When going vegan, my capacity for knowledge when it came to food nutrition, had to evolve, lest I’d end up eating rice green peas and lettuce every day, clueless as to why I’m not healthy.
A superfood, by informal definition, is a food that is highly nutritious, dense in a wide range of nutrients. These foods can provide health benefits, provide additional benefits and improve general well-being.
Read on to discover 11 superfoods you can introduce into your diet today!
Moringa is known as the tree of life in many a culture, and its leaves, bark and seeds are cultivated for use.
Rich in a wide range of nutrients, including calcium, potassium, iron and B-vitamins as well as plant-based protein. Moringa can be drank as a tea, or it’s powdered leaves (more nutrient-dense) can be added to smoothies.
Having been cultivated for centuries for its medicinal and nutritional uses, this plant is a true superfood that you should incorporate into your diet.
It is rich in antioxidants, nutrients and can be used to help treat anemia, lower high blood pressure and provides a natural source of caffeine free, invigorating energy.
This plant native to the Asian continents and South America, is beneficial for the skin, protective of the liver, good for the stomach and bones, assists with the treatment of diabetes.
As well as providing a plethora of general health benefits – It is also inexpensive and has a mild taste, so could easily be incorporated into your daily diet.
Cacao, the unadulterated version of cocoa powder, unheated and rich in minerals naturally present in the cacao plant.
Nutrients available in cacao include the minerals Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron and Copper, as well as being a natural source of caffeine, a great addition to a pre-workout smoothie, to give you that additional boost of energy.
Cacao powder tastes great in smoothies when you add some dates or bananas to sweeten, and good for use in baked goods, whereas it’s more nutritious when consumed raw.
In ancient South American cultures, Mayans and Aztecs in particular believed it held great medicinal and physiological benefits,. Believed that only the great warriors, merchants and noble people could drink it.
With its many uses, great taste and easy ways to incorporate into the daily diet, cacao is a great vegan superfood for those who need an energy boost. Just bear in mind to monitor your intake as you may consume too much caffeine.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 3 years, you’ve more than likely seen the increase in CBD products in general, regarding their overall presence in the food, as well as the beauty industry.
But did you know there were also parts of the hemp plant, in particular the seeds that are edible and have a whole host of health benefits?
Well, hemp seeds are high in Iron, Copper, Zinc and can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet as a complete vegan protein source.
You can easily incorporate hemp seeds into your diet by sprinkling some on top of your cereals, oats, salads and soups. As well as blitzing them up in a smoothie for your pre-workout fuel.
If you don’t enjoy the taste and texture of hemp seeds in general you could always just opt for hemp protein powder instead, made from the seeds also.
Maca is a root plant native to Peru that has been cultivated for thousands of years, dating back to over 3000 years ago.
It has a subtle, nutty aroma and flavour to it, is rich in a range of nutrients such as copper and iron, and has been reported to have numerous health benefits associated with its regular consumption.
These benefits include improved sex drive, improved mood, boosted energy and endurance, reduction of free radical damage as well as other benefits regarding improved fertility.
Maca is easy to incorporate into the diet, you can sprinkle it on top of your overnight oats or add a tablespoon to your morning smoothie.
Ginseng was discovered 5,000 years ago in Northern China, another root plant, which behaves like an adaptogen when consumed.
Adaptogens work to balance the body’s hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal glands. Making ginseng useful for management of depression and anxiety disorders, and for general mental wellness and hormonal balance.
Other uses of ginseng that have been reported include for general energy, improved muscular development and to lower blood sugar. You can consume them in tablet form or in a tea – It is advised to check with a medical professional prior to supplementing with ginseng.
The goji berry is native to China, and needless to say, is a fruit that is highly nutrient dense, providing a wide range of health benefits.
They are usually consumed in dried form, where they can be soaked to sweeten teas, added to smoothies, and sprinkled on top of morning oats and even salads.
Health benefits said to have been reported with consistent consumption of goji berries include eye protection, stronger immune system, healthy skin and liver protection. It’s also been reported to help improve anxiety, depressive tendencies and sleep quality.
It is commonly used pre-workout as quality fuel, and is good for fueling sex drive and balancing libido and testosterone in men. As it’s rather pricey, you’d want to incorporate this vegan superfood into the diet in small doses.
