Every day there are new products being thrown at athletes promising to enhance their performance and strength. From protein powders to meal bars, it can be overwhelming as to what is really good for your body. Many times these products have fillers and ingredients not found in the natural world.
That is why I suggest to friends and clients to check out the health benefits of superfoods, which are widely available to us in many organic health food stores and online.
What Are “Superfoods”?
David Wolfe, organic-superfoods health expert and Co-founder of The Best Day Ever, describes superfoods as both a food and a medicine. “They are the most potent, super-concentrated and nutrient-rich foods on the planet. Superfoods have the ability to increase the vital force and energy of one’s body and are the optimum choice for improving overall heath, boosting the immune system, elevating serotonin production, enhancing sexuality and cleansing and alkalizing the body.”1 These are just some of the incredible benefits of incorporating raw organic superfoods into your diet.
Over the last couple of years, I have found adding these items into my diet has helped my performance with CrossFit training, increased my mental clarity and is a delicious way to add more nutrients to my clean diet.
So, here is a list of my top five favorite superfoods:
1. Raw Chocolate
Raw chocolate is made from raw cocoa beans, which have not been roasted or heated above 115 degrees and are, unrefined and unprocessed. Through this natural state, the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are more available and absorbable by the body.
Raw cacao helps lower the oxidative stress of strenuous activities because of the high levels of magnesium, chromium, B vitamins and antioxidants – thus helping athletes to shorten their recovery time. Cacao also has the highest levels of magnesium than any other food source on the planet!
My favorite raw chocolate company is Chocolatl. All of their products are hand made using fair-trade and organic ingredients.
2. Maca Powder
Maca powder is derived from the maca root plant and plays an important role in increasing your overall energy and vitality. It also helps to reduce and manage your stress levels, improve your quality of sleep, and increase your libido.
Maca aids in this work because it is an adaptogen, which facilitates your body’s ability to balance overall hormonal health. Maca is also a rich source of sterols — steroid-like compounds found in both plants and animals that promote quick regeneration of fatigued muscle tissue and respond to stress.
I personally recommend Sol Raiz Maca.
3. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds provide all your recommended amino acids and fatty acids that allow muscles to work and grow effectively because it is easily absorbed and digested by the body. Hemp seeds are also a great source of chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, fiber, iron, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine and trace minerals.
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils carries great products.
4. Goji Berries
Goji berries are energy-boosting berries that have the richest source of carotenoids of all known foods. They are very high in antioxidants, minerals, and contain 18 amino acids. Goji berries have 500 times more vitamin C per ounce than oranges and are a complete source of protein.
My favorite source for goji berries is Navitas Naturals.
Spirulina is truly the ultimate athletes superfood. It consists of 65% concentrated protein and contains all eight amino acids. It is an extremely high source of chlorphyll, salts, phytonutrients, and enzymes; not to mention rich with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, K, and E. It offers strength and endurance and it is best to consume after workouts for rapid healing effects and balancing blood sugar levels. Spirulina also contains the same amount of iron that you would get from red meat.
You can find these organic products at your local health food store and throughout Whole Foods Markets nationwide and there are many ways to incorporate these superfoods into your diet. You can eat them as a snack, mix with various nuts to make a trail mix, or, my personal favorite is to blend them into a smoothie.
Super Green-Cacao Bean Smoothie
- 1-2 organic banana
- 1 cup organic coconut milk (from a can – not the coconut milk brands that you find in the fridge section.)
- 4 Tbsp Manitoba Harvest organic hemp powder
- 2 Tbsp Sol Raiz organic maca powder
- 4 Tbsp Ojio raw organic cacao powder
- 2 Tsp organic spirulina
- 2 Tsp Big Tree Farms organic coconut palm sugar
- Ice (if you prefer it to be on the cooler side.)
- Handful of Navistas Naturals organic goji berries
Put all of your ingredients into a blender and mix until you reach that delicious smoothie consistency. Poor in a glass and top it off with your goji berries! If you want to increase the amount of protein and fat, add 2 Tbsp of organic almond butter.
This is a great smoothie to enjoy after a workout or share with a friend as an afternoon snack!
1. Wolfe, David Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future Published 2009