It may seem like there is a new superfood announced every day. While this is wonderful, there is certainly an overwhelming amount to choose from. Also, some superfoods, for example, many exotic melon varieties, can be quite bulky and take up significant fridge and pantry space.
However, when it comes to superfoods, great things sometimes come in little packages. Check out the following four superfoods: all miniscule in size, and a snap to add to healthy meals and snacks.
Bee pollen is the male seed of a flower blossom, once it has been combined with the digestive enzymes of the bee. The amazing thing about bee pollen is that it is composed of about 40 percent protein – in highly digestible form. This superfood also contains carotenoid and bioflavonoid antioxidants, as well as B-vitamins and vitamins C, D and E. In fact, bee pollen is a rare vegan source of vitamin B12, which is usually derived from meat.
Additionally, bee pollen may help to lower your sensitivity to local allergens, which can aid in lowering allergy symptoms. Add a spoonful to a fruit salad or smoothie, or even mix into a glass of freshly-squeezed juice. Taking bee pollen with fruit can help to cleanse your gut of toxins.
If you can legally get it where you live, hemp powder can offer a nutrition-packed alternative to big name protein powders and shakes, which often come rife with additives, and are frequently based on GMO soy or whey from GMO-fed cows. Hemp seeds come from the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, but unlike marijuana, they do not contain enough THC to produce a “high.”
Hemp seeds are high in digestible protein, and are rich in essential omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. They also contain GLA, an essential fatty acid not found in other seeds. Thanks to the combination of these fatty acids, hemp seeds have potent anti-inflammatory and disease-preventing properties.
If you are buying hemp seeds in the form of a protein powder, make sure the product is organic and contains no chemical additives – buy from a reputable company that you trust. Hemp seed powder can be easily added by the spoonful to smoothies, used to top oatmeal, or just mixed into a cold glass of organic coconut milk.
Like hemp seeds, chia seeds are high in omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, in a balanced ratio, which is important to their health benefits. Not only are omega-3 fatty acids linked to protecting heart and brain health, they have also been associated with easing depression and combating insulin resistance. These little seeds are also high in fiber, protein, calcium and a wealth of antioxidants.
Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds do not have to be ground for their health benefits to be unlocked. Chia seeds can provide an interesting texture to salads, be combined with juices, smoothies, and your favorite gluten-free cereals, or nestle up next to the fresh fruit in your Greek yogurt.
No, not the type you bake with. Nutritional yeast, which is normally grown on beet sugar before it is fermented and dried, is a gluten-free yeast sometimes used as a cheese substitute in vegan dishes. Do not fear the word “yeast” in this case – it does not contain Candida albicans, and does not promote its growth in the body.
Nutritional yeast is high in protein and fiber, and contains a plentiful amount of vitamin B12. Not only can the protein and fiber combo keep you feeling full, it is also important to the health of your cardiovascular system. Vitamin B12, which is hard to get other than from an animal source, is important to producing the myelin insulation which coats the nerves, and helps the body produce red blood cells.
This yeast is also rich in minerals, as well as folic acid, which can help prevent birth defects in pregnant women. To get it onto your meals, sprinkle on top of stews, casseroles, and rice dishes – or on a salad if you wish. The taste is cheese-like, with a nutty quality. Many report that it is an acquired taste, but once you’re hooked, you sprinkle it on everything!
-The Alternative Daily