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Surprising Superfoods

By Nonie De Long, ROHP

Dear Nutritionist,

My friend told me broccoli is a superfood and so is kale. She read it in one of those magazines she reads. My question is this: are there really ‘superfoods’ and if so, what are they (guessing all green things?) and what do they do for me? My friend also thinks aliens are real so I had to check.

Dubious

Dear Dubious,

Great question! Superfoods are indeed real. “Superfood” is a term used to refer to foods that are known to have a greater than average beneficial impact on health. I say known to have, because, as research pumps out new data on food compounds our understanding grows. Today I’ll discuss what I believe to be the top three

1) Liver

Liver is, hands down, one of the most nutrient dense foods we know of. Why? A serving contains roughly 3,460 per cent of RDA of B12 for adults. (RDA is recommended daily allowance from Canada’s Dietary Reference Tables). It contains over 200 per cent of the RDA of riboflavin and over 65 per cent the RDA of folate. Other B vitamins it contains include: thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6 and biotin.

In addition, it contains 80 per cent of the iron an adult needs, as well as over 1,600 per cent of the RDA of copper and 100 per cent of the RDA of choline. And, it’s full of fat soluble vitamins:  A (53,400 IU), D (19 IU), K (60 per cent of the RDA), and E (.63mg). It’s also a perfect protein.

The healthiest source is obviously pastured animals that have been raised with best farming practices. If you haven’t had liver you enjoy yet, I encourage you to take the time to learn a good recipe for it.

The reason it’s at the absolute top of my list is that these particular nutrients: the Bs, the fat soluble vitamins, and choline are all brain and nervous system foods. And that is what I see people missing today. After one serving of liver I saw a client lifted from horrible fatigue and depression she had been suffering. One serving. That is the power of superfoods!

2) Bone broth

Bone broth is second on my list of superfoods because of its mineral density. In my estimation, after the fat soluble vitamins, minerals are the most important determinant of health. They are extremely important for a number of processes in the body and sugars, processed foods, and alcohol all deplete them.

It’s well documented that the soil has been depleted of many of the essential minerals we need, which are taken up by the plant roots into the plant matter. When the soil is depleted, so too are our bodies. So even if we eat plentiful vegetables we are likely to be deficient in many of the minerals or to have imbalances in them. Natural ways of getting minerals are through spring or alkaline water; through bone broth or bone marrow; or through plants that take up minerals from fertile soil. Sea salt and plants from the sea are also full of minerals, with a definite dominance of sodium and iodine, respectively.

Bone broth frees the minerals and collagen from bones to render them in a very easily digested form. With other nutrients, if you are deficient you can simply supplement with them. But with minerals it’s tricky because minerals come from rocks and bones, which are notably hard to chew on, digest, and absorb. Supplement formulations of minerals are composed of rock minerals (inorganic) wrapped in a protein to try to ‘trick’ the body into absorbing them. This is called a chelate. There’s good question about whether this works exactly as organic (natural) minerals do in the body.

You might think broth is just a liquid, but in a cool state you can see it is very dense and gelatinous, rather like jello. This gelatin is formed when the collagen from the cartilage and skin break down, which is why you want knuckle, foot, wing, neck, or tail bones. More cartilage, more better. Collagen is great for repairing cartilage in the body and can help with joint pain, skin elasticity, digestive inflammation, sleep issues, bone density issues, and nervous system and brain health.

The finished broth contains a number of amino acids (building blocks of proteins), some of which are lacking in modern diets: most notably glycine, proline, and valine. It contains about 2g of protein per half cup. It’s easy to make and quite delicious and filling. It’s also an excellent diet food (remember, fat triggers satiety hormones in the brain). Here is a great video that walks through of how to make a bone broth. I teach classes in the autumn and winter on soups and broths if anyone should like a more in depth, hands-on type tutorial.

3) Coconut Oil
Despite being maligned in mainstream media because it contains a good amount of saturated fat, which has been wrongly demonized as unhealthy due to bad science, coconut is actually an incredible superfood. There are over 15,000 studies showing the health benefits of the oil alone!

Did you know organic, virgin coconut oil is the healthiest oil you can cook with? It has a high smoke point (~350) and the type of fat it contains – medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) give incredible, lasting energy to the body in a way that largely bypasses the work the liver has to do to break other fats down. So it’s processed into energy almost immediately! This type of fatty acid is also more stable, easier to digest, and not as easy to store as body fat.

Coconut oil is known to be anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antimicrobial. It’s liver protective and has been shown to be of benefit in digestive inflammatory disorders, including treating H-pylori, stomach ulcers, UTIs, kidney infections, and yeast infections. It’s also been shown to improve brain function.

It can help normalize insulin in people who are diabetic/prediabetic. It can be used for oil pulling to strengthen teeth and gums. It’s also great for skin, hair, and nails, both taken orally and used topically as a soothing moisturizer.

The bottom line: you want to be using this oil! And these are only three of the superfoods we have plentiful access to in order to boost our health naturally.

As always, Readers are encouraged to ask their nutrition questions via the Ask a Nutritionist page.

Namaste!
Nonie Nutritionista

Nonie De Long is a licensed orthomolecular nutritionist (ROHP, CNP Hons 1
st) currently finishing a degree in homeopathy. She has a clinic and apothecary in Bradford, ON, and a special interest in mental health care. Visit www.hopenotdope.ca

Check out this video – Bone Broth and Health: A Look at the Science
video from Kaayla Daniel, Ph.D., CCN.

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