Calorie-sparse and nutrient-dense, superfoods are a special category of foods found in nature that live up to their namesake by delivering an astonishing variety of health benefits.
What are the best superfoods for energy?
If you’re looking for an energy boost, here are 20 superfoods you should work into your diet:
Researchers have identified more than a dozen flavonoid compounds in spinach that have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. This bright, vibrant leafy green is also extremely rich in antioxidants — especially when fresh, steamed or quickly boiled.
2. Acai Berries
Hailed as “nature’s energy food,” the acai berry is harvested in the rainforests of Brazil and tastes like a vibrant blend of berries and chocolate. It’s chock-full of amino acids, dietary fibre, essential fatty acids, as well as antioxidants.
The deep-blue hue of the blueberry is a by-product of flavonoids, natural compounds that protect cells and blood vessels from the damaging effects of oxidation and inflammation. The high water content of blueberries also promotes skin hydration.
Beans are a low-fat source of protein that deliver a high dose of fibre, B vitamins, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium and phytonutrients. Regular bean intake also increases levels of the fatty acid buyrate, which has been shown to protect against cancer growth.
Broccoli is the only cruciferous veggie that delivers a high amount of sulforaphane, a strong compound that boosts the body’s protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals.
Widely considered the “king of nuts,” walnuts are rich in fibre, B vitamins and magnesium, and one of the best plant sources of protein. They also contain much higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut.
7. Green Tea
Green tea is rich in catechin polyphenols — powerful antioxidants that inhibit the growth of cancer cells and protect against the DNA damage caused by ultraviolet light. Its cancer-preventing properties are owed in large part to the way it’s processed. While the leaves of black tea are fermented, green tea is steamed — a process that preserves its antioxidants.
8. Wheat Grass
The sprouted grass of the wheat seed normalizes thyroid gland function to stimulate the body’s metabolism, which helps promote healthy digestion and weight loss.
A cultivated micro-algae that has been consumed for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Africa, spirulina is one of the highest protein sources on earth, with 70% complete protein.
10. Goji Berries
Goji berries boast more iron than spinach and more vitamin C than any other fruit in the world. With 18 amino acids, they are also considered complete proteins.
11. Raw Cacao
Raw cacao beans contain what is possibly the world’s most concentrated source of antioxidants found in any food. They’re also high in iron and an extremely rich source of magnesium.
12. Coconut Oil
An excellent source of instant energy, coconut oil’s natural fat is of the medium-chain fatty acid variety. These types of fat are sent directly to the liver for conversion into energy (as opposed to other saturated fats, which are stored in the body’s cells). Coconut oil is also a revered anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent.
13. Bee Pollen
Often hailed as Mother Nature’s most complete food, bee pollen contains five to seven times more protein than beef, all eight essential amino acids, more than 12 vitamins, almost 30 minerals and a wide variety of enzymes and co-enzymes.
14. Aloe Vera
A perennial succulent that grows primarily in tropical and sub-tropical areas, aloe vera has 75 healing compounds, including natural steroids, antibiotic agents, amino acids, minerals and enzymes. It has long been used to moisturize skin, heal burns and cuts, and treat acne and eczema.
Ginseng is an ancient healing herb that promotes regeneration from stress and fatigue with a natural, caffeine-free boost of energy. It’s also rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and other essential components.
With the broadest known spectrum of antimicrobial substances, garlic is the most widely used medicinal plant in history. In fact, studies have shown this flavour-rich superfood to be a more powerful antibiotic than tetracycline and penicillin.
A herbaceous plant native to Peru’s Central Highlands, maca is a rich source of iron, iodine, manganese and zinc — nutrients that strengthen cells and increase energy levels. Maca is also prized as an adaptogen, a herb that helps enhance the immune system by decreasing cellular sensitivity to stress.
Once considered more precious than gold, cinnamon is one of the world’s oldest known spices. The insulin-like effects of its polyphenols (natural substances found in plants) are believed to lower blood sugar.
Viewed as a sacred food by the Incas, quinoa is a gluten-free “supergrain” that is very low in saturated fat and high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc. It’s also considered a complete protein as it contains all the amino acids needed for tissue development.
20. Pumpkin Seeds
Also known as “pepitas,” pumpkin seeds are among the most nutritious, flavourful and versatile seeds around. This tasty superfood delivers a healthy dose of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and a high concentration phytosterols — a naturally occurring compound prized for its cholesterol-lowering effects.
So there you have it, some of the best superfoods for energy boosts. Have any you’d add to the list?