Vegan Superfoods: Chia, Goji, Maca, and More

Some foods are comparatively low in nutrients, while many other foods are quite nutritious. And then there’s a tiny number of foods are ridiculously high in nutrients. These foods are often termed superfoods. As you might expect, there’s no clear line separating superfoods from foods that are merely very nutritious. But the superfoods term is nevertheless useful, since eating them guarantees that you’re tacking a big dose of nutrients onto your everyday diet.

All superfoods are not alike. Some are rich in minerals like iron and calcium, others are rich in vitamins, and others contain certain phytochemicals (plant substances) that are believed to be beneficial.

Measured by weight, superfoods tend to be far more expensive than most other foods. But because they’re so rich in nutrients a little goes a long way. The concentrated nature of superfoods also means that they’re the perfect food to order online—shipping costs are generally very low since there’s not much weight involved.

There’s no doubt that adding well-chosen superfoods to your daily diet can dramatically increase your daily nutrient intake. Here, then, is our collection of top superfoods available from

Chia Seeds

No doubt about it: most people who don’t have nearly enough Omega 3 fatty acids in their diets. Worse yet, for vegetarians, is that cold-water fish best-known source of Omega 3s in the human diet.

The good news, however, is that there are a few extremely rich vegan sources of Omega 3s (chia seeds, algae, and flax seeds). Of these, chia is probably the easiest of the bunch to incorporate into your daily diet. It’s great in any number of live-food recipes, and is also terrific when added to smoothies. You can also just add a tablespoon or so of the seeds to a glass of juice or water, soak for fifteen minutes, and drink it on the spot.

Chia seeds are loaded with Omega 3s, and you can consume them in any number of ways. Best of all, organic chia seeds are inexpensive and easy to find.

Recommended Product: Anthony’s Organic Black Chia Seeds.

HealthForce Superfoods Vitamineral Green

If you take only one superfood product, this would be a great choice. Vitamineral Green is an ultra-concentrated green food made from all-organic ingredients, including seaweeds, algaes, and probiotics. A three-teaspoon dose costs less than a dollar a day.

Goji Berries

Most goji berries come from Tibet or the Chinese Himalayas, and they’re typically sold in dried form. Unlike most dried foods they’re rarely eaten as-is. Instead, most people soak them for an thirty minutes or more in water before serving. The water absorbs much of the berries’ flavor and nutrients, so many people drink the water along with the berries all in one go. Since during soaking goji berries swell up to double or triple their size, a little goes a long way.

Goji berries stand out as containing large amounts of vitamin C, iron, and antioxidants. Chinese medicine uses these berries to treat a variety of ailments.

Many live foods cookbooks make use of goji berries. You can prepare the soaked berries in any number of recipes. They’re often blended into cake or cookie batters that are then dehydrated in a food dryer.

Recommended Product: TrueVibe Organic Raw Goji Berries

Cacao Beans or Nibs

Cacao is the core ingredient of chocolate, with nothing stripped away and no sugar added. Cacao is packed with gentle caffeine-related stimulants, so it gives you a lift similar to coffee. But the effect is more gentle and unlikely to produce the coffee jitters. Cacao comes in three forms:

  1. Whole beans shaped like small almonds
  2. Crushed “nibs” that are perhaps a third the size of a raisin
  3. Powder

Nibs are great middle-ground since they’re minimally processed, and convenient for snacking and a variety of food preparation.

While cacao beans or nibs are delicious when eaten raw, people accustomed to getting their chocolate from Hershey Bars will likely find cacao too bitter to eat on its own. But over time your tastes are likely to change. If you don’t like the flavor of raw cacao right away, you can add it to shakes and smoothies and thereby get the benefits of eating chocolate in its whole and raw form. If you want more ideas for incorporating cacao into your diet, check out Matthew Kenney’s superb all-vegan live foods book, Raw Chocolate.

Much of the world’s chocolate is tied to oppressive working conditions and even to slavery, but you can easily find fair-trade chocolate that certifies that its workers are paid and treated adequately.

Recommended Product: Navitas Organic Raw Cacao Nibs

Spirulina

Spirulina is a variety of blue-green freshwater algae that is loaded with chlorophyll, protein, beta-carotene, and a wide variety of essential vitamins & minerals. It also also contains substantial amounts of gamma-linolenic acid, which is a key fat for the brain and other organs.

Recommended Products: Nutrex’ Spirulina Pacifica powder or tablets.

Chlorella

Chlorella is an algae quite similar to spirulina, but it’s bright-green rather than blue-green. This in turn means that it’s even higher in chlorophyll. In fact, there is no food or superfood that is richer in chlorophyll than chlorella. NOW’s chlorella is certified organic and comes in both powder and tablet form.

Maca

Maca is a root vegetable grown at high elevations in Peru. Consumed since ancient times as a gentle stimulant, it’s also thought to increase libido and to alleviate hormone imbalances. The mechanisms by which maca works are largely unknown. But anecdotal reports of the benefits of maca are  widespread. This probably explains why maca is a widely-consumed product in the live foods community. A tablespoon of maca blended into morning smoothies is a good way to begin incorporating this food into your diet. It’s got a pleasant malty, butterscotch like flavor.

Recommended Product: Terrasoul Superfoods Maca Powder

For more information, please see our guides to vegan nutrition, vitamins, and protein


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