I’ve heard the term being used around a lot in recent years and never understood what it really meant. I knew about the standard Super Foods such as pomegranates, blueberries, garlic, and broccoli and so on. After doing some research into the subject I learned that there isn’t a scientific definition for the term, it is more so used as marketing terminology to describe foods that have high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Now what are antioxidants? Antioxidants are found naturally in food and protect your body’s cells from damage and help prevent disease. A diet rich in antioxidants can help lower your risk of these diseases. So it’s important to eat foods that are high in antioxidants if you’re planning on ‘Getting Heart Healthy in 2016’.
I’ve comprised my own list of perhaps not so common super foods that all have high levels of vitamins, minerals and those wonderful antioxidants.
1. Acai is a berry from the rain-forests of South America. It is deemed to be a weight loss and anti-aging aid. It has high levels of antioxidants which help fight cancer and hard disease. They are hard to buy fresh but you might be able to find them fresh at health food stores; but can be found frozen, in tablet, powder form and juices.
2. Gogi Berries are native to Mongolia are high in Vitamin C. The Chinese have been using them for hundreds of years to improve vision and circulation problems. They can be bought dried, in power form and in drinks.
3. Cacao contains flavonoids known to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. Raw cocoa, which is not processed, contains tons of antioxidants.
4. Seaweed is high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids which may prevent heart attack/strokes. Seaweed is full of vitamins which include calcium, magnesium, and potassium to name a few. Sushi anyone?
5. Chia Seeds (not Chia Pet Seeds) are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are high in fiber and calcium as well. If you’re not a big fish eater, it a great way to get Omega 3 into your diet. You can simmer it in sauces and soups or add it as a salad topping for a nice pleasant crunch.
6. Mangosteens are from South East Asia and are beyond delicious with a taste similar to lychee fruit, but have a hard shell in a deep maroon colour. They are very hard to find, I’ve purchased them in Chinatown and can be quite pricey if purchased out of season. They are high in xanthones which may combat cancer and inflammation.
7. Maca Powder comes from a root vegetable from the Andes which is dried and processed into a powder that is used to boost energy, endurance and libido. It can be sprinkled on cereals or mixed in with smoothies and have a mild nutty flavour.
8. Kefir originating in Russia is similar to yogurt and made with fermented milk and slightly sour. It is high in probiotics which support a healthy digestive system and boost your immune system.
9. Hemp Heart Seeds are high in protein, Omega 3 and 6 and also contain essential amino acids needed for growth and repair. Personally they act as a great digestive aid (but that’s just me I suppose). They have a nice nutty flavour as well and can be added to soups and salads.
10. Flax Seed Oil/Flax Seeds are high Omega 3, fiber, antioxidants and protein. They can help reduce the risks of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. They are quite versatile as they can be used whole to baked with, can be ground up to add nutrients to your soups and sauces and the oil can be used in salads and vegetables.
Below you’ll find a great Zucchini Walnut Flax Muffin recipe…they're very filling and deliciously good for you!
Zucchini Walnut Flax Muffins
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (make it healthier and use whole wheat flour)
- 3/4 cup white sugar (substitute with brown sugar if you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded zucchini
- 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Mix egg, oil, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract in a bowl; stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in zucchini, ground flax seed, and walnuts. Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.