Spirulina is a form of seaweed, or algae that grows in both sea and freshwater, which is now becoming more commonly recognised as a superfood people are incorporating into their diets.
Its nutrient profile is strong, being a source of an array of vitamins, including Calcium, iron, niacin, B-vitamins and magnesium. The algae has been reported to help lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, be beneficial for the prevention of anemia and in decreasing inflammation.
Not only does it provide these benefits, it is also a natural plant-based protein source, that is beneficial for athletes for both endurance and muscle development.
You can incorporate powdered spirulina into your diet by adding it to smoothies – bear in mind it does have a strong taste so ensure you mask it with sweet fruits such as banana or pineapple; Spirulina is also cultivated in its blue variety, so you can use it is as a natural blue food colouring.
The Chaga mushroom is a fungus that grows on the bark of the birch tree in cold climates, originating in Northern Europe, Siberia, Russia, as well as Korea and other countries.
It is considered a nutrient-dense superfood as it is rich in a wide array of minerals, vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants. Some including B-vitamins, Potassium, Copper as well as being a plant-based source of Vitamin D.
This plant-based superfood has also been reported to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system, fighting inflammation and lowering blood sugar.
The properties of this superfood mean it may have the potential to have a chance to combat chronic inflammation in autoimmune patients, as well as providing general all-round nutrients for the health-savvy.
You can incorporate this into your diet today by brewing chaga mushroom tea, or adding it to your daily smoothies. Ensure you do your research prior to introducing it into your diet as everybody is different and may react differently upon sudden use.
Chia seeds is another plant-based food currently growing in popularity, due to its simplicity, yet versatile and highly nutritional nature.
“Chia”, literally translated from ancient Mayan, translates to “strength”, and it has been reported the chia seed was cultivated heavily for use in religious ceremonies: for drinks, grains, as well as for warriors to consume when heading into battle.
Chia seeds are edible seeds from the Salvia hispanica plant, with a nutty flavour and pack a nutritional punch. They are rich in Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Fibre, as well as chia seeds in their nature being a complete protein.
They can be sprinkled on top of salads, soups, added to smoothies. You can also try an overnight chia pudding to benefit from the seeds with a higher dose. A great addition for those who work out, you’ll quickly notice the benefits of the humble chia seed.
Quinoa is an ancient grain that has said to be cultivated to cultures dating back 3-4,000 years ago, with the Incas. In fact, they considered it the “mother grain” and had Incan emperors plant the first seeds every year.
Quinoa is technically a seed, but is referred to as a pseudocereal, and is rich in protein, Magnesium, Manganese, Folate, Iron, Zinc and Fibre, making it a fantastic substitute for rice, both nutritionally and taste.
Gym-goers would be glad to know that quinoa is a plant based complete protein source, providing all necessary amino acid for protein assimilation.
It can be enjoyed as the base of a salad, as an alkaline rice substitute, as a breakfast cereal or even processed into flour.
Quinoa is a superfood that is easy to incorporate into your daily diet, and you’d only wish you would have done it sooner.
A more commonly known fruit, well, at least as a food on this list, the pomegranate has been eaten for years, known as the sweet-bitter fruit with lots of seeds that has really nice juice and stuff.
But did you know that pomegranates host an array of health benefits despite mere sweetness?
Rich in B-vitamins, Vitamin C, Potassium, fibre and even with small amounts of Zinc, Calcium and Magnesium. This fruit is beneficial for male hormonal balance, is high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and reduces cholesterol.
Pomegranates have been long cultivated and heavily associated with boosting fertility, with scientifically backed studies to prove so.
This prestigious fruit can be enjoyed alone and eaten with a spoon, added to salads as a natural “fruit”-on (get it? Crouton) or juiced and mixed in grains such as quinoa or wild rice to give it a little twist.
Some superfoods to add to your shopping list…
So there we go, some vegan superfoods that are somewhat easy to find and why to incorporate them into your diet.
Bear in mind some of these foods are more potent and affect the body a lot more intensely than other foods on this list, so ensure you are cautious with how you adjust your diet with some of these foods.
Hopefully you learned something of use today, come back next week for another vegan lifestyle advice post or later this week for my latest recipe – Stay blessed and Veganise it!