“Superfoods” have seen a surge in popularity over the past few years as people are starting to become more health-aware and seek foods that offer more than just basic nutritional value. While there is no “official” scientific definition, superfoods contain high levels of essential vitamins and minerals and are rich in antioxidants which protect our cells from damage and aid in disease prevention. Work more of these vitamin-packed foods into your diet as part of your healthy weight loss plan and know that you are filling your body with foods that are both beneficial and delicious.
Though they sound exotic (and many can trace their origins to far-flung lands), you don’t have to scale the Himalayas or hike deep into the Amazon to find these special foods.
Here are our 5 favorite superfoods that are hiding in plain sight. These superfoods are available everywhere–though you might have to make an extra stop at a health-focused supermarket.
Superfood 1: Kale
Ditch your iceberg lettuce and throw the romaine right after it. These water-logged greens pale in comparison to the benefits of mighty kale. Packed with fiber and Vitamin K (which builds strong bones and prevents heart disease) this king of superfoods is available in every grocery store and should be a staple of any healthy weight loss plan. So, stop resisting and start finding ways to make kale a regular part of your diet.
How to eat it: Kale is the perfect basis for any salad or green juice.
Superfood 2: Raw cacao
We’re all familiar with cacao when it has been roasted at high temperatures and loaded with sugar. We call this “chocolate” and while it’s a delicious indulgence, the roasting process alters the molecular structure of the raw cacao and strips away most of its nutrients. Pure raw cacao has been shown to protect the nervous system from damage, due to its high levels of resveratrol, a powerful anti-oxidant. Cacao delivers potent vitamins and minerals including magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, zinc and copper. It can also lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.
Note: Raw cacao powder is not the same as Hershey’s cocoa powder, so you’ll likely have to hit the vitamin section of your grocery store or a health food store to find it. Look for the fair-trade logo on whichever brand you buy.
How to eat it: Mix cacao powder into your daily smoothie or use it in place of cocoa powder when making hot chocolate.
Superfood 3: Seaweed
Seaweed is often an overlooked superfood that contains more vitamin C than oranges and possesses anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. High in iodine, iron, and magnesium, seaweed can become part of your regular diet–not just on sushi night. Seaweed is available at most grocery stores—just look in the Asian section. Or, search Google maps for your nearest Asian supermarket, which is probably closer than you realize.
How to eat it: Add brown rice and veggies to your sheet of raw seaweed and wrap it up to make a superfood sandwich!
Superfood 4: Chia seeds
These little seeds are more than simply a novelty to grow “hair” on a shard of pottery. Native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds have been consumed in those regions since ancient times by indigenous people. High in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein and calcium, these small seeds are packed with anti-oxidants and provide sustainable energy.
How to eat them: Sprinkle chia seeds onto oatmeal or salads or add them to your smoothies and shakes.
Superfood 5: Black beans
Black beans might not be sexy, but they sure are healthy. Once cup of black beans provides you with half of your daily fiber requirements and about 30% of your daily protein needs. Black beans are the perfect alternative to harsh, high-fat protein sources like red meat. Integrate black beans into your healthy weight loss plan by going red meat-free for a month and replacing your lunches and dinners with Latin-infused meals that feature black beans in the starring role.
How to eat them: Create a black bean side salad, press into patties for black bean burgers, or add to eggs to make a nutritious breakfast burrito.
Amp up your diet with these easy to find superfoods and see how easy it can be to eat healthfully.
What are your favorite superfoods and your creative ideas for integrating them into your healthy weight loss plan? Share your suggestions below!