Top 10 Superfoods to Add to your Diet | The Healthful Ideas

Top 10 Superfoods to Add to your Diet

April 30, 2015

Hi, I’m Veronika and superfoods are my obsession. I add raw cacao and chia seeds to almost everything I make, sprinkle my salads with chlorella, and go through a jar of coconut oil in the blink of an eye.

The word ‘Superfoods’ became sort of a trend lately which is both good and bad, depending how you look at it. Superfoods going mainstream is great because more people are now aware of their benefits and the sole fact that they exist. However, some people tend to throw the term around without much care. The point of calling something ‘a superfood’ is it being more nutrient dense and therefore more beneficial for your health – super healthy, if you will. I mean, oats or argula are no superfoods. They are great foods, yes, but superfoods are often something tropical or unusual you wouldn’t normally find between cucumbers and apples at the grocery store. They’re goji berries, chia seeds, maca root powder, spirulina, or incan berries.


Nowadays there are so many superfoods available, which can overwhelm someone newly introduced to the topic. If I were to name ALL my favorites, this would easily turn into ‘My Top 100 Superfoods I Can’t Live Without‘. Instead I cut it down to 10 I really really like and consume on a daily basis.

Everything I talk about in this post should be easily accesible to you either at a health food store or over the internet. You don’t have to run out the door tomorrow and buy everything on the list. It’s just a suggestion on where to start when trying to include more superfoods into your diet. You can easily blend these into smoothies and create delicious breakfasts.

In my opinion, these superfoods complete my morning smothies. It’s one thing to make a chocolate milk shake with bananas, cacao, and coconut milk, but adding lucuma or vanilla powder takes the drink to a whole new level of awesomeness.

top-10-superfoods

Baobab powder

I started consuming baobab just recently, though it’d been in my pantry for almost a year. I like to add it to smoothies along with berries or tropical fruit as I find baobab to taste best that way. It’s more of a ”summer powder” as I would normally add it to my banana ice cream or tropical smoothies. Obviously, you can eat it in winter too to boost your vitamin intake.

Baobab powder comes from baobab fruit which grown on the Baobab tree. There are six species of the Baobab tree. The trees are native to Madagascar, mainland Africa, Australia, and Arabia. (source: Wikipedia) The fruit is the size of a young coconut and it has a tart flavor similar to citrus fruits, especially grapefruit. It’s hard to explain, you just have to try it for yourself.

What are the benefits of Baobab powder?

Baobab is very high in fiber and is full of vitamins—especially vitamin C (almost 10 times the amount of vitamin C in oranges!). It also contains a great amount of vitamins B1, B2, and minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and zinc. It even contains a small amount of protein and healthy fats.

Baobab is a great source of antioxidants, which greatly supports the immune system, improves skin, and aids to loosing weight.

Baobab helps you to stay energized and alert due to the high amount of vitamin C. The potassium in Baobab supports the nervous system, and the iron in Baobab may help you raise low iron levels.

How to use?

I love adding baobab into smoothies containing berries. I really like the combination of banana, strawberries, and baobab. I wouldn’t recommend using Baobab powder in baking. All the vitamins would be destroyed and it doesn’t taste that good when you cook with it, but you can always try. Experiment with different flavors and find what works best for you!

Baobab is best stored in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Where to purchase?

You can buy it on Vitalvibe (only for the Czech Republic) or in a health food store near you. (I was really surprised I wasn’t able to find it on iHerb!)

Cacao powder

Where do I even start with cacao? Cacao is definitely my #1 superfood but it’s not all just about cacao powder.

I already taked about what I look for in chocolate and what ingredients you should try to avoid when buying a chocolate bar in my other post here so you can check that out, if you like.

It all starts with cacao beans. I usually get them in the form of cacao nibs which are shelled and crushed cacao beans. Coconut nectar covered cacao nibs are the perfect snack when your’re craving something sweet or well, chocolate. Then it divides into cacao powder and cacao butter. Cacao powder is dried at low temperatures (preferably, otherwise it’s roasted and the nutrients are lost) and stripped of the fat so it can then become a dry powder. Cacao butter speaks for itself, it’s simply all the fat content from the cacao beans.

