Thursday, August 7, 2014


If you follow me on Instagram or happen to take a peak in my kitchen, you'll see that I'm a little obsessed with superfoods. That is, foods that have a ton of nutritional (and often medicinal) benefits! I recently talked about some superfoods on my Facebook page but thought I'd write up a post here too.  These are a few of my favourite superfoods and some of the most powerful. 

Some of my favourite superfoods! I buy a lot of them from VitaCost. The prices are hard to beat and they have a big selection!

Medicinal mushrooms are popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Now there are over 38,000 kinds of mushrooms with medicinal properties but I am going to focus on 3 haha If you are curious about any others, feel free to ask! David Wolfe is also a great source for mushroom info.

Shiitake (pronounced shih-taw-kee): These are a more common mushroom and are generally consumed raw or cooked. They've actually been around since prehistoric times! Shiitake mushrooms are known as a symbol of longevity, especially in Asia. Japan used to be the biggest producer of these mushrooms but now China is. They have a rich, smoky flavour. They are known to boost the immune system, are anti-tumor (and have been used with cancer prevention/treatment), anti-viral, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. They are high in calcium, iron, vitamin B2 and vitamin C.

Reishi (pronounced ray-shee). They have been used in the Eastern World, especially China and Japan for thousands of years. Reishi mushrooms have a bitter taste and while some people do cook them similar to shiitake mushrooms, they are mainly used for medicinal purposes. You can buy them dried, in supplement forms and even as an extract. They are anti-allergenic, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. Reishi mushrooms are known to calm anxiety, improve blood flow, and combat blood pressure. They contain beta glucan, one of the strongest immune system supplements there is!

Chaga (pronounced chah-guh): These mushrooms are a common folk remedy in Russia. They grow in Eastern and Northern Europe, Canada, Korea and North Carolina along the coasts. Chaga mushrooms are commonly consumed as a beverage or in drops. They are mainly drank as a tea. Chaga mushrooms are a tonic, blood purifier and pain reliever. They are anti-cancer, anti-tumor, anti-HIV, anti-bacterial, and anti-Candida.

Goji Berries (pronounced go-jee): Also known as wolf berries. They originated in China. They are commonly sold raw/dehydrated (heated at a low temperature). They have a slightly sweet and sour taste. They contain all essential amino acids and 21 minerals. They are anti-inflammation, anti-fungal and anti-aging. They also help improve eyesight. They contain more vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots, and more iron than spinach per oz. 

1oz of dehydrated goji berries contains 100 calories, .5g fat, 75mg sodium, 21g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 4g protein 240% Vitamin C 2% calcium 8% iron. 

Goji berries are not recommended for people on diabetes or blood pressure medication (consult a doctor first).

There are over 20 kinds but I will be focusing on kombu and dulse flakes. Sea vegetables are the most nutritionally dense vegetation there is because they feed off of the nutrients in the ocean.

Kombu (pronounced kawm-boo): Kombu is the edible form of kelp. It is rich in iodine (more than any other food), Vitamin C, Vitamin K, magnesium, zinc and copper. It is helpful in treating thyroid issues, skin irritation and digestion. It contains more protein than soybeans.

 2 tbsp of kombu contains 4 calories 23mg sodium 1g carbohydrates 2% Calcium 2% Iron 1% Vitamin C. Note that kombu is different from nori (as in the sheet used with sushi). Nori has its benefits too being anti inflammatory, able to lower cholesterol and containing antioxidants. Nori is high in Vitamin A, C, iron, thiamin, riboflaving and phosphorous.

Dulse Flakes (pronounced dull-see): Dulse originally came from Spain and Ireland but now we also get it from California, Maine, Nova Scotia Canada and Norway. Dulse flakes cotain more potassium than a banana, 34 times the amount! They contain 112 minerals, EPA & DHA (healthy omega 3 fatty acids) and Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, L and E along with calcium, magnesium, chromium, iodine and zinc. They are anti aging and anti carcinogenic. Dulse flakes may also treat constipation.

