As I began my journey into the Paleo diet, one thing became abundantly clear: the Paleo lifestyle is much more than simply eliminating certain foods.
This life-changing dietary alteration has the ability to transform not only my waistline, but also my overall health and wellness. For millions, the Paleo diet is an answer to their growing health problems.
The fundamental principles of the Paleolithic diet are relatively simple – avoid processed foods and replace them with wholesome, nutrient-dense counterparts. For anyone who knows me, they understand I have an obsession with research. It’s with this desire to learn more about this life-altering, I stumbled across the topic of “superfoods.”
At first, as many before me, I thought this term was nothing more than a “buzzy” way of promoting certain foods. However, my research revealed the truth behind catchy advertisements and blogs filled with exclamation points. To my amazement, there are several Paleo foods capable of doing more than spreading needed nutrients throughout your body.
Whenever I hear the term “superfood” I imagine a masked hero bursting through my window and handing me a rare, glowing, fruit or vegetable. While these Paleo foods don’t come with a dynamic soundtrack and a caped crusader, their impact on your body is just as powerful.
It’s important to note, there is no set criteria for a food to earn this catchy designation. Rather, superfoods are those with mega-doses of essential nutrients and vitamins.
While marketing agencies work to promote products by using this term on their labels, superfoods aren’t capable of completely protecting against chronic diseases. However, when they’re consumed within the Paleo diet, they can offer additional layers of protection. To learn more about superfoods, watch this quick video where Josh Axe, Certified Nutrition Specialist, explains this often misunderstood topic.
When I first began debating whether or not to go on the Paleo diet, I had a moment of dread. Although I craved health and healing, I also had a different craving: chocolate. In the quest of perfect health, would I have to abandon one of my most treasured guilty pleasures? To my surprise, the answer to this question was much different than anticipated.
Before you begin to argue with me about how chocolate isn’t a Paleo food, I’m not referring to the sugar-filled processed candy bar found in convenience stores. Rather, I’m talking about the unrefined, unprocessed and flavorful version of dark chocolate.
80% pure dark chocolate is filled with specialized compounds known to protect your cardiovascular system from damage. With every serving, you’re treated to a buffet of antioxidants, flavonoids and flavanols. These compounds work to repair cellular damage due to free radicals while actively lowering blood pressure and increasing overall blood flow to your heart and brain.
However, don’t go overboard with this Paleo food. Eat only 3 to 5 small squares of pure dark chocolate every day.
The heart and soul of the Paleo diet is protein. Our cave-dwelling ancestors heavily relied on protein sources to fuel their bodies as they moved throughout their daily activities. In fact, their overall daily caloric intake was 19 to 35 percent from protein sources. When we look at the modern western diet, protein generally comprises only 15 percent of the calories we consume.
Grass-fed lean beef is loaded with essential nutrients, such as vitamin E, CLA, omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotene. Unlike other forms of beef, which are fed a complex concoction of hormones, antibiotics and synthetic compounds designed to “beef” up cows, 100% grass-fed beef contains twice the concentration of beta-carotene and lutein. Another benefit? Grass-fed cows tend to come from sustainable farms that treat their livestock with respect.
During my research about the best Paleo foods to enhance my health and nutritional profile, I was thrilled to learn my favorite berry is considered one of the most potent superfoods. These sweet and juicy fruits feature some of the highest antioxidant counts of any fruit.
The potent nutritional profile of an organic raw blueberry does far more than give you a daily dose of Vitamin C, although they are considered one of the best sources of this essential vitamin. By infusing your body with massive amounts of vitamins, polyphenols and minerals, organic blueberries have been shown to support healthy bones, manage diabetes, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease and even protect against certain types of cancers.
Get the most out of these delicious fruits by eating 1 cup of organic blueberries each day.
Throughout the past several years, few superfoods have grown in popularity as fast as organic coconut oil. Many believe this is one of the most potent Paleo foods capable of not only enhancing the flavor of your dishes, but also boosting your overall health and vitality. As much as I wanted to disprove the promoted benefits of coconut oil, my research has proven these claims are factual and real.
Aside from its ability to add a delicious flavor to your Paleo recipes and fill your body with the essential fats the Paleo diet requires, organic coconut oil has been shown to:
As with all Paleo foods, make sure you only use unprocessed and unrefined virgin coconut oil.
Leafy greens make up the bulk of many of my Paleo recipes as they’re filling, cost-effective and are dense in essential nutrients. The versatility of this Paleo food makes it an incredible addition to any meal and are proven to dynamically increase your health and vitality.
Unlike other vegetables, which feature a lower nutrient count, leafy greens offer a wide array of antioxidants and other plant-based chemicals (known as phytochemicals). This unique concoction of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals are known to:
To truly maximize this Paleo food, try to add leafy greens into your Paleo diet at least once a day.
As mentioned earlier, protein plays an essential role in the Paleo diet. Because the Paleo lifestyle is built around mimicking the Paleolithic diet of our ancestors, it’s important to choose food sources that are closely aligned with the type of foods they ate.
Eggs form the foundation of many of my favorite Paleo recipes. This compact and nutrient-dense food source offers a host of essential nutrients to fuel you throughout your day. Organic eggs are completely free from antibiotics, arsenic, steroids and hormones.
The nutritional profile of organic free range eggs is quite impressive. Within each compact shell, your body is delivered a host of amino acids, carotenoids and various minerals. Along with filling your body with protein, one study found cooked eggs produce peptides known to lower blood pressure and support overall cardiovascular health.
A staple in many Paleo diets is fish; specifically wild caught salmon. Throughout the past several years, the importance of omega-3 fatty acids has circulated throughout the mainstream consciousness. The Paleo diet highlights the value of this compound as many recommended Paleo foods are rich in this essential fat. Most notably is the inclusion of wild caught salmon.
Wild caught salmon not only contains a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, but also unique bioactive proteins, known as bioactive peptides. These molecules work to support healthy healthy cardiovascular, digestive, nervous and immune systems. Unfortunately, these compounds are primarily derived from dairy. However, by regularly consuming wild caught salmon, you’re able to sustain recommended levels of these essential peptide molecules.
Of course, there are many other foods which feature dense nutritional profiles and are essential for a healthy Paleo lifestyle. Yet, it would be impossible to describe each and every one.
These Paleo foods were chosen because of their ease of availability, cost-effectiveness and versatility within most Paleo recipes. By actively trying to incorporate these Paleo superfoods into you daily diet, you’ll soon begin to experience the true benefit of the Paleo diet – energy, health and genuine wellness.
What’s your experience with these Paleo superfoods? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to share this powerful article with your friends and family!