I first heard about the term “superfoods” while studying nutrition in New York. The first among them is cacao (raw chocolate). David Wolfe, the superfood guru, was one of the teachers in the nutrition school I was attending. He taught us about raw foods and superfoods. At that time he had a book called Naked Chocolate, which is all about raw chocolate. As a chocolate lover, I am overjoyed to know that chocolate can actually be healthy! He was working on his book on superfoods at the time, and this book was eventually published in 2009.
The top three superfoods in his book are goji berries (wolf berries), cacao and maca. Other superfoods he has in his book include: spirulina, marine phytoplankton, coconut, hemp seeds and so on. I would also add flaxseeds and cereal grases (like wheatgrass) to the list, as well as the group of sprouted nuts and seeds too which are very rich in enzymes and nutrients that are extremely bio-available. I guess since the last three have long been recognised as super foods, he did not choose to cover these in his book.
Over the years I have been experimenting with and educating on the use of authentic superfoods in this part of the world. I use them in all my detox and wellness programs and I have been very impressed with the results and how quickly my clients have been able to experience the difference.
While the word “superfood” can be and have been used very loosely for marketing purpose since its first inception, I think real superfoods are:
- foods that are proven to contain higher concentrations of nutrients and greater health benefits than most other foods
- foods that are extremely rich in nutrients including vitamins, minerals, phyto-chemicals (plant chemicals), omega fatty acids & antioxidants
- real foods that have been used by some of the planet’s healthiest peoples from various cultures for thousands of years and have proven their efficacy
- foods that are so nutrient dense that they are like supplements but they are much more easily assimilated by the body then supplement
A few years after David’s book was published, I am seeing more health products claiming to be or containing “superfoods”, and quality has become more varied. Some health products that claim to contain “superfoods” may contain questionable ingredients like refined sugar and pasteurised dairy, or the “superfood” ingredient may make up only a very small portion but it is promoted as the key ingredient. So it’s important for consumer to be aware and understand the true value of the product.
You can expect authentic superfoods and products with these as main ingredients to be priced closer to “supplements” rather than common staple foods like grains and seeds. One good example is cacao (raw chocolate) versus most commercial chocolate. The former has to be produced with slow and old world method in order not to cause high heat that damage nutrients. But then you do not need as much to be satisfied. In fact organic raw cacao can suppress sugar cravings as it contains high amount of chromium. The heat produced in commercial making destroy about 80% of raw cacao’s antioxidants.
And one still needs to eat other foods and cannot live on “superfoods” alone, just as you won’t live on “supplements” alone. For example, sprinkling this spirulina crunch over green salads, dips or congee will super charge your meal.
It has been a really valuable journey as I learn to fine-tune how to incorporate these superfoods as well as chinese super foods and herbs into the urban diet for various people and body constitutions. And my journey will continue!
You can read about the superfoods I have been using here.
My team and I run superfood tasting and educational events regularly. You are very welcome to join us to learn more about this form of delicious and efficient nutrition.