HJ: Eating a handful of superfoods is like eating pounds of regular food. They literally have extraordinary amounts of nutrition and unique and rare medicinal substances highly concentrated so that a small serving can supercharge your health and wellness. Adding them into your diet regularly can and often does lead to substantial improvements in happiness and health.
10 Amazing Superfoods – Harnessing Nature’s Healing Potential
By Maxwell Honey
Since time immemorial, human beings have been experimenting with what we eat. We have discovered, consumed, and created countless foods and substances – some of which taste amazing, some that make us feel invincible, and some that even induce profound and revelatory visions! – all in the name of trying to figure out who we are, how to live longer, and how to feel the best ever.
But something that is just now starting to be understood scientifically is that: a culture is what it eats – and food really does make us who we are!!
Via the internet, we now have access to thousands of years of indigenous knowledge in regards to the best and worst foods man has ever eaten – and today, the ones that pack serious nutritional power and medicinal qualities are now often referred to as ‘superfoods’. By choosing to learn about and consume only the healthiest foods on the planet, and understanding the reasons why we want to consume them, we have an unprecedented ability to support our bodies and consciously boost the evolutionary thrust of humankind via our diets!
So.. to start things off, here’s a list of 10 absolutely amazing superfoods that – along with just being superbly nutritious – will also start you on your path towards becoming a truly exemplary human being.
10 Amazing Superfoods
10. Pine Pollen
Pine Pollen has been used as a medicine since the beginning of time. It is a truly super substance, and is now beginning to get a lot of attention in the health food community; very few substances on Earth have as many positive benefits as Pine Pollen.
Pine pollen is powerful tonic, which means it can be used for any length of time without becoming toxic to the body. It is also an androgen – containing both testosterone and DHEA- and is amazingly effective at balancing the ratio of androgens to estrogen, making it appropriate for both men and women. There are only a handful of substances in nature that naturally raise testosterone levels – and pine pollen is one of them! It is also a complete protein – containing all essential amino acids – as well as a complete nutritive, which means it contains a vast array of vitamins andminerals.
For thousands of years Pine Pollen has been used successfully by people from all different parts of the world to elevate libido, increase vitality, slow the aging process, boost energy levels, maintain mental integrity, and even fight against breast and prostate cancer! It can be be used externally to treat conditions like eczema, rashes, and acne; it also contains Phenylalanine, which stimulates dopamine production in the brain, and is an L-dopa precursor (more on L-dopa to come) – which itself is now being used widely to treat depression and other mental disorders, and is now widely available in supplement form.
The depth of benefits Pine Pollen provides are honestly to vast to list – more benefits are being discovered and researched everyday. Although Pine Pollen has proven itself throughout history, the power of this whole food tonic is just now starting to go mainstream – and the results for many people are staggering! One thing is for sure: if health, longevity and happiness are goals in your life, Pine Pollen would certainly be a great place to start.
Cordyceps are a mycellium fungi that grow at very high elevations throughout China. It looks a bit strange – sometimes like a caterpillar, other times like a piece of grass – and is often used to treat immune deficiencies, boost energy, increase endurance, and improve chronic fatigue syndrome. More recently, it has received a lot of attention for apparently improving oxygen utilization in the body – which has been great news for endurance athletes!
It is incredibly difficult to harvest, and this is why traditionally it was very expensive to buy. However today, there are new methods of growing and harvesting Cordyceps that are more sustainable and much less difficult.
Cordyceps renowned ability to improve cardiovascular performance in endurance athletes began many years ago when it was used extensively by long distance runners in rural China. In Traditional Chinese medicine it has been, and still is, one of the most sought after super food medicines around. Cordyceps have been shown to increase oxygen uptake, boost immune function, improve digestion, raise testosterone levels – and again, for you athletes out there, this little fungus is now being used extensively to help slow down the onset of exercise induced fatigue while improving stamina, by increasing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) levels in the body (ATP is essentially the energy currency for the entire body). Not too shabby yeah?
If that weren’t enough, Cordyceps has also been used to treat kidney disorders, sexual dysfunction issues, heart and blood related ailments, anemia, high cholesterol levels, even liver disorders such as Hepatitis B.
Today in the United States, you can buy Cordyceps in many different forms – from whole extracts in capsule form, to powders, to liquid tinctures. Traditionally the whole fungus was consumed, as it is was believed that consuming the entire fungus was the best way to get all the beneficial compounds into your system in the right balancing ratios. Opinions vary on this, and the jury is still out on whether or not this is still the case, but many people still choose to use the entire fungus, as this is considered to be the true, holistic way.
