Supercharge Your Paleo Diet With These 7 Superfoods
By MARY CUNNINGHAM
For a diet that's often misconstrued as bacon-centric, devotees of the ancestral health movement seem far more concerned with getting the most nutrition possible from their food choices. (Even if that means putting bacon on the back burner.)
So what are the best food choices for someone wanting to upgrade their diet, Paleo or otherwise?
Dr. Lauren Noel -- Dr. Lo, for those familiar with her podcasts -- has an easy list of some of the best savories to begin incorporating. Her criteria is based on 1) nutrient density (an extreme most amount of nutrient per serving) and 2) a unique nutrient profile (each of the seven foods is dense in different nutrients).
In short, this list represents a mix of nutrients delivered in ways that give you the most nutrient-packed bang for your caloric buck.
Dr. Lo calls it nature's multivitamin because liver stores up vitamins A, K, E, D, copper, zinc and iron. It's great for anemia and those with thyroid issues who can't convert beta-carotene into vitamin A on their own.
Wait, should we be concerned about eating liver because it stores toxins? Dr. Lo says you shouldn't because the liver filters toxins, it doesn't store them. Though take into consideration as you would for any animal product and choose options that come from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals that are exposed to the least amount of hormones or antibiotics.
2. Camu Camu
This Amazonian berry is loaded with vitamin C. Loaded. It has 10 times the amount found in an orange. You could eat 10 oranges or just one teaspoon of camu camu. And you'll skip the 30 grams of fructose that comes with navels!
Beyond vitamin C, camu camu juice has unique properties that have been shown to reduce inflammation and is being studied as a food that could help prevent immune-related diseases.
3. Blue Green Algae
Humans have been consuming blue green algae (BGA) for more than a thousand years. Its health benefits are as real today as they were for the Chinese 1,600 years ago or for the Aztecs in the 14th century. Modern researchers have found BGA to be rich "in essential amino acids, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorous, iron, B-carotene and chlorophyll."
This potent superfood has demonstrated "antiviral, antitumor, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antidiabetic and antibacterial properties" in medical studies. And perhaps best of all: Supplement capsules make this an easy superfood to work into your diet.
A prime example of food as medicine, a nettle plant is packed with nutrition and has been long used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), allergies, arthritis and inflammation.
How to get some nettles in your day? Steep this herbaceous sprig for a tea, simmer with bone broth for soup or blend into a raw, vegetarian pesto. Worried that heating will cause the loss of its nutritional quality? This incredible herb is so nutrient dense that it will still be effective even after heating.
Note: If using a nettle to treat hay fever, work it into your routine a few months before allergy season so that the benefits will be in full effect once allergens run high.
A giant mushroom, reishi is absolutely supercharged with healing benefits. Perhaps its effectiveness over the last 10,000 years is why it's considered a holy, spiritual food. Modern research supports that this plant could be valuable in cancer treatment because it has the ability to reduce tumors. Additional studies have also revealed it as an immune modulator that can reduce both chronic and acute inflammation.
Taken as a tea, tincture or soup, this fungus can be as delicious as it is nourishing. Make a batch for the next flu season.
An oyster produces 10 times as much zinc as any other food. (A trivia note: The next closest? Pumpkin seeds.) This dense concentration of the mineral is great for healthy hair and nails. Oysters also provide a great alternative to over-the-counter cold medicines because zinc is a potent immune booster. And speaking of potent, the jury is still out on oysters as aphrodisiacs, but it couldn't hurt to give 'em a shot and conduct your own research.
7. Bone Marrow/Bone Broth
The minerals and amino acids -- like collagen and elastin -- found in the marrow of the bone may serve as a healing agent for ligament or soft-tissue damage in the human body.
While we produce collagen and elastin naturally, stress and poor diet choices can decrease production, leaving us in need of a boost. This wasn't an issue when the generations before us made food in a slower, more caring way. Their weekly diet easily included the long-simmered broth of animal parts, yielding a densely nutritious liquid or gelatin. Even if it's not yet a part of your health routine, adding a bit of bone broth is easy and delicious.
Consider using this superfood list as a guide for savory, smart ways to support your health.
Readers — Are you currently following a Paleo diet? Do you feel like the diet is helping you reach your health goals? If not, why not? What kinds of “superfoods” do you incorporate into your diet? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Mary Joan Cunningham, founder of ThrivewithMS.com, is on a mission to empower individuals to see their diagnoses differently. A health-and-wellness activist and inspiring public speaker, she’s been interviewed on HuffPost Live, and her tips for releasing fear around personal finances were featured in The Credit Cleanup Book.
Mary works with clients via Skype in transformational one-on-one sessions that integrate mind + body + spirit to harness one’s own unique, innate healing power. Sign up for Mary’s newsletter get her upcoming THRIVE Starter Pack, filled with health and wellness resources.