When you’re working on optimizing your diet and your health, superfoods are a great place to focus, to get the biggest bang per bite.
What Are Superfoods?
The label “superfood” doesn’t have an official or scientifically-based definition, but rather, it is a term that’s typically used to distinguish foods that are:
- nutrient dense (contain lots of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients)
- anti-aging (ie. correlate with healthier aging and longer healthspan)
- known to confer extra health benefits in addition to their nutritional value, such as increased immune function, or cancer-fighting
In other words, superfoods are those foods that offer exceptional health benefits, beyond what you might expect based just on their nutritional profile.
Speaking of nutritional profile, superfoods are, typically, especially rich in:
- Antioxidants: These natural compounds protect your cells from damage and may lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
- Vitamins: From A to Z, loading up on these health-enhancing compounds is essential for optimizing health.
- Minerals: These essential nutrients, which include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, sulfur, cobalt, copper, fluoride, manganese, and selenium, help your body perform at its highest level.
- Flavonoids: Found in plants, flavonoids have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Examples of flavonoids are Quercetin and Luteolin.
- Healthy fats: Monounsaturated and saturated fats are the healthiest fats, boosting energy, reducing inflammation, improving cell wall structure, and aiding in the absorption of important fat-soluble nutrients such as Vitamins A, E and K.
That’s the “usual” criteria.
But something that most lists of superfoods don’t take into account is impact on blood sugar, and insulin stimulation. And since good blood sugar control and keeping insulin production fairly low are crucial for everyone for minimizing disease and achieving and maintaining optimal health, these need to be factored in when assessing the healthfulness of any food.
So let’s take superfoods up a notch, shall we?
Because to earn the title of superfood, a food should not be just nutrient dense, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory, but also have the added health-boosting and disease-fighting benefit of being low carb, keeping blood sugar and insulin stimulation to a minimum!
Top 20 CleanKeto Superfoods
So, here’s my list of the top 20 superfoods – the ones that meet all the usual criteria, and are also Paleo and low carb/Keto (ie. CleanKeto). As always, extra points for organic, local and seasonal fruits and veggies, wild-caught seafood, and pasture-raised animal products! And if you’ve done my program, Dr. Emily’s 10-Day Detox, you might notice that a lot of these players also make an appearance on the detox-boosting foods list, too. 😊
- Alliums (chives, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, scapes, shallots)
- Beet Greens
- Berries (all the fruits ending in -rries) – always avoid berries that aren’t organic!
- Brassicas & their sprouts (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) – for a complete list of brassicas, check out my infographic Beautiful Brassicas
- Butter (from pastured cows)
- Citrus (grapefruit, lemons & limes)
- Dark Chocolate (preferably >80% and certified mold-free, such as Addictive Wellness or Pascha)
- Olive Oil (extra virgin, cold pressed – ex. California Olive Ranch)
- Organ Meats (liver, heart, brain, sweetbreads, etc.)
- Ruminant Meat (beef, bison, deer, elk, lamb, etc. – see full list here)
- Seaweed (dulse, hijiki, nori, wakame, etc. – see full list here)
The Bottom Line
If you are looking to achieve and maintain optimal health and avoid or reverse disease, focusing on filling your plate with superfoods is one of the best ways to help achieve that!
Start adding (or increasing) the above foods in your diet today to reap their many benefits.
Looking for next steps on your holistic health journey?
Check out my Roadmap to Optimal Health, as well as my many articles, podcast episodes, and healthy, delicious recipes.
Disclosure: I receive a small commission for qualifying purchases made using some of the links in this article.