Updated: Jan 14
When we think of all the essential nutrients our bodies need every single day for optimal function and wellness, it can get overwhelming. However, when we focus our meal planning around specific nutrient-rich superfoods, we can be sure our minds and bodies are well supported with less stress.
Here is a list of 20 Superfoods to incorporate into your diet for optimal nutrition:
1) Leafy Greens: offer a powerhouse of nutrients including folate and other B vitamins, magnesium, beta-carotene, Vitamin A, C and K, and potassium. Bitter greens specifically help support detoxification and digestion. The fiber that leafy greens offer keeps you full and satisfied for longer periods of time while supporting blood sugar and promoting healthy gut flora. Leafy greens are also rich in the anti-inflammatory antioxidant, quercetin which is fabulous for allergies, asthma, heart health, colds/flu and more.
Examples: Swiss chard, arugula, endive, Bok choy, turnip greens, kale, collards, spinach, beet greens, cabbage, watercress.
Recommendation: 2-3 cups daily. Sauteed, in salads and soups, steamed. Best consumed with healthy fats.
2) Seaweed: extremely rich in minerals, including iodine which is essential for thyroid function. Contains blood-purifying chlorophyll which supports gentle detoxification (heavy metals and other toxic substances) while also supporting a healthy and diverse microbiome. Good source of protein, B vitamins, vitamin C and K, iodine, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids (for healthy joints and heart, metabolic and brain health and hormone regulation).
Examples: nori, kelp, arame, wakame, dulse, kombu.
Recommendation: use nori sheets to make rolls with guacamole, veggies, and protein. Add to soups, stir-fry or bean dishes (reduces gas promoting effects).
3) Cabbage Family: supports detoxification and a healthy liver, supports metabolism of excess estrogen and is rich in phytonutrients, vitamin C and K, B vitamins including folate and choline, and anti-inflammatory quercetin. High in fiber to support a balanced blood sugar and overall gut health.
Examples: broccoli, cauliflower, Bok choy, Brussel sprouts, white and purple cabbage.
Recommendation: 1-2 servings/day. Steam, roast, pureed soups, rice cauliflower for stir-fry.
4) Avocado and Guacamole: rich in fiber, potassium, vitamins C, E, K, B vitamins, copper, magnesium, protein and loaded with healthy fats. Promotes a healthy gut, blood sugar balance and brain health.
Recommendation: choose semi-soft, but not squeezable. Ripe, not blackened. Add to salads, smoothies, nori sheets or as a side to any meal.
5) Berries: high in antioxidants that help fight free radicals, fiber to support a healthy microbiome, manganese for bone health and metabolism and vitamin C for the immune system. Berries are one of the lowest glycemic index fruits making them a great choice even for those with blood sugar imbalance.
Examples: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries.
Recommendation: ½ - 1 cup daily. As a dessert after meals, mixed with coconut yogurt/cream, added to smoothies.
6) Oysters: even just 3 oysters are packed with vitamin B12, zinc, copper, selenium, iron, manganese and omega 3s! Vitamin B12 for energy and mental health as well as preventing anemia. Zinc as a powerful antioxidant and wound healer.
Recommendations: shuck your own oysters at home. Top them with grass-fed butter, sprinkle with spinach, garlic, lemon and spices.
7) Clams: fabulous for fertility, rich in vitamins C, D and B12 as well as zinc, copper, selenium, manganese and iron. Don’t forget the omega-3s!
Recommendation: wild seafood (fish and shellfish) should be consumed 2-4 times a week or 12 ounces a week. Add to soups, stews or add to a lite tomato sauce (high in vitamin C) for best absorption of iron.
8) Wild Seafood (low mercury): rich in brain-boosting omega-3s, DHA, B vitamins and vitamin D as well as many trace minerals like iodine, zinc, and selenium. The perfect food for thyroid imbalances.
Recommendation: salmon, herring, sardines, wild salmon and caviar, scallops, cod, rainbow trout, Atlantic mackerel. Grill, bake, add to soups and salads, serve with veggies. Consume 2-4 times week or 12 ounces a week.
9) Cod Liver Oil: rich in DHA, EPA, vitamin D and the active form of vitamin A. Just 1 tbsp. of fermented cod liver oil, used as supplement, contains 270% of the daily value of vitamin A and 338% of the daily value of vitamin D. Keep in mind that half the population cannot convert other forms of vitamin A (beta-carotene from plants) to the active form.
Recommendation: can be found in our online store or your local health food store. Only purchase dark colored glass bottles for liquids and triglyceride forms for capsules – I recommend Nordic Naturals.
10) Fermented Foods: provide beneficial bacteria, enzymes and lauric acid which promote a healthy and happy digestive tract and vaginal pH. A happy gut = happy mind, immune system and hormone balance. Just 1 tbsp of sauerkraut contains 1.5 trillion CFU, while most probiotics measure potency in millions or billions.
Examples: sauerkraut, miso, pickled ginger, unsweetened coconut or almond yogurt, unsweetened coconut kefir, kimchi, pickles fermented with salt, beet kvass, lacto-fermented vegetables and fruits (fermented beets, carrots).