Regardless of how you choose to take it, Cordyceps remains a profoundly powerful superfood that will definitely aid you in your quest towards becoming truly superhuman. Just give it a try! You won’t regret it.
8. Sacha Inchi Seeds
Very recently, Sacha Inchi Seeds (*see first image, above) have been re-popularized by the Vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier as an absolute must for any serious health nut (no pun intended). They are touted as being the absolute best source of Omega 3 fatty acids on the planet — with over 7000mg of heart-healthy Omega 3’s per one ounce serving — which is vastly higher than Chia seeds, salmon, or algae oil. Truly awesome.
Omega 3’s are important for more reasons than we can get into here – but if there is anything to walk away with about Omega 3’s, it’s this: they keep your body flexible and un-inflamed, your mind sharp and your brain healthy – and most importantly – they keep your spirit soaring! Without adequate daily Omega 3 intake we quickly become sad and depressed – it’s as simple as that. And so it’s very important that we start to increase and then balance our intake of Omega 3’s, as much as we can, and as soon as possible.
Unfortunately today, Omega 6 fatty acids are still the most abundantly consumed fatty acids all around the world. This is because most cooked foods are cooked in oils that are very high in Omega 6, and very low in Omega 3’s – and so unless you’ve been living a very healthy existence for most of your life, you are likely dealing with some degree of Omega 3 deficiency. To balance this deficiency, we have to start by increasing our intake of Omega 3’s daily, while also decreasing our intake of Omega 6 fatty acids – and supplementing Sachi Inchi Seeds into your diet is perhaps the best and healthiest way to do just that!
In addition to being am amazing source of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, Sacha Inchi contain about 29 mg of the amino acid tryptophan per serving – much higher than any animal source. Tryptophan is essential for promoting a clam and positive mood, as well as helping one to sleep soundly. These amazing seeds are also very high in antioxidants, fiber, and are an excellent source of quality protein.
Given all these amazing attributes, it’s difficult to understand why superfoods like Sacha Inchi are not being talked about more. Hopefully after reading this however, you’ll not only go out and try them out for yourself, but maybe even start spreading the word and sharing them with your friends!
Man, what a healthier world it would be…!
Dulse is pretty much an all around rockstar in the superfood game. It is a sea vegetable that has been used for thousands of years by many different cultures throughout East Asia, and is most widely utilized today in Japanese cuisine – in dishes ranging from soups, to salads, to sushi. Although it may not sound or look all that appealing, the vast benefits of eating Dulse are by far reason enough to begin adjusting your palate!
Dulse is incredibly high in vitamins and minerals – specifically Vitamins B6, B12,A, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Manganese. It helps to heal poor digestion, cleanses the body of heavy metals, is high in protein and fiber, supports healthy brain function, and is incredibly high in Iodine. (Iodine is paramount for healthy thyroid function, and is even being made into supplements now to help people with hyperthyroidism). Dulse is also a powerful liver detoxifier, healing and enhancing the liver’s ability to deal with stress of all kinds, while increasing its ability to detox the body.
Supplementing Dulse into your diet is not difficult – there are literally thousands of awesome recipes that utilize Dulse as a tasty additive. When dried, Dulse is quite salty, so it can easily be used in soups and salads to increase flavor. Dulse can also be sprinkled on basically any cooked dish instead of table salt, making it an ideal alternative for people looking to either reduce their salt intake, or transition to a healthier type of salt.
The Japanese are renowned for their long life spans and lack of debilitating diseases – and this has been directly linked to their continued use of seafoods and sea vegetables in their diet. In addition to adding Dulse to your diet, you can also find Dulse supplements, and it is often included in many green superfood powders. Therefore, if you’re looking for a way to get the benefits of Dulse without having to adjust to the taste, there are plenty of options out there for you.
NOTE: Due to the possible radiation contamination of much of the Pacific Ocean after the nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima plant in Japan – as well as the concentration of heavy metals and other toxins in ocean fish and seaweeds due to other pollution – be sure to seek out only organic sources of Dulse and other seaweeds. There are organic options available – Eden Foods and Maine Cost products are great sources to start from. By choosing organic you will get all the amazing benefits of ocean seaweeds, without any possibility of contaminating your own health, so make the safe choice.