What’s the difference between CACAO and COCOA?

A lot of people are confused by these terms but it really couldn’t be more simple.

Cacao powder is cold processed and cocoa is roasted. What does that mean? It means that Cacao powder is the raw, most natural form of cacao. It’s full of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. As opposed to Cocoa powder, often called ‘Dutch processed cocoa’, which is processed with high temperatures. Most of the antioxidants and vitamins are lost when roasted which is the biggest downside of cocoa. With cocoa, you also have to carefully read the ingredients list and look out for sneaky preservatives and added sugar.

Cacao also has slightly different flavor than Cocoa. Roasted cocoa has more robust and deep flavor — more bitter in my opinion. Cacao is the real deal—when I first tried it, I was sold. It’s so much better than roasted cocoa. Cacao tastes so much better in smoothies than cocoa. You can really taste the cacao that way and you don’t have to cover it with tons of sugar as brands usually do in conventional chocolate bars. I’m not going to go into too much detail with chocolate bars, as I talked about that in my Raw Chocolate sauce post.

What are the benefits of raw cacao?

Cacao is very high in antioxidants, even higher than Acai! It contains great amount of minerals, such as iron, magnesium (highest in magnesium of all foods), manganese, and calcium. It also contains some vitamins, for example vitamin C, which would be lost with roasting. Consuming cacao increases the levels of seratonin in the brain, which leads to better mood, better sleep, more positive attitude, and overall happiness — there you have it, a dozen of excuses to add raw chocolate into your diet! This is where the term ‘Chocolate is healthy’ gets relevant.

How to use?

You can use raw cacao whereever you’d normally use cocoa. Pastry, oatmeal, smoothies, hot chocolate, ice cream—the possibilities are endless.

Check out all my recipes containing Cacao powder HERE.

Where to purchase?

I never stop trying new cacao powders. I’ve tried so many and each of them was different. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how many brands I try, Sunfood cacao will always be my #1 favorite. It beats all the other cacao powders, I swear. It’s just my honest opinion. It has the richest chocolate flavor ever, it’s not too bitter and has great aroma. It’s too bad I don’t live in the USA, because shipping it to Europe from them is way too expensive.

If you live in Europe like me, you can try buing it on iHerb.com (and for those living in the US—I think there’s a free shipping option on iHerb) as the shipping is quite cheap if you choose airmail. Also, if you don’t go over €25, you don’t pay tax in your country. (This may only apply to the Czech Republic, I’m not sure)

Also, if you live in the Czech Republic, you can try out the Vitalvibe Cacao powder, which is also, to my surprise, really good—if I do say so myself.

If you use iHerb, make sure to use my discount code: ZLN873 to get $10 off your first order! You can check out my favorite products in my iHerb profile! Sunfood Cacao on iHerb

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are one of the first superfoods I discovered. They’re extremely easy to incorporate into your diet—you can sprinkle them onto your salads, add them into your smoothies or make a healthy pudding out of them. I like to buy bigger bags of chia seeds as they store well and they’re cheaper that way.

What are the benefits of Chia seeds?

Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to great mental health. They’re loaded with fiber (40% of their weight) which keeps you feeling full for hours and it’s also great for your digestion. They’re full of antioxidants that protect the healthy fats in chia seeds as well as shield you from free radicals or cell damage.

Although chias are full of carbohydrates, they don’t raise your blood sugar because most of the carbs in them are fiber. The high amount of fiber helps them expand up to 10 times their size when added to water. They quite low in calories which makes them a great food if you want the nutrients but don’t want any extra calories. Plus all the fiber and protein help you to have less cravings, feel more full, and lose weight as a result.

Chia seeds are a great source of calcium,  magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. They also contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, and trace minerals such as zinc or potassium.

How to use?

I love adding chia seeds into my morning smoothies to thicken them up and add omega-3s. I also really enjoy chia pudding. If I’m making baked oatmeal, I like to add a teaspoon or so into the batter simply to, again, boost the omega-3s. You can add them to breads or other baked goods, create raw desserts with them, or make a jar of healthy jam using them!

Store your chia seeds in a cool, dry place.

Check out all my recipes containing Chia seeds HERE.

Where to purchase?