Recommendation: add 1-2 tbsp. of fermented veggies to proteins or grains (quinoa/rice), in salads or just as a side.
11) Grass-Fed, Full Fat, Fermented Dairy (if tolerated): potent source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, B vitamins, iodine and calcium … while also serving as a protein source and probiotics. Vitamin K is essential to healthy bones as well as improving insulin sensitivity.
Examples: yogurt, kefir, sour cream, cheese.
Recommendation: choose organic and grass-fed whenever possible. Depending on your digestion, 2-3 times a week is sufficient. Avoid if sensitive and experience bloating, gas, increased throat/nasal mucus. Sheep or goat dairy may be preferred over cow dairy.
12) Grass-Fed Butter or Ghee: fabulous source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Promoting healthy hormone balance, heart health, bone health and immunity. Good quality fats keep you fuller longer and help regulate blood sugar.
Recommendation: melt on veggies, add to soups and purees and use for cooking.
13) Grass-Fed or Pasture-Raised Liver: liver is 10-100 times more nutrient dense than muscle meat. Liver is rich in vitamins A, D, E and K as well as B vitamins (especially B12), copper, selenium, iron and zinc. It has been called nature’s multivitamin! Perfect to support and prevent anemia.
Recommendation: consume 3-4 oz of liver once or twice a week. Choose pasture-raised, healthy animals only. Sauté with onions, make liver pate or you can even freeze and cut into tiny pieces to swallow.
14) Bone Broth and Slow-Cooked Meats: sources of complete proteins (meaning they include all the essential amino acids), fat soluble and B vitamins in forms your body can easily absorb and utilize, as well as important minerals like zinc and iron. Bones, skin and connective tissue are rich in collagen and glycine (supports skin health, detox and mood). Minerals from the bone leak into the broth making it a source of magnesium, calcium, potassium, etc. Bone broth helps promote healthy digestion and supports gut healing.
Recommendations: drink 6-12 oz of broth from pasture-raised animals daily. Poultry, game and pasture-raised meat on the bone for slow cooking. Drink it like hot tea or use it as a base for soups and stews.
15) Pastured Egg Yolks and Whole Eggs: rich in omega 3s, iron, calcium, selenium, zinc, vitamins B6, folate, B12, choline, Vitamin A, D and E. Egg yolks have the highest concentrations of choline, which is essential for brain development and memory function.
Recommendation: consume at least two eggs a week, preferably organic and pasture- raised, since the nutrient content is considerably higher. Eggs are great at breakfast to keep blood sugar stable for the rest of the day. Eggs can be fried, scrambled, soft boiled, served with greens, in omelets or frittatas loaded with veggies. Remember, the cholesterol from foods does not correspond with the cholesterol on blood work. We need cholesterol for hormone regulation and detox support. *Some do have egg sensitivities, so do avoid if you experience headaches, mucus in the throat/sinuses, mucus formed coughs, etc.
16) Coconut Oil: fatty acids in coconut oil provide the body with energy, boost organ function (liver, gallbladder) and regulate thyroid function.
Recommendation: 1-2 tbsp. a day used for cooking, in smoothies, in soups, added to tea or coffee.
17) Spirulina: has anti-inflammatory properties and contains various vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, E, and K, B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium and zinc as well as protein, antioxidants, chlorophyll and phytonutrients. Overall, spirulina contains many vitamins and minerals essential for maintaining a healthy immune system to fight off viruses and opportunistic bacteria, balancing cholesterol and supporting balanced blood sugar.
Recommendation: up to 2 tbsp. a day in smoothies, energy balls, or in tablet form. Make sure it is a clean, organic brand.
18) Nuts and Seeds: like chia, hemp, flaxseed, pumpkin and walnuts are high in many minerals as well as omega 3s which are essential for regulating hormones and supporting brain and gut health. They are also high in fiber and contain protein which supports satiation and regularity.
Recommendation: sprinkle over salads, yogurt, grain-free granola, oatmeal, add to smoothies, or just as a snack.
19) Sweet potatoes: good source of fiber and rich in B vitamins, vitamin A and C, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium as well as mood supporting amino acids tryptophan and phenylalanine. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties great for the eyes, bones and skin, as well as support for the immune system and reproduction.
Recommendations: consume with grass-fed butter or ghee to support blood sugar balance, add cinnamon for extra antioxidants. Try sliced sweet potato as the toast for avocado toast.
20) Green Tea: rich in vitamin B2, manganese, antioxidants (EGCG) and polyphenolic compounds, green tea has very strong anti-inflammatory effects. It protects against chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It supports brain health, blood sugar regulation, healthy bones and the immune system. Green tea is a natural metabolism booster and natural antibiotic with antifungal properties.
Recommendation: consume 1 full cup daily. Add slices of ginger root and lemon juice for added digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits. For osteoporosis/osteopenia boost it to 3 cups/day.
So, when planning your meals for the week, consider these fabulous superfoods to boost overall nutritional intake for optimal health and wellness.