“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” ~La Rochefoucauld
My friends, we live in exceptional times. For the first time in human history, we have access to the greatest foods from every region in the world.
Think about it. Through globalisation, “superfoods”, which have been revered in their home country for thousands of years, have recently appeared on the shelves of stores around us. Now more than ever, it’s within our power to create the best diet of all-time. What an incredible opportunity!
As David Wolfe writes in Superfoods, “Extremely tasty and satisfying, superfoods have the ability to tremendously increase the vital force and energy of one’s body, and are the optimum choice for improving overall health, boosting the immune system, elevating serotonin production, enhancing sexuality, and cleansing and alkalising the body”.
While I was living in Australia, I had the chance to work alongside two foremost Superfoods expert, Catherine Narbett & Willow Francis. I learned a lot from them, and I spent a lot of time researching & experimenting on my own. Along the way, I made some great discoveries and totally revamped my diet.
Today, I want to present to you what I believe to be the Top 10 Superfoods in the world, based on 3 criteria:
1) Nutritional Value
In my world, the foods we eat should not only be great for us, but they should also taste good and be easy to prepare. The following 10 foods all fit this bill.
Sounds good? Let’s jump in!
10. Sweet Potatoes/Yams
Sweet potatoes are the dream vegetable: they’re healthy, they look cool and they’re SWEET! How I was not introduced to them as a kid is beyond me, but as a grown-up I’m more than making up for it. I’ve been having at least 2 big sweet potatoes every week for the last year.
As displayed by their bright orange coloured, sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene & other nutrients (as a general rule, the more colourful a vegetable, the higher it’s nutritional value). Despite their sweet taste, they’re a long-lasting source of energy (Glycemic Index = 50) and they combine very well with cinnamon, which is known to regulate insulin levels and reduce energy fluctuations.
If you’ve had sweet potato fries, you know that they’re to die for. Making a low-fat version at home is very easy. Sweet potatoes can also be baked whole or used just like any other potato. Since I’ve discovered them, I’ve replaced “normal” potatoes with the sweet version at every occasion and I encourage you to do the same.
9. Matcha Green Tea
While tea isn’t technically a food, Matcha green tea is so nutrient-rich & health-enhancing that I consider it as such (it’s also one of my great allies in my regular bouts of Intermittent Fasting). Made from high-quality Gyokuro green tea leaves that are crushed and pulverized, Matcha Green Tea was first used in Japan over 800 years ago. The Zen monks who consumed it noticed they had better concentration and felt particularly alert after drinking a cup.
Nowadays, Matcha is still used in traditional tea ceremonies in Japan, but the Western world is catching on. We’ve discovered that one cup of Matcha is roughly equivalent to 10 cups of normal green tea in terms of phytonutrients & antioxidants. It’s really like green tea on steroids.
To prepare it, simply add the Matcha powder to ~80 degree Celcius water. It results in a beautiful bright green liquid that can be enjoyed on its own or with a fresh squeeze of lemon and a drop of honey. The “zen” energy it provides last 6 hours and makes it the perfect drink to start the day.
Note: If you drink “normal” green tea, please do yourself a favour and go for the loose leaf tea. It tastes infinitely better & has much more health-enhancing properties than tea bags.
Regarded as a sacred food by the Incas, quinoa makes a strong case as the best grain available today (Ok, technically it’s a seed but it’s used as a grain). Not only is it gluten-free, it’s also a complete protein, it’s high in several nutrients, it’s a great source of long-lasting energy (GI = 53).
Quinoa serves as a great replacement for rice, risotto, oats and pasta, and preparing quinoa is child’s play: simply boil it for about 15 minutes. I personally like to boil mine in chicken stock & mix it with lentils. If you want more elaborate quinoa recipes, check these out!
Oooh avocados. One of the joys of my life. From salads to sandwiches, their creamy texture just melts in your mouth & makes everything better. I used to shy away from them because of their high-fat content, but I’ve since realised that they contain “good fat” and they’re actually beneficial to our health.
Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that helps lower cholesterol. In one study of people with moderately high cholesterol levels, individuals who ate a diet high in avocados showed clear health improvements. After seven days on the diet that included avocados, they had significant decreases in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, along with an 11% increase in health promoting HDL cholesterol. Avocados also have the cool property of increasing the absorption of nutrients in vegetable they’re consumed with.
Avocados will greatly enhance the taste of any salad and they serve as a great replacement for mayo in a sandwich. The best time to eat them is when they’re “semi-soft”, and a good trick is to let them ripen on the counter and then put them in the fridge once they’re ready.
Spinach is not sexy. It’s not glamourous. But it’s a hell of a food. It’s absolutely packed with nutrients & fibers, and it’s a great ally in any weight-loss program because it’s filling despite having almost no calories.
Over the last year, I’ve been having a spinach salad with almost every meal, and over time I’ve developed what I think is a great recipe.
As a fairly Alpha-Male, I never thought I’d be on the internet teaching people how to make salads but here we go, here it is:
Phil’s Kick Ass Salad
1. Put Desired Quantity of Spinach in a bowl
2. Chop & Add:
Half an avocado
Handful of walnuts
3. Make Homemade dressing
4. Add Dressing
Oh babyyyyy I’m excited for you guys to try this. They say you don’t make friends with salad but… I think the old adage might be proven wrong! :)
Having a fresh salad with every meal is a great habit to get into because not only does it ensure you eat your veggies, but it also provides you with plenty of digestive enzymes. This is important because when we cook foods, we de-activates the enzymes they contain, which makes it harder for our body to digest them. Raw veggies mitigate that and help us avoid the “post-meal energy crash”.