I get mine from Vitalvibe, but you can also purchase them on iHerb if you’re not in the Czech Republic.

iHerb discount code: ZLN873 (get $10 off your first purchase)

chia-seeds

Chlorella powder

I’ve been kind of obsessed with chlorella powder this month. I love adding it into my smoothies and I quite like the chlorella-cacao combination. I sprinkle it on my salads too sometimes to boost the nutritinal value of my meal. I actually find it better tasting than spirulina—it contains even more chlorophyll so I’m all about chlorella. However, try out spirulina too to find out what works best for you. Spirulina has more protein than chlorella so if you’re trying to add more plant based protein into your diet, I definitely recommend spirulina.

What are the benefits of  Chlorella?

As I already mentioned, chlorella is the highest source of chlorophyll, which helps to transfer oxygen to our cells. Chlorella is a great source of vitamins, such as: vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, C, and a good source of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. Chlorella is a great detoxifier—it helps to get your body rid of heavy metals and other junk you don’t want to store in your body. It helps you to focus, increases your energy levels, and boosts your immune system, which is really important.

It can aid to lower your bad cholesterol levels, relieve from PMS, or it may even lower your stress levels over time. It acts as an antioxidant and can be applied to skin.

How to use?

The best way to add chlorella to your diet is simply blend 1/2-1 tsp of it into your morning smoothie. Chlorella also goes really well with all kinds of berries. You can also use it to make your food green naturally, for example pancakes or cupcakes! If you don’t want to eat it in a powdered form, there are also chlorella tablets available—which are basically just chlorella powder pressed into tablets with no additives or coating. Always read the label and buy only pure, organic Chlorella!

I like to add it to my homemade face mask along with honey, lemon juice, and zeolite.

Chlorella is best stored in the fridge after opening.

Check out all my recipes containing Chlorella powder HERE.

Where to purchase?

I like either HealthForce Chlorella in tablets or in powdered form or Sunfood Chlorella tablets. You can also find the same products on Vitalvibe, apart from the Sunfood chlorella.

iHerb discount code: ZLN873 (get $10 off your first purchase)

Coconut oil

I use coconut oil literally for everything. I first came across it a few years back when I heard a beauty vlogger on youtube talking about it. She said that it’s a great moisturiser and that you can even use it in the kitchen for cooking. I was really confused at first, I’m not gonna lie. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that you could actually cook with a moisturiser. Anyway, a few years went by and now it’s a staple for me. Coconut oil is one of the things I can’t live without along with avocados and medjool dates.

What are the benefits of Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is a great source of saturated fats. It contains a lot of medium chain fatty acids, which are digested differently than long chain fatty acids. They go straight to the liver and are immediatelly used up by the body for energy and they greatly contribute to mental health. It’s said that coconut oil may also help people with Alzheimer’s or epilepsy.

How to use?

There are a million uses for coconut oil. You can use it for anything and everything, really. As far as cooking goes, it’s great as a substitute for butter in baking, you can use it for cooking from pancakes to eggs and roasted veggies. You can use it to make raw chocolate sauce or simply add it to smoothies for added creaminess and healthy fats. Don’t be afraid to use it in savory dishes when you’d normally use olive or vegetable oil (sauteeing, roasting). The final product won’t taste like coconut (unless you add too much, of course) and coconut oil has much higher smoke point so it’s great for cooking. Or you can use it to make raw chocolate!

Then, outside the kitchen, you can use it as a moisturizer, make up remover or as a general face wash (only try not to wash it off your face in the bathroom sink as that would clog it). You can clean your teeth with it—it’s called oil pulling. You basically take a tablespoon of coconut oil, put it in your mouth first thing in the morning, swish it around in your mouth for 10-15 mins, spit it out (again, not into the bathroom sink) and brush your teeth with regular toothpaste. My current favorite toothpaste is this one with neem bark. It tastes like ginger bread, to be honest, but I don’t mind that—I really like it in fact! Plus it doesn’t contain all the nasties regular toothpastes do!

Check out all my recipes containing Coconut oil HERE.

Where to purchase?