Best known in Ayruvedic medicine as “Kapikachu”, Macuna is nourishing to all three Dosha types. In Indian medicine this essentially means it is balancing to all facets of the body/mind, and can be used by most people – a trait only a few other herbs and adaptogens possess (Ginseng is also nourishing to all three Doshas). Macuna is truly multifaceted in its medical uses. It is often used to treat fertility issues in men, libido issues in both men and women, to build muscle in weak individuals, and to treat depression, Parkinson’s, and other brain disorders.
Macuna’s high L-dopa content is part of what makes it so extraordinary. As stated earlier, L-dopa is a direct pre-cursor to dopamine, which is an essential neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood and balancing hormone levels, keeping the body/mind in balance and equilibrium. In addition, Macuna also contains trace amounts of the chemicals DMT, 5-meo-DMT, 5HT (serotonin), nicotine, and bufotenin – all of which have mind altering effects, and which contribute to Macuna’s anti-depressant activity. Some people say after taking Macuna for a period of time, that all of the grayness and boredom that used to plague their day-to-day life seemed to just fall away. Some even go so far as to say that Macuna gave them a second chance at life!
The real promise of Macuna is that it reportedly has an astounding ability to make life colorful again – by regulating depressive feelings, mildly heightening the senses, balancing brain chemistry, and increasing interest in other people and the environment. Furthermore, when mixed alchemically with other foods – such as Cacao – Macunas effects are not only compounded, but it also helps to mitigate the overstimulating effects that substances like Cacao have on some individuals – which basically makes the Macuna/Cacao combination a superbly balanced elixir treat!
So if you’re looking for an all-around awesome superfood, you really need look no further than Macuna. A powerful adaptogen, aphrodisiac and anti-depressant, this herb was truly made for the gods – which is really just another way of saying that it was made for you!
5. Moringa Oleifera
Tree of life! The mystical miracle tree! These are just a couple of the names people have used to refer to this amazing superfood, more commonly known as Moringa Oleifera – or just Moringa.
Moringa is a super-leaf that touts an incredibly vast and impressive nutritional profile. It contains 92 nutrients, 46 antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatories, 18 amino acids, and 9 essential amino acids. It contains 125% daily value of Calcium, 225% daily value of vitamin A precursors (which means it basically blows carrots out of the water), 3X more potassium than bananas, and 7X the amount of vitamin C of oranges. Sometimes, the simplest looking foods are actually nature’s greatest heroes.
But what really makes Moringa so profound is its uncanny ability to boost energy levels (which isn’t hard to understand, given everything that’s in it). Many people are starting to replace their morning cup of joe with Moringa tea – yes, it’s that powerful – because they’re realizing that the over-stimulating nature of coffee is not ultimately the best thing for the body. The energy you get from Morninga lasts much longer, there’s no crash, and it doesn’t drain your adrenal glands – it’s the best of all worlds!
In addition to increasing physical energy, Moringa also helps with digestion, immune system function, mood and emotional balance, blood pressure, stomach ulcers, workout recovery, inflammation… again, there are so many benefits to taking Moringa that it really is impossible to list them all here! And really, if you’re not convinced yet, well then, perhaps this just isn’t your cup of tea!
Moringa can be taken in a number of ways, but the most popular are to either make a tea with the leaves, ingest the oil, or take it in powdered form. And while each method offers some benefits that the others do not (something you can experiment with), no matter how you decide to take Moringa, you will certainly not be disappointed. More than likely, you will soon find yourself preaching the word of the magical, mystical Tree of Life to everyone you meet!
The discovery of Shilajit in modern times is almost as awesome as the substance itself. Back in the 1860’s, some British explorers who were hiking in the himalayan mountains came upon a group of monkeys who were eating something gooey and strange that seemed to be oozing out from the rocks. After some research, it was soon discovered that these particular monkeys were aging much slower than others in the region – monkeys who were not consuming this substance each day. Coincidence? They didn’t think so… and they were right!
So what is this weird oozing substance exactly? Shilajit. It is basically very old plant life that has been concentrated and condensed under the perfect climactic conditions over hundreds of years, and has since turned into a thick mineral pitch, full of beneficial substances such as fulvic acid and ionic minerals. These minerals are said be absorbed on a cellular level (which is not the case with most foods), and this makes Shilajit the ideal anti-aging substance. The yogis of India say that Shilajit will make the human body like a rock, allowing it to further withstand the natural decay and destruction that usually accompanies the aging process.
In addition, Shilajit is believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac in Indian culture, and is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine to treat inflammation conditions such as arthritis, to cure depression, increase immunity, and boost brain function and metabolism. It is the perfect substance to pair along with other foods and herbs to further boost their bioavailability and e!ffectiveness- basically a superfood forsuperfoods!
