Raw Food

Introduction to the Raw Superfoods

If you’re trying to learn more about healthier eating, you have most likely heard of the term superfoods. There is no clear definition as to what makes a certain food a “superfood,” and the term was coined for marketing purposes to influence food trends. The superfood label is given to foods that have high phytonutrient content, which are generally beneficial to health and well-being.

Here are some of the amazing superfoods you can eat raw and are great to add to your raw food meals, juices or smoothies.

1. Almonds

A bowl of almonds

Almonds are common types of nuts that are usually grown in Asia and Africa, and are known for being a rich source of vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium. Generally, all nuts are considered as superfoods because of their high levels of minerals and healthy fats, but almonds contain the most nutrients. Besides the nutrients mentioned above, they also contain copper, niacin, zinc, selenium and folic acid. The folic acid content makes them a great nut to eat during pregnancy. 

Regular consumption of almonds can cause a lot of health benefits because they can help regulate cholesterol and blood pressure, protect you against cancer and diabetes, keep your heart healthy, help with brain development and weight loss. 

You can eat almonds on its own as snack, or mix it with other nuts, seeds and dried to keep it exciting. But best of all, you can use it for making almond milk, which is delicious and healthy. It’s a great milk for people who can’t tolerate dairy.

2. Aloe vera

Aloe vera plant in a small pot

You may be familiar with the benefits of aloe for the skin, but do you know that you can mix them in your morning smoothies or juice? Aloe vera is a succulent plant that benefits digestive health, helps purify blood and liver, and promotes healthy skin via collagen production.

Aloe vera has the ability to keep you looking young and healthy through collagen. Collagen is a critical component in building healthy bone, tendon, ligament and joint tissue. It is also an important substance for skin health. Collagen production tends to reduce as we age, and this is partly why we start to look older as well. But with aloe vera’s ability to kick-start collagen production, your body will once again take on a more youthful appearance. And also, if you have any wounds, cuts, burns, acne or inflamed skin, you can rub the fresh aloe vera gel directly to it. 

This super succulent can also be blended with your morning smoothie. Just scrape off the gel from the outer leaf and mix it to your smoothie. It can also be blended with lemon juice and water, which is great to drink after a workout.               

3. Avocado

A sliced avocado

Avocado is a typical fruit rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Like olive oil, avocado is high in monounsaturated fats. Oleic acid is its most predominant monounsaturated fat, which is linked to reduced inflammation in the body, thus preventing various chronic diseases. 

Eating avocados regularly can reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and even some times of cancer.

Avocado is a fruit, but in many culinary applications, avocados are treated as a vegetable. There are so many ways you can eat avocados – you can eat it as it is, slice it and mix it in a salad, season them with salt and pepper, make it a spread on your toast, turn it into a guacamole, mix it in soups, or add it to your smoothies.  

4. Blueberries

Blueberries are popular all around the world for its delicious taste and superb nutritional benefits. It’s a common superfood because of its high level of antioxidants, which make them a great food for promoting good health. They are also rich in vitamins and soluble fiber, which are also found in many other kinds of berries like strawberries and cranberries. 

The antioxidant capacities of blueberries are known to slow down aging and reduce risk of heart disease, cancers, and other inflammatory conditions. It can also be effective in treating various digestive and immune-related disorders. It helps promote urinary tract health, boost immune system and improve vision. A recent study even found that blueberries can be able to reduce and even reverse mental decline. All these health benefits are great to consider at any age, but especially for older adults.

Blueberries are yummy on their own, so they can be eaten as snacks or desserts. These are also great toppings for breakfasts, desserts, salads, and can be blended in smoothies.

5. Brazil nuts

A cluster of Brazil nuts

As the name suggests, Brazil nuts are wild nuts that are naturally from Brazil. These nuts are noted for their exceptionally high levels of selenium, vitamin E and mono-unsaturated fatty acids that can help lower bad cholesterol. These nuts are also an excellent source of B-complex vitamins, and a whole range of minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron and zinc.

Brazil nuts contain around 10 to 100 mcg of selenium per nut, depending on what area they were grown it. Selenium helps decrease your risk for cancer. A 9-year study presented at the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that those that took 200 mcg of selenium a day had a 50% less chance of dying from cancer than those that did not take selenium supplements. So, eating just a few Brazil nuts a day can easily cut your cancer risk.

As with other nuts, Brazil nuts are great to eat on their own or mixed with other nuts, seeds and fruits. You can also use them to make nut milk.

6. Coconut oil

Coconut oil and a coconut

Coconut oils is an edible oil extracted from either the kernel or meat of mature coconuts. It contains high levels of lauric acid, a substance that is known to help prevent both high cholesterol and high blood pressure. This makes it an ideal food to help prevent heart disease. It also has anti-microbial properties that makes it a good digestive aid. It is able to keep down bacteria, fungi and parasites that can cause indigestion. It also helps improve digestions and enhance the immune system.

This oil is also good for the skin and hair. It’s a great moisturizer and a superb massage oil for the skin. It also provides a great natural nutrition for hair.

You can use coconut oil in many different ways, from eating it raw to using it in cooking instead of other cooking oils. You can also rub it onto your skin and also your hair. If the oil has solidified, then just leave it in a warm place and it will quickly melt.

