3 Trendy Superfoods This Doctor Actually Uses

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Doctor's top superfoods

By Dr. Tiffany Lester, Parsley Health

The health food scene is constantly evolving and there are always new trends to discover. Here are the top 3 superfoods you want to try this year which will support digestion, fight inflammation, and help you feel calmer all without taking any pill.

The term superfood has no official scientific definition. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it’s a food that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) and considered beneficial for one’s health. That means common foods like blueberries and the more exotic foods like acai berry could both be considered superfoods.

While the word superfood has been criticized as mostly a marketing term, it is helpful to identify which foods are more nutrient-dense than others. Focusing on a whole food, plant-based diet is the most important change you can make for long term health. Adding superfoods can enhance a stellar diet but is not a substitute for carb-heavy, sugar-laden foods. Below are the top three superfoods to add to your pantry in 2018.

Top 3 superfoods for 2018

Moringa

Moringa

You may be familiar with other green powders like matcha and spirulina that have superpower qualities when added to your morning smoothie. Moringa tops all of them as a single tablespoon contains a whopping 60% of your daily recommended iron intake. It’s also rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, B2, B6 and C. It looks like a fine, velvety-green powder that is native to India, Pakistan, and Nepal. It has been used for centuries to fight chronic diseases like arthritis, digestive imbalance, diabetes, and heart disease.

Moringa has even been used in early clinical trials for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, and has been shown to balance neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which makes it useful to manage stress and balance mood. Moringa is also rich in antioxidants and compounds that improve thyroid health, which makes it useful for increasing energy, low libido and insomnia.

With impressive nutritional value, moringa is showing up in everything from snack bars to skin oils. I recommend buying it in powder form so that you can add a tablespoon to your morning smoothie, sprinkle on top of avocado toast, or add to hot water for a powerhouse tea.

You can even make an antioxidant face mask that will leave your complexion refreshed and bright. Just combine ½ tbsp organic Manuka honey with a pinch of organic moringa powder, the juice of ½ a lemon and enough water to make a paste. Apply to face and neck, and wash off with warm water after 15 minutes.

Learn more: Our favorite products with moringa

Tiger Nuts

Tiger nuts

Despite the name, this superfood is actually a root vegetable that originates from Africa. They are a small, raisin shaped food that contain 40% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber in just one ounce. This resistant starch fiber helps to keep our digestion moving as it gets of toxins found in our stool. In addition, they contain the highest amount of prebiotics vs any other food on the market. Prebiotics are food for the healthy bacteria in our gut and help maintain a healthy microbiome.

While probiotic benefits have become more well known in recent years with the growing popularity of foods like kombucha and sauerkraut, all types of fiber that we get from plant-based foods play a major role in gut and digestive health.

Tigernuts are an incredibly versatile superfood and can be used in a variety of ways–eaten plain, made into a nut milk, or even nut flour. One of my favorite ways to include tigernuts in my diet is to make a traditional horchata. I blend the tigernut milk with dates, cinnamon, and vanilla bean and then strain through a nut bag. It also tastes great when added to freshly brewed coffee. The flour also makes excellent gluten-free pancakes and cookies.

If you are sensitive to high fiber foods or have IBS, start low and go slow. Eating too much fiber at one time can cause abdominal cramping, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea.

Cacao

Cacao

Chocolate is a go-to treat for many of us when we are stressed or craving a sweet. While the merits of dark vs milk chocolate may be debatable, raw cacao powder is the queen of them all. Consuming cacao in its most unprocessed, natural form ensures you receive all the antioxidant benefits from this tiny bean. Studies have shown it is a tremendous mood booster, and also may reduce your cardiovascular risk and lower blood pressure due to it’s magnesium content.

One study had participants drink a dark chocolate drink for 30 days and split into 3 comparison groups: 500 mg, 250 mg, and 0 mg of polyphenols. The participants who drank the highest dose of cacao had significantly higher rates of happiness and calm compared to placebo.

Cacao powder has become my go-to replacement for coffee most mornings. I blend with hot water, cinnamon, a sprinkle of ashwagandha, and a dollop of coconut butter. It turns into a creamy, sugar-free latte with just the right amount of caffeine.

Remember moderation is still key even when it comes to any superfood. More is not better and I recommend rotating every few days for each of the above. Whether you choose to incorporate one or all of these into your daily diet, your body will thank you for it!

Ready to try even more recipes with some of our favorite superfoods? Get started with our Blueberry Almond Smoothie for breakfast, try a slow-roasted Salmon and Quinoa Bowl for lunch or dinner and make these Tigernut Chocolate Chip Cookies for a sweet treat.

 

BIO: Tiffany Lester, MD, is a functional medicine physician at Parsley Health in San Francisco. She is passionate about healing chronic disease through a comprehensive approach and teaching people how simple, small shifts can have an enormous impact on their health.
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