We are so fortunate to have access to extraordinary superfoods from all over the world that can provide us with superior nutrition to help us grow, heal, balance, and rejuvenate. So far in our superfood series we have covered the wonderful benefits of spirulina, goji berries, bee pollen, hempseeds, cacao (chocolate), and the new superfood anti-aging and repair supplement Laminine for physical and emotional balance. We will now review more superfoods that you may want to enjoy and stock up on for the future.
One of the oldest foods on the planet, chlorella emerged in the fresh waters of Earth over 2 billion years ago as the first single-celled plant (microalgae) with a well-defined nucleus. To this day, chlorella contains the highest percentage of chlorophyll of any known plant. Chlorella was first viewed under a microscope in the late 19th century and named from the Greek “chloros” meaning green and “ella” meaning small. Chlorella has been recognized as a high energy food for centuries due to its rich nutrient and chlorophyll content. The best sources of chlorella are cultivated in clean mineral-rich sunlit ponds where solar rays stimulate concentrated chlorophyll production and infuse this superfood with abundant biophotons for life-giving energy.
As a whole food, chlorella is 60% protein (compared to 18% to 30% protein from fish, chicken, and beef), containing 18 amino acids including all of the essential amino acids that must be obtained from diet. Chlorella contains essential fatty acids including omega 3, polysaccharides, antioxidants, and over 20 vitamins including A, C, B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, E, K, biotin, inositol, and folic acid. It is also a valuable source of bioavailable minerals including iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. Chlorella contains beta carotene and is the richest plant source of RNA/DNA which provides material for the production and repair of human RNA/DNA making this an important anti-aging food. Chlorella’s abundant nutrients support the function of the brain, liver, and heart, enhance immunity, help to relieve inflammation, aid in cellular repair and regeneration, and accelerate healing.
Chlorella’s dense chlorophyll content helps to protect the body from ultra-violet radiation and medical radiation treatments. Studies conducted after nuclear catastrophes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 reported positive results in helping the population recover from dangerous levels of radiation exposure. Chlorella is also highly valued as an effective detoxifying agent for clearing heavy metals and toxic chemicals from the body’s tissues including mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, pesticides, herbicides, PCBs, and DDT. A 1973 Japanese animal study showed that chlorella had the ability to dramatically increase the elimination of cadmium in the feces by three times that of the control group and in the urine by seven times more than in animals not given chlorella. Research has shown chlorella to be especially helpful in detoxifying mercury in the body from dental amalgam fillings.
Chlorella is particularly beneficial to the functioning of the liver which is essential for daily detoxification and maintenance. In his book “Superfoods”, David Wolfe notes a study that showed that taking 4 to 6 grams of chlorella before consuming alcohol can prevent hangovers 96% of the time, even after heavy drinking. The high magnesium content of chlorophyll in chlorella helps to absorb toxins and stimulate bowel elimination, providing relief from constipation and intestinal gas. Chlorella also contains the enzymes chlorophyllase and pepsin which aid digestion. Chlorella has been used to treat ulcers, colitis, diverticulosis, hypertension, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, anemia, pancreatitis, diabetes, high cholesterol, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.
Chlorella enhances the immune system, increasing the body’s resistance to bacterial and viral infections. Studies show ingestion of chlorella increases resistance to serious illness from cytomegalovirus by 65% and the potentially lethal listeria bacterium by up to 25%. Chlorella can be a protective supplement to those given immune-suppressing drugs, and is extremely beneficial to cancer patients on chemotherapy as it accelerates the recovery of immune cells and mature white blood cells. The blue pigment phycocyanin in some strains of chlorella helps the body to produce more stem cells.
Chlorella contains the unique component “Chlorella Growth Factor” (CGF) which mysteriously enables it to quadruple itself every 24 hours, growing faster than any other crop on the planet. As a food, this property enables chlorella to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines which enhances digestion and immunity. GCF additionally gives chlorella the ability to dramatically increase healing and regeneration of the tissues including brain and nerve damage, and has been helpful in treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Chlorella powder can be added to smoothies or taken in capsule or tablet form. It is often mixed with other greens such as spirulina, wheat grass and seaweeds in a green superfood blend. Body Ecology’s Vitality Super Green is a nourishing energizing powdered drink mix that contains fermented versions of these foods which enhance digestion and assimilation as well as provide live probiotics for the growth of a healthy inner ecosystem and strong immune system.
Innovative scientists are researching ways to utilize chlorella as a non-polluting biofuel, an alternative to toxic plastics, and an agent for cleaning up nuclear waste. Chlorella is one superfood that is indeed a super plant!
Chia seed is an ancient superfood that is enjoying renewed popularity for its nutritive value and versatility. This little black and white seed, salvia hispanica, is a member of the sage family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico, and was once an important dietary staple of the Incan, Mayan, and Aztec cultures and Native Americans of the southwest. Chia is the Mayan word for strength and was used as a high energy endurance food by the Aztec warriors. It was reported that as little as 1 tablespoon of chia seeds could sustain an individual for 24 hours. Chia is also known as “Indian running food” after the Indians who ran from the Colorado River to the California coast to trade turquoise for seashells carrying only a pouch of chia seeds for nourishment.