7. Flax seeds

Flax seeds on a bowl

Flax seeds come from the flax plant and are very rich in essential Omega-3 fatty acids. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, and are a great source of lignans, which have antioxidant qualities. The nutrients and antioxidants you can receive from flax seeds can help fight heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Omega-3 oils are found mainly in oily fish, and if you’re a vegan, vegetarian or looking to eat raw food, flax seeds are your next best Omega-3 source.

You can try the flax seed oil to get your daily dose of Omega 3. Flax seeds can be used to make crackers. You can grind them in a coffee grinder and add them to your smoothies.

8. Goji berries

Goji berries

Also called wolfberries, Goji berries are small and soft red berries popular in Chinese medicine. These berries are exceptionally nutritious because they contain a high level of antioxidants, a range of phytonutrients, 6 vitamins, 18 amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, and many trace and essential minerals.

These berries pack all the essential amino acids and minerals like iron, copper, zinc, selenium, calcium, germanium and phosphorous. When compared in weight, Goji berries contain 500 times the amount of vitamin C than oranges.

As with other dried fruits, they can be eaten on their own or mixed with other dried fruits, nuts and seeds. If you want to use them in your smoothies, then soak them for a couple of hours until they are soft. This will ensure that they blend more easily.

9. Green Tea

A cup of green tea

Originating from China, green tea is a lightly caffeinated beverage made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis plant. It is commonly drank by people who want to lose weight, because green tea raises the metabolism to help burn more fat. It also suppresses the appetite. 

Green tea is used as medicine in China and in other parts of Asia for thousands of years. It is processed in a different way to black tea, which means it has higher amounts of antioxidants and polyphenols. It can help control blood sugar and bad cholesterol levels, destroy bacteria and viruses, reduce risk of high blood pressure and prevent inflammatory diseases. It’s also claimed to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Green tea is best consumed as a tea. It’s also available in capsule and powder form, which means it can be taken as a supplement. 

10. Hemp seeds

A bowl of hemp seeds

Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant and are an excellent source of protein and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They contain all 9 essential amino acids and are also an excellent source of Omega-3 and Omega 6-fatty acids. Most experts agree that the optimum ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 ranges from 1:1 to 4:1. Hemp seeds are the only seeds that have this perfect balance of these oils.

These super seeds are also rich in Vitamin E, can increase energy, lower bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improve immunity levels and even your skin condition. They also help your muscles recover after an exercise.

Hemp seeds can be eaten in the same way as other seeds, such as sesame. They are also used by many people in the raw food movement to make hemp milk. The easiest way to make this is to use a milk maker, such as the Soyabella Soya Milk Maker. As well as making soya milk, this machine will also make raw milk from nuts and seeds.

11. Kale and other leafy greens

A bowl of kale

Kale lives up to the hype as a superfood, but so do dark leafy green vegetables like collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens and cabbages. These are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, K as well as fiber, calcium and other nutrients like folate, zinc, magnesium and iron.

Leafy green vegetables contain high levels of anti-inflammatory compounds that have the potential to reduce risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The carotenoids in leafy greens can also help protect against cancers.

A lot of these leafy greens are not so enjoyable to eat plain and raw, but they are great to add in your favorite salads, smoothies, soups, stir-fries and curries.

12. Mesquite meal

Mesquite meal is produced by grinding dried pods from the mesquite tree. It’s a gluten-free, low-glycemic flour, so it’s great for those with gluten problems and diabetes.

Mesquite meal was a staple food for Native American Indians, who used it to make soups, drinks, porridge and cakes. Because mesquite is a low-glycemic food, it is great for keeping your blood sugar balanced.  It was only after mesquite was replaced with white wheat flour that Native American Indians started to develop diabetes. This disease was unheard of while they were eating mesquite.

It is naturally sweet, so you can make dehydrated raw cakes and bread without sugar using this. You can also use it as a substitute to wheat flour if you want to bake.

13. Olive oil

Olive oil is a staple in Mediterranean diet. It’s oil extracted from the fruit of olive trees. It has high levels of monounsaturated fat, antioxidants, vitamins E and K.

Regularly including olive oil in your diet helps reduce chronic inflammation, which reduces risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. It can also help prevent stroke and weight gain. It can also help protect against cellular damage.

Olive oil is usually added to green salads. You can drizzle it over vegetables, or use it instead of butter and margarine as dip for bread. 

14. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Basing on its name, there’s no need to explain where you can get pumpkin seeds. It’s an alkaline food that has high levels of zinc and magnesium.

Pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory effects. It also protects against osteoporosis, promote prostate health, used as treatment for tapeworms and lower bad cholesterol levels.

They are great to eat on their own, when they are dried out, and is filling as a snack because it is high in calories. They are also great to eat with some dried fruits and nuts.

15. Sea vegetables

Seaweed salad with avocado slices as toppings

Sea vegetables are simply plants that grow in the sea. These are nutrient-rich vegetables commonly consumed in Asian cuisine, but is gaining popularity around the world. Sea vegetables have large amounts of chlorophyll, iodine, fiber, vitamin K, folate and mineral contents like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine and selenium.

The sea contains over 90 types of minerals, and it is this abundance that makes sea vegetable so good for your health. These ocean veggies are a great source of unique bioactive compounds that are not typically present in land vegetables. Some of these compounds can help reduce risk of cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Sea vegetables can be used in salads, soups and other dishes. But be aware that they are very salty, so don’t eat too many of them, as excess salt can cause high blood pressure in susceptible individuals.  

 

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