Our favorite Ayurvedic practitioner, Deacon Carpenter, is taking your nutrition questions and answering them every Wednesday. Today is he explains superfoods, read on:
For many of us, when we hear the term ‘superfood’, we automatically think of exotic foods, like goji berries or cacao nibs from far-flung locations which promise super health and nutrition – all with an air of elitism.
Although the idea of eating exotic ‘superfoods’ is quite attractive to many of us, the cost is higher than domestic foods, and there is a larger carbon footprint. Believe it or not, you can actually find ‘superfoods’ which have been grown right here in the US.
Let’s start off with our beloved spinach. Spinach is an anti inflammatory, it’s been suggested that it can prevent certain types of cancer (specifically stomach and prostate). It's loaded with calcium and vitamin K, so it helps build strong bones and muscle tone. I recommend steaming a healthy portion of spinach and mixing it with a good extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt after a run. It’s amazing how quickly your body can recover! This leafy green is packed with the following nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Foliate, Manganese, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Dietary fiber, Copper, Selenium, Niacin, Omega-3 fatty acids & Protein
Let’s keep it green, and move onto another superfood: broccoli. It too has been determined to prevent colon, breast and prostate cancer; it’s an anti-inflammatory, it helps the body purge toxins as it’s a powerful anti-oxidant, it supports cardiovascular function and helps maintain clear skin. I used to call them little trees when I was a boy, but you can’t deny that broccoli can rock your world with these nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K Magnesium, Foliate, Manganese, Iron, Calcium, Selenium, Zinc & Phosphorus.
For those of us with a sweet tooth, I recommend blueberries. They can be found in many nutrition bars in some variation, but fresh and in season blueberries pack the biggest punch. We all know that they are an amazing anti-oxidant, but blueberries can also lower triglycerides, raise HDL (good cholesterol), improve memory, support eye health and, because of their high content of anti-oxidants, they have been studied as a way to prevent certain types of cancer. Blueberries also contain Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Manganese, Iron, Calcium & Dietary Fiber.
Lastly, there’s the humble yet delicious red table grape. I live in Sonoma County, California, so between the Napa Valley and Sonoma County we produce more wine grapes than we know what to do with. Ok, we know what to do with them, but did you know that the red table grape has been shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack and heart disease, can reduce your chance of a stroke and getting colorectal and breast cancer, and prevent you from getting Alzheimer’s disease? They are packed with Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K & Manganese.
In Ayurveda, we believe in eating seasonally, which also means eating locally. If you can, visit your local farmers market or farmers coop. I personally love connecting with the local farmers in my area, mostly because we are using several local ingredients for our line of Nutrition bars.
You can find your local farmers market at LocalHarvest - or by downloading the free Itunes app, Farmers Market Finder.
Deacon founded Daily Veda after working in Global Advertising for 16 yrs. He practices yoga, runs and promotes healthy living through natural eating and Ayurvedic medicine. His Veda Bars are AMAZING. Best tasting bar ever and you can pronounce all the ingredients! He’s a wealth of knowledge and fun.