The future of food is now! As we dive into a new year, there’s no better time to take a look at which superfoods can power your diet though 2021.
You might already be eating goji berries and dark leafy greens, however, it’s probably time to shake up your diet with some new (and delicious) ways to get essential nutrients. So what’s on the horizon in the world of superfoods? Let’s take a look.
What is a “superfood”?
Superfoods are foods that have a high nutritional density, meaning they offer a significant amount of nutrients within a small amount of calories. 1 Basically, a superfood packs a lot of nutritional punch in a tiny package. Incorporating superfoods into your diet is a great way to find new, healthy foods and keep your go-to meals interesting.
When you consider adding new foods to your repertoire, you should always ensure that you are keeping a balanced diet and sourcing organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, and non-GMO foods to keep your body free of excess toxins. Eating clean and following these guidelines can help you avoid toxins that can cause inflammation in your body.
Top 10 Superfoods
Now, let’s review what this year has to offer in terms of super healthy, super tasty superfoods!
Don’t let the name worry you. There’s absolutely no bread involved with this superfood. This fruit, which comes from the Philippines, gets its name from its white flesh which has a bread-like texture. It’s not what you might think of as a fruit, either.
Breadfruit’s flavor is not sweet. Instead, it tastes like a mixture of artichoke and chestnut. It can be eaten raw or cooked in the same way you’d prepare a potato. This makes breadfruit a great potato substitute, and perfect for those who are looking for a way to enjoy a potato-like texture with a lower glycemic index than potatoes.
Unlike a potato, breadfruit will not wreak havoc on your gut. It earns its title as a superfood by packing a punch of nutrients, including 25% of the daily recommended fiber intake in just a ½-cup serving, protein, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, thiamine (B1), and niacin (B3). Breadfruit also provides some carotenoids, such as β-carotene and lutein 2, which are carotenoids that are converted into vitamin A in the liver. 3
Breadfruit can be prepared in so many ways. Whether you fry or bake spears of breadfruit to replace regular fried potatoes, simmer it in a stew, or mash it up with coconut milk, you can’t go wrong with this versatile superfood! Try replacing Yuca with breadfruit with some garlic-lime sauce.
This golden spice is as healthy as it is colorful. Studies suggest that curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric root, is effective in promoting and encouraging optimal detox pathway activity. Curcumin gives this superfood powerful effects such as supporting a healthy inflammatory response and fighting free radicals that it has become known for.
Including a dash of turmeric in your next meal certainly wouldn’t hurt, however relatively large quantities are needed to get the full advantages of this superfood. 4 This is because turmeric spices contain about 3% curcumin, while extracts can contain around 95% curcumin.
Curcumin is also not easily absorbed by your body so you’ll need to get creative. Pair this nutrient with healthy fats like those found in coconut oil or almond or coconut milk to optimize the body’s absorption. Another way to introduce this mellow-flavored superfood into your diet is with a tasty tea.
If you can’t seem to consume enough powdered turmeric to benefit from the curcumin, a great option is to try Liposomal Curcumin, a physician-formulated supplement with the most absorbable, bioavailable form of curcumin available on the market. Don’t worry – you won’t miss out on flavor. This Liposomal Curcumin tastes just like an orange popsicle. Try it in a drink, smoothie, or dessert for a nutrient-dense pop of sweetness.
Eggs have been subject to much debate over the years. On one hand, they offer protein and nutrients for relatively few calories. On the other hand, eggs contain a lot of cholesterol.
However, eating foods high in cholesterol has been found to not necessarily negatively impact cholesterol levels in your blood. This may be because the response of cholesterol in human blood levels to dietary cholesterol consumption depends on many factors including ethnicity, genetic makeup, hormones, and nutritional status. 5 In fact, most people in optimal health can eat up to seven eggs a week with no increase in their risk of heart disease.
While eggs can be inflammatory for those on the autoimmune spectrum, because they contain a variety of bioactive compounds that impact inflammation, they can be a great source of nutrition for those without an allergy or sensitivity to them. 6
Eggs earn their title as a superfood by offering optimal levels of A and B vitamins, choline, selenium, iron, and phosphorus.7 They’re also a great source of protein, especially given their low-calorie count. Eggs can be cooked in a variety of ways, including scrambled, boiled, or poached, and are easily combined with other nutrient-dense foods, such as spinach or other leafy green vegetables.
To find out if you can tolerate eggs, I recommend following an elimination diet and then adding foods back in one by one. You can find more information about an elimination diet in my book, The Autoimmune Solution.
Real extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is true brain food. It’s one of the reasons why so many people choose a Mediterranean diet.
The oil contains tons of polyphenols and antioxidants such as vitamin E, which support memory and learning ability. EVOO’s polyphenols also help combat amyloid-beta plaque and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, which contribute to the degrading of nerve cells in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. 8
Unfortunately, many olive oil products on the shelf are not 100% olive oil. They are cut with lesser quality oils such as canola and colza (rapeseed) oils, so be sure to buy from trustworthy sources, check the ingredients, and look for a Non-GMO Project and/or Certified Organic label.
