Some foods pack such a nutritional punch we call them “superfoods.” The healthiest diet includes a variety of foods with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, so don’t restrict your intake to just a few superfoods. Your overall health and well-being will certainly benefit from the inclusion of these nutritional powerhouses in a balanced meal plan. Here are some powerful foods to lift a ho-hum diet to super-duper levels:
Açaí (pronounced ah-sai-ee) is a dark purple berry that grows on palm trees in the Amazon rainforest. This super berry’s antioxidant properties are what makes it a stand-out food. Fresh açaí perishes quickly and is, therefore, difficult to obtain outside of Brazil, but frozen açaí pulp is readily available in health food stores or online, and you’ll also find it in tablets, powders, and juices. The juice is usually sweetened, so it’s best to opt for other forms if you don’t want extra sugar. You can add the frozen pulp to smoothies or enjoy it as an açaí bowl by mixing it with fruit, oatmeal, and nut butter for a delicious and refreshing breakfast or snack.
This fruit is native to Mexico and is a source of monounsaturated fat, which helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Guacamole may be the most popular way to consume avocados, but that’s just the start of what you can do with this superfood. Mash it on your morning toast and top with an egg for a nutritious breakfast, scoop some into the blender for a creamy smoothie, or make delicious desserts by replacing the oil or butter in your recipe with avocado, like in this scrumptious pound cake.
Ancient civilizations of Mexico were consuming cacao – the raw form of chocolate before the sweet you know and love undergoes processing — some 3,000 years ago. A study conducted on mice showed that theobromine, a component of cacao, is a mild stimulant and energy booster; cacao is also a good source of flavonoids, a natural antioxidant. While the results of the study show promising outcomes, they are inconclusive, and should be used as background for forming hypotheses and conducting additional research, including human clinical trials, which are needed to fully understand the effect on people. In the meantime, enjoy raw cacao powder added to smoothies or desserts or cook up some tasty treats like these dark chocolate brownies.
The Rarámuri (also known as the Tarahumara), a Mexican indigenous group known for their long distance running ability, traditionally included chia seeds in their diet, believing the seeds would give them the energy needed for endurance running. These tiny seeds are loaded with essential fatty acids. Chia is also high in fiber – 1 Tb. will give you 19% of your daily recommended fiber intake — and very filling. When placed in water, chia develops a gelatinous consistency. Make a refreshing drink by adding chia seeds to fresh lemonade or limeade.