5. Maca Powder
Archelogical evidence shows that maca has been grown in the Peruvian Andes for approximately 2600 years. Legend has it that Incan warriors used to consume it before battle to increase their strength & stamina, but after conquering a city Maca was prohited to protect women from the warriors’ excessive sexual desires.
As you can see, Maca powder’s got quite a bit of gusto to it. Made from root that’s the highest cultivated crop in the world (3000-4000m altitude), Maca is a natural adaptogen (substance with a combination of therapeutic actions of the human body) and according to Dr. Gloria Chacon de Popovici, from the University of San Marcos in Peru, maca ” has a nigh nutritional value providing macro and micro nutrients, including 31 different minerals, to support the cellular structures and functioning in the body.”
Maca has a fairly good taste (hard to describe but i’d say it’s vaguely similar to rice pudding) and can easily be added to a smoothie, a bowl of cereal, some yogurt and even in stews.
4. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are finally gaining in popularity and this is great news for everyone. They’re one of nature’s most balanced food and will certainly improve the health of anyone who consumes them.
I’ve been eating Chia seeds for a while now, but when I recently read the book Born to Run, my motivation to consume them greatly increased. In this book, we discover that the best super-long distance runners in the world (the Tarahumaras, a remote tribe from Mexico) use chia seeds as their secret weapon.
The reason they’re so good is because they offer a perfect blend of protein, fiber, and omega 3′s. The best thing about chia seeds is how easy they are to use. You can throw them in a smoothie, or add them to your cereals, oatmeal, salads or just about any meal. They are tasteless and so small you don’t even notice them.
Pick up a pack for 5$ and start using them, your body will thank you!
3. Coconut Oil
Coconuts are not only delicious, they’re also a phenomenal food and a central part of many people’s diet around the world. While their water is filled with electrolytes and can even be used as replacement for human plasma in case of emergencies, it’s the coconut’s oil that I find most interesting.
Much fanfare has been made about the virtues of olive oil in the past few years, but olive oil is not the best oil in the world. That title belongs to coconut oil. Not only does it have less calories per weight, it’s also fully heat-stable (olive oil gets broken down by heat), it contains lauric acid (a wonderful immune system booster), it’s easily converted into energy by the human body, it increases the absorption of omega 3′s, and it’s also a precursor to an anti-aging hormone called pregnenolone.
But the best part about Coconut oil? It’s been shown to stimulate the thyroid gland and increase our metabolism, which actually makes it a great weight-loss oil. That’s right, eating coconut oil will help you burn more calories and thus lose fat faster.
Coconut oil adds a mild tropical taste to any food you cook it with and it’s a great replacement to butter/margarine as a spread. All in all, coconut oil is awesome and will be a great addition to your diet.
2. Goji Berries
Goji Berries have been a food of choice in China, Mongolia, and Tibet for the last 5000 years. For the last 2500 years, it has even been given the appellation of “superfood” by the Tibeban School of Medicine in Lhassa. In the Chinese province of Niangxi, where most Goji berries are produced, there are more centenarians than anywhere else in China.
Clearly, there something special about these little red berries.
Goji berries, which are also an adaptogen, constitute a complete protein and contain no less than 21 trace minerals, including a hefty dose of brain-nourishing Vitamin B. It’s one of the highest sources of antioxidants in the world and its high content of polysaccharides does wonders for the immune system.
To make things better, goji berries are high in sesquiterpiniods, which have anti-inflammatory effects and have been shown to stimulate our pituitary & pineal glands for greater hormonal response.
Goji Berries can be fairly pricy in some parts of the world, but here’s the secret: you only need to eat a handful of them a day to get their full benefits. You can add them in a trail mix (I do mine with almonds & dried cranberries), add them in a smoothie or a bowl of cereal.
To be honest, I was mildly unimpressed with their taste at first, but they have really grown on me and are now one of my favourite snacks.
1. Raw Cacao
Raw Cacao, the unprocessed chocolate bean, is considered by David Wolfe and many other healthy food experts as the healthiest food in the world.
Its resume is absolutely stunning:
It has the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food known to man. As basis for comparison, it has 20 times more antioxydants than dark chocolate, and about 15 times more than green tea and red wine. It also has the highest concentration of several key nutrients, including iron and magnesium. It possesses strong appetite-suppressant properties which means it a great part of a weight-loss program.
But the best thing about Raw Cacao is that it’s pretty much a super-healthy legal drug. Some of its compounds help our brain produce more “feel-good hormones” because it contains PEA (increases dopamine production), Tryptophan (increases serotonin production), and Anandamide (known as the “Bliss Chemical”- it’s usually released when we are in love).
No wonder Cacao literally means “The Food of Gods” in the Aztec language and used to be more valuable than gold in parts of South America! The Cacao bean is one of the earth’s greatest gifts to us, and it’s greatly unfortunate that 99.9% of the world’s chocolate is produced using high-heat methods that destroy most of its exceptional properties.
In the next 10 years, I predict we will witness the great resurgence of Raw Cacao. Get yours now, you’ll understand why it’s the Food of Gods, and soon you’ll be feeling goooood! :)
Here you have it folks, my list of the top 10 Superfoods in the World. As a quick recap, here it is again:
10. Sweet Potatoes/Yams
9. Matcha Green Tea
5. Maca Powder
4. Chia Seeds
3. Coconut Oil
2. Goji Berries
1. Raw Cacao
Combine these Superfoods with other fresh + unprocessed foods to create your own Feel Good Diet and before long you’ll be feeling great and setting yourself up an energy-filled life.
Good luck and… bon appétit! :)
PS I order all my Superfoods from Vitacost.com, as they have the best prices I’ve found anywhere online and they offer free shipping on order of more than $25. You can get $10 off your first order by using this link: http://www.vitacost.com/