Chi has an impressive nutritional profile containing twice the amount of protein of any other seed or grain including all of the essential amino acids. It has five times more calcium than milk, twice the amount of potassium as bananas, three times the antioxidant strength of blueberries, three times more iron than spinach, and copious amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, containing more omega 3 oils than flax seed. Chia is an excellent source of soluble fiber that is hydrophilic (absorptive), and can absorb 12 times its weight in water forming a soft gel in 10 minutes. 1/3 cup chia seeds soaked in 2 cups of water yields 17 ounces of tasty chia gel. Soaking chia seeds in water also helps to release enzyme inhibitors that may impede digestion. When ingested, chia can prolong hydration and help us to retain electrolytes, especially during times of intense physical activity. As an insoluble fiber, chia can dislodge old accumulated waste in the intestinal tract and reduce digestive transit time, removing toxins as they pass through the digestive tract.
When the whole raw seeds are eaten the fluids in the stomach interact with the hydrophilic seeds, creating a gel. Both the whole seeds and prepared gel slow down absorption of carbohydrates and sugars, helping to balance blood sugar which is extremely beneficial for diabetics and those with insulin resistance. Absorption of other nutrients is also regulated allowing for more efficient digestion and assimilation. Chia is a natural remedy for gastric disturbances such as heartburn, intestinal gas and constipation. The hydrophilic colloids in chia also help with digestion of foods that may otherwise cause food sensitivities. Chia’s high fiber composition will bulk up any food it is mixed with creating a feeling of fullness. This quality along with chia’s ability to reduce blood sugar levels after meals helps to curb appetite and support healthy weight loss.
Chia’s high omega 3 content helps to enhance brain and cardiovascular health and reduce excess triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels. Its high nutritional content and hydrophilic properties helps to build and strengthen muscle, enhance energy and endurance, and speed recovery from injuries. Chia has medicinal properties that help ease inflammation and joint pain, and the soaked seeds can be applied topically to help heal wounds and skin irritation. With all that this superfood has to offer, it’s easy to see why the native cultures once considered chia to be more valuable than gold!
Chia seeds have a very mild flavor and can be added to any recipe without significantly altering the taste. Whole seeds can be sprinkled onto salads, cereal, or yogurt, made into raw dehydrated crackers, added to baked goods, or mixed with other ingredients in an array of recipes. Native Mexicans enjoy a special treat called “chia fresca” which is made by mixing chia seeds with water, lemon or lime juice and honey. When added to sweeter fruit juices such as apple, chia helps to balance blood sugar which may otherwise spike from the higher levels of fructose in the juice. Ground chia seeds sold as chia meal or chia protein powder can be added to smoothies and sauces. Due to chia’s high antioxidant content, the whole seeds are very shelf-stable and can be safely stored up to 4 years without refrigeration. Chia meal is viable for up to 2 years, unlike flax seed meal which goes rancid in 90 days. Chia gel will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Camu camu berries, myrciaria dubia, grow on a shrub that is indigenous to the Amazon rainforests in South America where it has been traditionally recognized by the natives as a superfood with extraordinary medicinal properties. The tart purplish-red camu camu berry is most commonly available in dehydrated powder form and can be added to beverages and smoothies for enhanced nutrition with the average daily dose of 1 teaspoon. Camu camu has been called the “Vitamin C Sun King” by nutritionist David Wolfe as it contains a higher concentration of vitamin C than any other plant in the world. Camu Camu boasts 50 times more vitamin C, 10 times the iron, 3 times the niacin, 50 times more phosphorous, and twice the zinc as citrus fruits. It is also an excellent source of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, bioflavonoids, antioxidants, amino acids, and some B vitamins.
Extensive research on vitamin C has revealed how important this essential nutrient is in our diet since our body cannot synthesize it. As an antioxidant, vitamin C enhances immunity, protects the nervous system, and is required for the production and strengthening of collagen which is the intercellular cement that holds the body together and protects the cells and DNA from foreign invaders such as viruses. Camu camu is one of the best whole food sources of vitamin C containing a full spectrum of nutrients including natural ascorbic acid and several bioflavonoids, vitamins and minerals. A whole food vitamin C complex is far more beneficial and bioavailable to the body than synthetic vitamin C which is commonly ascorbic acid that is frequently made from corn grown in China.
Native traditions and recent research on Camu camu have shown this exceptional berry to be beneficial to health in numerous ways. Dr. James Duke, PhD, renowned botanist and author of numerous books including “The Green Pharmacy”, identifies Camu camu as one of the top superfruits in the world. Camu camu is perhaps best known as a support to the immune system and is especially helpful in warding off bacterial and viral infections including herpes and shingles. It helps to protect the nervous system, enhance mental performance, improve vision, and prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Camu camu has natural anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful in easing arthritic pain. Since camu camu strengthens collagen, it naturally helps to create beautiful skin, hair, and nails, and supports strong tendons, ligaments, joints, teeth and gums.
Camu camu helps to balance brain chemistry and enhance serotonin which improves sleep and mood. Nutritionist Gary Null, PhD identifies camu camu as a powerful anti-depressant. It has also been cited as beneficial for preventing migraines, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. More recently, camu camu supplements have been used to address ADD and ADHD. Camu camu supports the liver and protects it from injury. It also improves respiratory function and eases asthma. Camu Camu can help balance blood pressure and prevent arterial plaque buildup. Its superior nutrient and antioxidant content enhances fertility, and its anti-mutagenic properties help to prevent cancer-causing genetic mutations. Clearly, camu camu, chia, and chlorella would be powerful additions to any health building, anti-aging nutritional program.