You can get it either on iHerb or I like to get my on Freshbedynky (Czech Republic only). There are a lot of brands to choose from on iHerb, I simply linked to the one I tried but you can choose whichever you like.

iHerb discount code: ZLN873 (get $10 off your first purchase)

Hemp seeds

People always get quite confused when I talk about hemp seeds. The prime reaction is usually laughter followed by ”Wait, so you eat weed?”. But this has nothing to do with weed. I don’t smoke the leaves, I eat the seeds. Plus I’m talking about industial, food grade hemp. Hemp seeds are an amazing addition to salads, smoothies and they’re great to simply snack on. I always buy hemp ‘hearts’ as those are already shelled. The high amount of protein and fat in hemp seeds help you to feel full for a longer period of time and give you great enegry.

What are the benefits of Hemp seeds?

Hemp seeds are a great of omega-3s and omega-6s. They’re one of the best protein sources for vegetarians. They contain all amino acids which makes them a complete protein source. Hemp seeds are also a good source of magnesium and they also contain some iron and potassium.

How to use?

I like to eat hemp seeds sprinkled on sliced bread with some mashed avocado or on salads. You could also add it to smoothies for extra creaminess and healthy fats. Or you could make hemp milk out of them (the same way you’d make coconut or othe nut milk—only without soking the seeds).

Hemp seeds are best stored in the fridge after opening.

Check out all my recipes containing Hemp seeds HERE.

Where to purchase?

I like to get mine from Vitalvibe. If you don’t live in the Czech republic, you can get them on iHerb. Here are links to a few brands you can try out: Navitas, Manitoba Harvest, Now Foods. Or you can buy them at a local health food store.

iHerb discount code: ZLN873 (get $10 off your first purchase)

lucuma-powder

Lucuma powder

Lucuma is a subtropical fruit native to the Peruvian Andes. It’s also referred to as  the “Gold of the Incas” or an “egg-fruit” due to its shape and its yellow flesh. The fruit itself is very dry so it’s not usually eaten alone, but mixed with other fruits into ice creams and shakes. Its unique flavor could be described as caramel-like, similar to maple syrup. I personally like the combination of lucuma-mesquite-vanilla-cacao. It’s quite sweet so it can substitute any other sweetener and it’s lower on GI, than maple syrup, honey or other sweeteners.

What are the benefits of Lucuma?

It’s a great source of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Especially Niacin (vitamin B3), beta-carotene, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.

I wouldn’t necessarily call Lucuma a SUPERfood because it doesn’t have that many extraordinary nutritional values but it tastes amazing and it’s a great addition to other superfoods available in powdered form. It does contain vitamins and minerals and it’s ideal to add into your daily smoothies for some diversity and new flavor.

How to use?

Store your Lucuma powder in a cool, dry place away from light.

Check out all my recipes containing Lucuma powder HERE.

Where to purchase?

Again my favorite Lucuma powder is by Sunfood.  You can buy it there or on iHerb.

If you live in the Czech Republic you can try Lucuma by Vitalvibe.

iHerb discount code: ZLN873 (get $10 off your first purchase)

Maca powder

Maca is a great adaptogen since it grows in such extreme conditions—sunlight, winds, changes of the temperature, and frost. It’s good to consume for those living in colder climates as it has a warming effect on our body. For that reason, maca oatmeal is the ultimate breakfast for a cold morning. Adaptogens naturally help us to adapt to bad conditions and stress, and balance our hormones, nervous and cardiovascular systems.

What are the benefits of Maca?

Maca increases strenght, stamina, and libido. It can help improve one’s mood and it greatly supports the endocrine system and good thyroid function. If you haven’t read the about me page, thyroid problems are something I used to struggle with. I wouldn’t necessarily say maca alone cured me, but I feel better eating it. (What helped my thyroid fuction was, in my opinion, an increased amount of iodine which I apply it in a liquid form topically every day, and the consumption of raw brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds. Brazil nuts for selenium and pupkin seeds for zinc.) It’s said that when you have thyroid problems, you should avoid raw cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, radishes, kale, as well as maca. However, I think the pros outweight the cons here and unless you consume too much every day for a long perio of time, I think you’ll be fine.

