I’ve been hearing a lot about superfoods lately. But what are superfoods? Do we really need them? Can superfoods be a part of the Paleo diet?
Superfoods are special class of foods that are found in nature. They are low in calories but high in nutrients giving us a great deal of value for the amount we need to consume. Handled properly, they are exceptional sources of anti-oxidants and crucial nutrients. These are nutrients that we cannot make on our own and must obtain through food.
There are several sources for superfoods. They can come from plant sources such as green plants, fruits, seaweed and herbs. They can also come from honey bees and from hen eggs. While our paleo ancestors would have eaten foods in all of these categories, would they have been as nutrient dense as what we can obtain in a powder or capsule? Undoubtedly not. But then they did not have the same stresses that we have. Our exposure to toxins in our food and the environment are new to the human experience. Our stressful lifestyles, also not within the paleolithic experience, take a toll on our bodies and minds which wear us
down. To have a healthier life it is probably essential that we do take superfoods of one type or another.
The Paleo Diet and Superfoods: Green Foods
There are several types of green superfoods: wheat grass, barley grass, wild blue-green algae, spirulina, chlorella and leafy green vegetables. Each of these affect the body differently. From the Foodmatters website:
Wheat grass – Wheat grass is the sprouted grass of a wheat seed. Unlike the whole grain, because it has been sprouted, it no longer contains gluten or other common allergic agents. Wheat grass is super alkalizing and is excellent for promoting healthy blood. It normalizes the thyroid gland to stimulate metabolism thus assisting digestion and promoting weight loss due also to its high enzyme content and cleansing effect.
Barley grass – Barley grass has 11 times more calcium than cows milk, 5 times more iron than spinach and 7 times more Vitamin C and bio-flavonoids than orange juice. It contains significant amounts of Vitamin B12 which is very important in a vegetarian diet. Barley grass juice has anti-viral activities and neutralizes heavy metals such as mercury in the blood.
This may be the only way you ever eat wheat or barley again, if you take these grass powders. Given the powerful effect these two have on our bodies they are well worth considering. Did our ancestors eat grass? undoubtedly not. We are not ruminants! Does that mean we shouldn’t? I believe we need every advantage we can get. Adding these green superfoods to the Paleo diet can only help.
Wild blue-green algae – Algae was the first form of life on Earth and its power is immense. Wild blue-green algae is a phyto-plankton and contains virtually every nutrient. With a 60% protein content and a more complete amino acid profile than beef or soy beans. It contains one of the best known food sources of beta carotene, B vitamins and chlorophyll. It has been shown to improve brain function and memory, strengthen the immune system and help with viruses, colds and flu.
Spirulina – Spirulina is a cultivated micro-algae which has been consumed for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples in Mexico and Africa. It is one of the highest known protein sources on Earth and contains 70% complete protein, towering over steak which consists of only 25% protein once cooked. Studies have shown that spirulina can help control blood sugar levels and cravings thus making it a key food for diabetics, and can be used to assist in weight loss and as a general nutritional supplement.
Chlorella – Chlorella is a fresh water algae and like its other algae cousins contains a complete protein profile, all the B vitamins, vitamin C and E and many minerals. It is amazing for the immune system and for reducing cholesterol and preventing the hardening of the arteries, a precursor to heart attacks and strokes.
Green leafy vegetables - Green leafy vegetables are so readily available and so highly nutritious, however most people do not eat enough of them. Studies continuously confirm that populations that eat a diet high in green leafy vegetables run a far lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Fresh raw green leafy vegetables contain high doses of chlorophyll, easily digestible proteins, enzymes and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. These particular vegetables act as mini-transfusions for the blood, a health tonic for the brain and immune system and a cleanser of the kidneys. Try any of the following: rocket, spinach, dandelion greens, kale, watercress, parsley, lettuce, endive, chicory, broccoli sprouts and mustard sprouts
We probably would have eaten algae, if only accidentally. Our foods are much cleaner, perhaps too clean, than they have ever been. Because of how clean our foods are, we are missing additional nutrients from the soil and water, like algae.
The most “Paleo” from the list above are the green leafy vegetables. Certainly the easiest and least expensive to include in one’s diet. I find that kale is particularly healthy and easy to eat when made into kale chips. Here is an awesome Kale Chip recipe from Paleo Diet Lifestle:
- 1 big bunch kale;
- 2 tbsp cooking fat, melted;
- 1 tbsp lemon juice;
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;
- Preheat your oven to 300 F.
- Wash the kale thoroughly under lukewarm water, drain and pat it dry.
- Cut the stems off of the kale leaves and cut the leaves to obtain chips of similar size.
- Place the kale in a bowl and massage the melted cooking fat into them.
- Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the lemon juice and combine well.
- Place the kale in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes, until crispy. Check on the chips about every 12 minutes and toss them to make sure none of them overcook. Some parts will still be soft and this is desired.
- Sprinkle with extra sea salt if desired and enjoy.
I believe that the addition of superfoods to the Paleo diet would be a boon. But we are not yet done. There are other superfoods that have other benefits which we’ve yet to explor. Stay tuned!
Would you consider adding superfoods to your diet? Do you already add them? Have you noticed any changes because of that? Please leave your comments below. And please like and and share this article on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!