The best way to add more olive oil into your daily routine is to use it to make a salad dressing or drizzle it into warm soups. That way, you can preserve the heat-sensitive antioxidants that are lost when using it as a cooking oil.
Avocados are another healthy fat option that can be easily be incorporated into your diet. This superfood is high in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). The most predominant MUFA in avocados is Oleic acid, which is linked to reduced inflammation in the body.9
This rich, creamy fruit packs in a lot of nutrition into one delicious package. It’s full of vitamins K, E, B5, and B6, in addition to folate and potassium. It’s also low-carb and full of fiber, making avocados perfect for anyone following the Keto diet or trying to watch their intake of carbohydrates.
There are so many delicious ways to use this superfood! One of my favorites is this fresh Basil and Arugula Salad with avocado. If you’re looking for something more filling, just add a few slices of avocado to your burger, on top of salmon, in your smoothie, or spread on crackers.
Finally, here’s your excuse to eat chocolate! Dark chocolate is more than just a tasty treat. It’s packing serious health benefits. Dark chocolate differs from other forms of chocolate in that it offers a higher cacao content. Cacao is the source of all the antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, and flavonoids that dark chocolate boasts.
Dark chocolate is shown to support heart health by improving risk factors associated with heart disease. 10 The flavonoids found in cocoa can even protect your skin from the sun.
The European Food Safety authority recommends including 0.1 ounces (2.5 grams) of high-flavanol cocoa powder or 0.4 ounces (10 grams) of high-flavanol chocolate in your diet to support heart health. 11
This superfood offers so many nutrients and tastes so great, you’ll have no problem including more of it in 2021! Birthday Cake Pops make a great treat and are dipped in decadent dark chocolate and filled with protein. I enjoy a small piece of this superfood with sea salt often as a treat.
There’s a reason your mom always gave you ginger ale when you were sick as a child. Ginger is chock-full of nutritious properties that can ease bloating by enhancing motility and accelerating stomach emptying.
Gingerol, the active compound in ginger, was used for centuries to treat illness and promote health naturally. Studies have found that gingerol supports inflammation balance and can reduce oxidative stress by eliminating free radicals in the body.12
Ginger is a spice you can incorporate into so many delicious meals. Carrot and Ginger Soup with Lemon Zest is one of many ways to enjoy this superfood.
Bears definitely have one thing right: salmon is a great part of a healthy diet! This superfood is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your health. Your body does not produce these essential acids on its own, so it’s vital that you find outside sources. Salmon offers lots of this in addition to high-quality protein, B vitamins, and the antioxidant astaxanthin.
Salmon Burgers are a great way to get the benefits of this superfood if a plain fillet isn’t savory enough for you.
Regular potatoes are full of unhealthy starches and are nutrient-bare in relation to the calories per serving.13 Sweet potatoes may be used in any recipe that calls for white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are slightly sweet tubers that are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Including this superfood in your diet can work wonders for your gut health. Research shows that antioxidants in purple sweet potatoes promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, including certain Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species. 14
This superfood can even give you super vision (well, regular vision at least) thanks to the high beta-carotene levels which convert to vitamin A when broken down by your body. This vitamin supports eye health.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi is a great way to hop on this superfood trend. Also consider using sweet potatoes to make fries, a breakfast hash, or any dish typically prepared with white potatoes.
All those gorgeous, turquoise smoothies you see on social media and in coffee shops owe their looks – and their nutrition – to spirulina. This nutritious algae isn’t just for pretty, turquoise smoothies (although those are a good way to eat it).
Spirulina is, in fact, one of the most impressive greens you can add to your diet. Studies show that spirulina can help support regular immune functions and a healthy balance of histamines in your body.15
In its powdered form, 100 grams of spirulina contains exceptional values of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Powdered spirulina is 60-70% protein depending on where it was harvested! It’s also full of vitamin A as beta carotene, vitamin K, and a range of B vitamins. 16
With just one serving of spirulina, you can even hit nearly 50% of the daily recommended intake of calcium for women.17
You can enjoy this superfood in more than just a smoothie. Green Goddess Dressing made with Organic Greens powder will give you a healthy kick of flavor in your next meal.
Honorable Mention: Tiger nuts
As with nuts and starchy tubers such as cassava, tiger nuts can be enjoyed in many ways. Raw, dried tiger nuts are a tasty, gluten-free snack on their own. This ancient food can also be made into a delicious beverage or used as an ingredient in AIP baking and cooking.
The Final Word on Superfoods
Whether you’ve never heard of superfoods like breadfruit or you’re returning to an old favorite like sweet potatoes, your body will thank you for the nutrition you introduce through these superfoods!