All this said, it is very important if you areinterested in supplementing Shilajit into your diet, that you seek out authentic and pure sources. lotusbloomingherbs.com is a good place to start, as long as you have some money in the bank. There are other quality brands out there as well, just make sure you read lots of reviews and do some research before you make any purchases, because unfortunately there are some fakers out there… and you definitely want the real stuff.
The Baobab fruit (from the Baobab tree) has been used for thousands of years in Africa to treat a variety of diseases and ailments – it possesses powerful nutritional benefits that are so astounding, this superfood ranks in as one the most sought after in the entire world.
What makes Baobab so powerful is it’s incredibly high vitamin C content; a 100 gram serving of Baobab pulp contains almost 500 milligrams of vitamin C – nearly 10 times the amount in oranges. This places Baobab in a rare group of ‘super fruits’, for there are only a handful of fruits in the world containing Vitamin C at that level.
A note on Vitamin C…
The difference between naturally occurring Vitamin C and ascorbic acid is profound – it’s truly like day and night. Consider this quote: a vitamin is “a working process consisting of the nutrient, enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, and trace mineral activators” (Royal Lee “What Is a Vitamin?” Applied Trophology, August 1956).
Without the entire nutrient profile – that is, the whole food and everything that is in it – Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) does not contain the necessary counterparts to make it a truly effective and bioavailable medicine. By taking Vitamin C out of nature and into a lab, we destroy most of what makes Vitamin C beneficial, which is the complex relationship between a wide variety of contributing nutritional factors. Take away the relationship and the mutual support of the enzymes, antioxidants, and minerals that assist Vitamin C in being so effective, and your basically left with a hollow shell. This does not mean that there is no benefit to taking ascorbic acid, because there is. But comparatively speaking, natural vitamin C sources are vastly more effective for a wide range of diseases, disorders, and deficiencies.
In addition to it’s high Vitamin C content, Baobab has been shown to help overweight or obese people to reduce weight, by keeping insulin levels under control. This is due to its ability to balance starch/sugar digestion, and modulate glycemic response. It has been shown to support healthy skin due to it’s unusually high level of key minerals and antioxidants – such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. And finally, it has shown great potential as a treatment for heart disease and liver detoxification.
Again, the nutritional profile of Baobab works synergistically to create balance and health on a multitude of levels. Each mineral, coenzyme and hepato-protective property must be present in order for the food to do its best work, and you cannot divorce even one property from the rest without drastically reducing the quality of Baobab’s nutritional potential. This goes for all foods, but is especially important with superfoods, if indeed we are interested in becoming the best human beings ever!
Superfoods are the true powerhouses of nature’s healing potential, and Baobab is the perfect reminder of that fact. If you are looking to try this awesome superfood for yourself, there are several online retailers offering organic Baobab powder at reasonable prices.
2. Gynostemma (or Jiaogulan)
Gynostemma – or Jiaogulan in Chinese – is quite simply the best of the best when it comes to adaptogenic herbs. Sometimes referred to as southern Ginseng, Gynostemma is an amazingly diverse herb, and its applications (like many super foods on this list) are seemingly limitless! It is neither a stimulant nor a sedative, but rather promotes a balanced sense of invigoration and calmness. It has anti-aging effects, supports digestion, and is superbly powerful for building the immune system. It’s also widely known throughout China to induce a “spirit lifting” effect – enhancing ones mood, while also making one more social.
A true adaptogen, this herbal treasure has a stress modulating quality which keeps the neurological, immunological, metabolic, endocrine, and respiratory systems functioning at the highest level. There is no age at which one cannot safely consume Gynostemma, which makes it the ideal herb for anyone generally looking to improve their quality of life, throughout their life.
The ability of Gynostemma to be both invigorating and calming has to do with its effect on the central nervous system. Japanese scientists have recently done numerous studies with Gynostemma and have concluded that it has a double-directional and regulating effect on the CNS (a fancy way of saying that it is awesome at keeping the body in equilibrium).
The ingredients that make this herb so powerful are generally known as saponins, and in Gynostemma they are called gypenosides. There are over 100 active gypenosides in Gynostemma, and these are what give it its amazing healing and adaptogenic effects. There have been studies to suggest that these compounds may also be good for the heart, and that it even helps athletes, as well as underweight individuals, to build and maintain healthy muscle mass.