 1 tsp contains 3 calories 15mg sodium 80mg potassium 2% iron

Hemp: It contains little to none of the THC that marijuana contains. You cannot get a high nor will you fail a drug test because of it. Now that that's out of the way... haha Hemp has been popular in both Asia and the Middle East for a very long time. In the US, it has been often considered controversial simply because of it's relation to marijuana. It comes in many edible forms such as hemp seeds, oil, butter, flour and protein powder. It is a completely protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. It helps with muscle growth and repair, DNA repair and balancing your hormones. It reduces inflammation, increases your metabolism and contains Vitamin E which is anti-aging. Hemp has an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of 3.75:1. It contains the essential fatty acid GLA (only 3 other foods contain this) which many people are deficient in and that is great for healthy skin, hair and nails.
1.5 tbsp of hemp seeds contain 80 calories 7g fat 3g carbohydrates 1g fiber 19g sugar 5g protein 6% Vitamin A 2% Calcium 10% Iron. 

Maca (pronounced mah-cah): Also known as maca root. It comes it black, yellow and red forms. It originated in Peru and is consumed both as a food and for medicinal purposes. It's commonly taken in powder form (which is what I have and I love adding it to smoothies!). It may alleviate sexual dysfunction and increase libido and is often taken by people trying to conceive since it is said to help with fertility (note: it should not be taken if you are currently pregnant or breastfeeding). Maca increases energy, helps relieve menstrual cramp pain and other body pain along with hot flashes and mood swings so it is great for menopausal women or when you are menstruating! It's totally safe for men to take too and does effect their fertility as well.

1 tsp of maca powder contains 20 calories, 0g fat, 0g sodium, 4g carbohydrates, 1g sugar, 1g protein 2% vitamin c 2% calcium 2% iron 

Spirulina (pronounced speer-oo-lee-nah): Spirulina is a blue green algae that originated with the Aztecs. It does have a very strong, unique, "green" taste so if you're new to trying it, keep that in mind. Start with a small amount in a smoothie! It is mainly sold in powder form. It encourages and supports the healthy gut flora (bacteria) which keeps candida overgrowth under control (if you are prone to yeast infection, you most likely have a candida problem!). Spirula also relieves allergy rhinitis symptoms. It can help normalize blood pressure, lower cholesterol and prevent strokes. It also contains more protein than red meat! It is 61% protein vs red meat only being 22%.

 1tbsp of sprinula powder contains 17 calories 0g fat 3g protein 0g fiber 0g sugar 16% iron 5% phosphorous 6% manganese 18% thiamin 12% riboflavin 3% Vitamin B3 and E.

Cacao (pronounced kuh-cow): Just to clear things up, cocoa is a roasted, processed version of cacao and not a superfood. Processed cocoa is what later becomes the chocolate we are familiar with eating. The darker the chocolate, the healthier because it'll contain more of the cacao benefits. Cacao is commonly sold as both a powder and nibs (like raw chocolate chips) after being dried at a low temperature (keeping it raw). It has a bitter taste when unsweetened. It is good for your heart, able to lower bad cholesterol as well as help control blood pressure and glucose levels. Cacao contains more antioxidants, like flavonoids (commonly found in tea, grapes and berries), than green tea. Antioxidants destroy the free radicals in our body that harm our cells, accelerate aging, damage our DNA, increase our risk of cancer etc Antioxidants also help decrease inflammation and prevent blood clots. Cacao contains theobromine, a on addictive stimulant that may treat depression and produces anandamide which gives us a feeling of euphoria. 

1oz of cacao nibs contain 120 calories 2.5g fat 20mg sodium 19g carbohydrates 7g fiber 5g protein 4% calcium 16% iron. 

Due to the caffeine content and theobromine, you want to consume cacao in moderation to avoid negative side effects and of course, some people are more sensitive to it than others. If you experience anxiety, heartburn or sleeplessness you may need to cut back.


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