But the fact is, you don’t need to necessarily get your hands on strange-sounding substances like acai and camu camu berries to harness the power of superfoods. This is because a superfood is simply a food that is significantly higher in nutrients per calorie than most common foods. So while you can certainly exhaust yourself with a global quest to find ancient bitter melon rinds or rock lotus extract, a superfood doesn’t really need to be expensive or hard to find.
In fact, there are many superfoods that are easy to discover, easy to grow, easy to cook, and easy to juice, blend, prep or to simply eat in raw form. Here are some of my favorite, nutrient-dense superfoods that I can find locally and eat on a weekly basis.
Eggs are easy to blend, cook and scramble with other foods, and (assuming you don’t make the cardinal mistake of throwing out the yolk) are high in fat-soluble vitamins, choline, folate, selenium, lecithin, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids. Get your eggs from a grass-fed, pastured, organic source and like I mentioned – don’t skip the yolk! For full benefit, an egg needs to be eaten with all the components – and not dumped from a cardboard carton of egg whites. After a good, hard afternoon workout, as a “breakfast for dinner” meal, I love to scramble a few eggs with avocado, turmeric, sea salt and fish, then serve in a nori seaweed wrap. Just think of it as a scrambled superfood surprise.
2. Sea vegetables
Seaweeds such as nori, kelp, dulse, algae, spirulina, chlorella and other ocean flora are incredibly high iodine, magnesium, manganese, iron, and trace minerals. In the Asian food section of your local grocery store, you can easily purchase kelp or dulse flakes to sprinkle on food, you can add dried kombu to soups and stews, you can order a side of seaweed salad when you’re at the sushi restaurant, or you can use nori wraps as an alternative to bread or grain-based wraps. Many nutrition websites and health food stores even sell dense sources of sea vegetables in the form of chewable chlorella and spirulina based tablets. These are good to have around the house for nighttime cravings, or to toss in a ziplock bag for a workout (they actually go quite well with dark chocolate chips and sea salt!).
3. Organ meats
On most nutrient-density charts, organ meats and oils blow nearly any other food out of the water. What is an organ meat? Think thyroid, heart, liver, bone and bone marrow and just about anything other than the skeletal “meat” of an animal. Liver, for example, is not only a fantastic source of fat soluble vitamins, but also gives you nearly every other nutrient on the face of the planet. Make sure you get your liver from a clean, reputable source – such as a local, organic, grass-fed beef – and simply fry it up with some heart-healthy, butyric-acid rich organic butter and quercetin-packed red onions. You’ll feel like a million bucks the next day.
4. Bone broth
Every week in the Greenfield house, we make a big vat of bone broth that typically lasts all week long. We usually do this by using a whole chicken, although you can also use beef, pork or other bones. Once you’ve learned how to make it once (which is very simple to do by doing an internet search for “how to make bone broth”), bone broth is easy to make over and over again, and is a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids. When consumed along with the marrow that seeps into the broth, it can also heal your digestive system, fix joint pain, and enhance sleep. If you don’t have time to make bone broth, you can get some of the benefits by purchasing and using collagen powder regularly. I prefer to use an organic, clean source of collagen such as Great Lakes or Bernard Jensen, and simply throw a few tablespoons into a morning smoothie.
Oysters and mussels are extremely nutrient dense, and just a few medium-sized oysters can supply over 1000% of your daily vitamin B12 needs, along with enormous doses of vitamin A, Vitamin E, copper, selenium, zinc and essential fatty acids. Mussels are a close second to oysters, and are rich in the entire B-vitamin complex, along with selenium, zinc, protein, magnesium, and manganese. As with any meat or seafood source, it’s important to choose a clean, fresh source of shellfish – but including a serving of superfood shellfish just once every week or two can make a drastic improvement in your overall nutrient intake.
Natto is a fermented soybean derivative that is actually quite easy to make if you grab a starter portion (easy to find at any local Asian market), and then ferment along with soybeans (easy to find at just about any grocery store). Although the “snot-like” texture of natto takes some getting used to, it has extremely high levels of one important bone and blood-building vitamin that most people tend to be very deficient in: vitamin K2. Natto can be eaten for breakfast with some scrambled eggs and avocado, or simply served on its own, topped with sea salt and a generous serving of extra virgin olive oil. Believe it or not, natto is also quite good with mustard.
7. Any dark colored fruit, vegetable or starch
You’ve no doubt heard before that blueberries, pomegranates, etc. are known “superfoods”, and there’s a reason for the well-known status of colored foods in this category. The polyphenols and bioactive health compounds found in plants are no higher than in fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, purple grapes, pomegranates and currants, vegetables such as purple cabbage, kale, organic tomatoes and dark orange carrots, and starches such as sweet potatoes, yams and taro. If you open your refrigerator or look at your countertop or garden, they should be chock full of colorful compounds. Lack of color can mean lack of life!
8. Fermented foods
Similar to soaking or sprouting, fermentation of a food increases nutrient bioavailability and digestibility, and renders many foods that would normally be irritating to the digestive tract (such as wheat, dairy or soy) extremely digestible and nutrient dense. Traditionally, cultures around the world have fermented a number of different products. For example, in Asia, there is natto, kimchi, kefir; in the Middle East, pickles , yogurts, and torshi; in Europe use of sauerkraut and rakfisk, and Pacific islanders with poi and kanga pirau. In Canada and America, we eat all these and also include kombucha and (yes, this does count as a fermented food) dark chocolate (preferably organic 80%+). So include a variety of fermented foods in your diet to round out these superfoods, and your gut bacteria balance and immune system will thank you heartily.
If you enjoyed reading about these eight superfoods, and you want to learn about more superfoods, or perhaps even delve into some of the lesser known varieties, then you should listen to my podcast episodes “How To Grow Your Own Superfoods” and “Some Of The Craziest Superfoods You’ve Never Heard Of”. If you have questions, comments or feedback, you can leave them below and myself or the team from EarthEasy will be happy to answer!