I usually add 1-2 tsp of maca powder into my smoothies or oatmeal according to how pronounced I want the flavor to be. I find it to taste better in baked or cooked meals, as that is how I started liking it. And that way, you don’t have to worry about eating too much of it raw.

Ideally, you want to consume it daily for one month max., then give it a break for a few weeks and continue. I don’t really think about it this way, though. I like to change up what I eat so there’s no way I’d consume maca every single day because it doesn’t go with everything.

Maca is a great source of carbohydrates and is protein. It’s also rich in vitamins B1, B2, C, and E, and minerals such as: calcium, iron, potasium, magnesium, sodium, and sulfur. It also contains a few trace minerals: selenium, zinc, manganese, and copper.

How to use?

My most favorite way to consume Maca is probably in oatmeal. It goes really well with cacao and lucuma. You can add it to smoothies, my Raw Chocolate Sauce (it acts as an emulsifier—helps the oil bind well together with the maple syrup), or you could even add it to savory dishes,. I have yet to try that, though.

Maca powder is best stored in a cool, dry place away from light.

Check out all my recipes containing Maca powder HERE.

Where to purchase?

I get mine either from Sunfood on iHerb or if you’re in the Czech Republic, you can check out the one on Vitalvibe.

iHerb discount code: ZLN873 (get $10 off your first purchase)

Maqui berry powder

Maqui berries are wild berries native to the Patagonia region of Southern Chile. People have been consuming them for centuries to help them boost their strength. They have a deep flavor similar to acai or blackberries. I personally prefer Maqui to Acai, but you can always substitute it with Acai, or even blueberries if you can’t get a hold of Maqui berry powder.

What are the benefits of Maqui berries?

Maqui berry is a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Especially vitamins A, B1, B3, and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and copper.

How to use?

The best use for Maqui berry powder is adding it to smoothies or ice creams, as it’s best to consume it raw. It goes great with cacao, carob, or other berries. I like to add Camu Camu berry powder into my Maqui berry smoothies. Camu Camu berries are the best source of vitamin C on the planet! I love the banana-mango-raspberry-maqui-camucamu combination.

Maqui berry powder is best stored in a cool, dry place away from light or in the fridge.

Check out all my recipes containing Maqui berry powder HERE.

Where to purchase?

Again, as most superfoods I get mine from iHerb or Sunfood. Or you can try the Vitalvibe one. I know maqui powder can get pricey so if you don’t want to spend so much money on it, feel free to substitute it with acai.

iHerb discount code: ZLN873 (get $10 off your first purchase)

Mesquite powder

Mesquite powder comes from the mesquite tree which produces leguminous pods which are then ground into a powder you can buy at a health food store. The tree is native to the Americas and the fruits have been used as a non-glycemic sweetener for thousands of years. Mesquite has a very rich, nutty, smoky flavor, with a slight hint of caramel and it goes very well with Lucuma powder and vanilla.

What are the benefits of Mesquite powder?

Mesquite is rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. It’s also a good source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and amino acid lysine.

How to use?

I love adding Mesquite powder to my chocolate smoothies because it adds a great nutty flavor, yet keeps it nut-free. It also goes great with Vanilla, Lucuma, Maca, or carob. You can add it to smoothies, my Raw Chocolate Sauce or baked goods. It’s also a great addition to nut and seed butters.

Mesquite powder is best stored in a cool, dry place away from light.

Check out all my recipes containing Mesquite powder HERE.

Where to purchase?

My mesquite powder is from Sunfood. But you can also buy it from iHerb. They also sell it on Vitalvibe.

iHerb discount code: ZLN873 (get $10 off your first purchase)

goji-berries

My other favorite superfoods you can try out:

Disclaimer: The links in this post are affiliate links. It means that I get a small amount of money if you click the link and buy something. However, I share only products I’m 100% happy with and really like. I added the links to make it easier for you to choose what brand to start with. Hope it helps! :)


2 Comments

  • Reply Jen Preston June 2, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Your photography is so beautiful! I just tried chia seed pudding for the first time this morning and thought of you. Hope you are well!

    • thehealthfulideas
      Reply thehealthfulideas June 15, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Chia pudding is the best. Thank you!

    Leave a Reply

    126 Shares
    Pin107
    +1
    Stumble1
    Tweet
    Share18