In order to get the most out of this herb and receive all of the beneficial gypenosides, you would do well to either buy the leaves yourself and make a tea – or my personal favorite – go out and try Ron Teeguardens Spring Dragon Tea from Dragon Herbs. Proclaimed to be “healthiest tea on earth”, it not only boasts Gynostemma as the main ingredient, this tea also contains 5 other tonic herbs – Schizandra fruit, Goji Berries, Eleuthero Root, Astragalus Root and Lou Han Guo – all of which have healing properties of their own.
King of the medicinal mushrooms! Mushroom of immortality! A gift from God! These are just a few of the titles given to the amazing superfood commonly referred to as Chaga. The most nutritionally dense of all tree growths, Chaga mushroom has developed has become the masterful king of the forest over thousands of years of evolution. It concentrates natural compounds for its own protection in harsh climates (which is precisely what makes it such a powerful medicine) as well as to nurture and protect the tree it is attached to. There is truly nothing in the world like Chaga mushroom.
Tree’s can live a very long time – much longer than herbs or other plants. Chaga essentially takes the life giving properties of trees and concentrates them in itself, while also helping to heal the tree at the same time – it’s a symbiotic relationship. And so, by eating Chaga mushrooms, you are literally absorbing the energy and nutritional compounds of the longest living beings on Earth! What else do you need to know?!
Well, it actually gets a lot cooler. Chaga contains numerous B vitamins, flavonoids, phenols, minerals, enzymes, as well as SOD (superoxide dismutase) and phenolic compounds which are known as chromogenic complex; this complex is highly protective against all tissues in the human body, and is a complex only found in Chaga mushrooms. It is anti-inflammatory, anti- parasitic, anti-fungal, anti-tumor, and anti-allergenic, it’s a powerful blood sugar balancer and blood purifier, it has immunomodulating properties, it improves circulation, helps purify the liver, is cardio- protective… and the list just goes on and on!
But the real champion of Chaga mushroom lies in in its SOD content. Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme with great potency and the ability to halt oxidation – specifically the toxicity of a free radical known as singlet oxygen. Singlet oxidation is responsible for damaging and destroying tissues in the body, and is one of the main contributors to aging; SOD is able to halt this free radical and slow down the aging process, making people look, think, and feel younger again! It is also Chaga’s incredibly high SOD content which accounts for most of it’s historical powers. In addition, Chaga boasts one of the highest antioxidant contents of any food on Earth, and is already being used in a variety of anticancer protocols around the world for its uncanny affinity for fighting melanomas.
Russian scientists invented the term ‘adaptogen’ in reference to a class of tonics, herbs and mushrooms with incredibly beneficial properties. Of all the adaptogens they studied, Chaga was found to be the most beneficial across all spectrums. Chaga is backed up by thousands of scientific studies, many of which were first done in Russia, and which are still being conducted today in order to find out what else Chaga might be able to do for humanity. Chaga’s use in anti-cancer protocols has already been shown many times – now the word just needs to get out!!
When sold, Chaga comes in many different forms, each of which offers its own unique benefits (There’s a lot to go into on this topic so if you’d like to know more about how to prepare Chaga, David Wolfe’s amazing book ‘Chaga’ is highly recommended and the absolute best resource on the subject. There is also a lot of good information on Paul Stamets’ website as well as online).
You can make tinctures, teas, or just use the powder. And depending on which way you prepare Chaga, different compounds will be extracted in different ratios, while the bioavailability of those different compounds will also vary. Chaga tea is certainly the most popular, but they are all beneficial in their own way. So look into the research and try a few different methods; it is astonishingly effective regardless of how you take it.
In truth, we have yet to scratch the surface of how amazing this superfood could be for human beings – especially when combined with other super foods, tonics and adaptogens. Having seen all the amazing benefits of this powerful adaptogenic mushroom, it seems that Chaga may not only be the king of the medicinal mushrooms, but perhaps also the king of all superfoods as well!
Maxwell Honey I’m a massage therapist, martial arts instructor, writer, and part time music teacher currently living in Grand Rapids, Mi. What I enjoy most about life is its constant novelty – I am always seeking out cutting edge information – from philosophy and nutrition, to music theory and quantum physics. I love to write, read, play music, tell stories, but above all – I love evolving alongside new and excited people who are looking to change the status quo while being infinitely creative and loving, and who aspire to bring a new and prosperous world to fruition NOW.
You can read some more of my writings on my blog www.honey182.wordpress.com – including an excerpt from my upcoming book ‘Returning to the Sacred’ – and check out some of the other things I am currently working towards on my website www.BeYouNow.co and Facebook page.