simple that tastes like heaven, unless you don't like thick textures. Also goes well with banana, pineapple and mango. It's the most delicious and healthy treat you can think of.
And of all the non-dairy milks out there, Hazelnut Milk is the best one. Hands down.
I hope this post helps you improve your health, eating habits and doesn't make your wallet weep. Please let me know if there's something incorrect or you found a better place where to buy these ingredients: I'm happy to edit the article and of course give you credit on your findings!