Six Superfoods Aid Sex Drive, Depression, Cancer, Herpes and More
The term has become as ubiquitous as it is vague. Products from chocolate bars to convenience drinks claim to contain them, but what are they and what separates them from regular foods? Can they make you fly or see through walls? Can they make you faster or smarter or live forever? And if not, what is so super about them?
To be clear, the ability to fly and the acquisition of X-ray vision are not associated with superfood consumption. Increased athletic ability, brain function, and life span? Possibly. Superfoods have high phytonutrient (plant nutrient) or micronutrient content, are loaded with antioxidants, and have positive medicinal properties - without most of the side effects that come with traditional western medicines. They are whole foods harvested directly from nature and altered only by, say, dehydration, if at all. They do not come solely from remote Amazonian rain forests, but are growing in our own American pumpkin patches, forests, and fields. Here are six of these powerful foods, demystified, and how you can painlessly incorporate them into your diet.
Camu camu is a berry that grows on low-lying shrubs in the Amazon that is freeze-dried to make a powder supplement. One teaspoon of this contains nearly 12-times your recommended daily value of vitamin C. ONE TEASPOON!
So why is that good? In alternative medicine, some people use overdoses of vitamin C to treat all sorts of ailments, from hepatitis to cancer. Medical practitioners also tout camu camu as an excellent anti-depressant... and, uh, a highly effective antidote to the effects of the herpes virus. The powder is very tart, so adding it to smoothies will lend a tangy citrus flavor.
|Don't carve your chihuahua's face into pumpkins -- eat them!|
Yes, those big orange globes we've been mutilating every October for as long as anyone can remember are actually fantastic for your health. They're a good source of vitamin E (fat soluble vitamin that neutralizes free radicals, warding off cancer and cardiac disease), thiamin (cardiovascular health, et. al), niacin (nervous system function, healthy hormone production, circulation), vitamin B6 (immune function), folate (especially essential during pregnancy), iron, magnesium and phosphorus, an excellent source of vitamin A (beta carotene - vision, reproduction, bone growth), vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium (heart, kidney, nerve, and digestive function), copper (nervous and immune system function) and manganese (metabolism, bone health). Of course they are also extremely high in dietary fiber. The seeds add cholesterol-fighting health phytosterols, tryptophan, zinc, protein, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat to pumpkin's health portfolio. You can add fresh or canned pumpkin to stews, soups, and chilis, make pumpkin pie, and add the seeds to oatmeal or salads, or roll homemade veggie burgers in them pre-baking for a delicious crunch and smooth flavor.
In my opinion, maca probably belongs in the number one superfood slot, but seeing as one of maca's most notable effects is an increase in sexual appetite, I suppose it's fitting that I just couldn't wait to list it. Maca comes from a turnip-like vegetable found in Peru and has been used in Andean societies as both food and currency for thousands of years. The root is an excellent adaptogen, which means it regulates endocrine systems in the body and mind that help us cope with stress. Maca increases stamina in the bedroom (and animal studies have backed humans' extensive empirical experiments in this area) and on the battlefield, and combats fatigue. Maca root is packed with vitamins, plant sterols, many essential minerals, amino acids and healthy fats. It has a caramelly, honey-like flavor which blends nicely in with puddings, smoothies, or a bowl of oats. Great for athletes and anyone looking for a caffeine-free morning boost that kinda makes you feel like you're high - and yet totally clear-headed. (Yes, I love my maca.)