by Gregory Luna
Superfoods are foods and drinks that pack the most powerful nutritional punch. They are high in nutrients and provide big benefits to the body. Here are four paleo-friendly snacks that are easy to purchase, relatively inexpensive and extremely satisfying to the body.
Nuts (and seeds) are the preeminent snack of the paleo world. They are high in healthy fats, and our bodies are evolutionarily meant to consume them. Macadamia nuts are the king of the nuts. They are low in carbs and proteins but high in beneficial fats. In particular, Macadamia nuts are almost 80 percent monounsaturated fats, which are the best fats to ingest. They are also chock-full of omega-9 fatty acids, manganese, copper and very low in the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, most insidiously found in industrial-grade vegetable oils. Macadamia oil and butter is fantastic as well.
Green, black and white teas all come from the Camellia Sinensis plant traditionally grown in China and India. Black tea is derived from the plant when it is fully grown, green tea when it is an adult and white tea when it is young. This correlates with the taste with black being stronger in caffeine and taste and white being the lightest. Regardless of the color, the Camellia plant teas have been the subject of numerous studies touting their benefits. First of all, they are lower in caffeine than coffee, so palpitations and jitteriness shouldn’t be an issue. The teas also are full of catechins, flavonoids and polyphenols, anti-oxidants that fight against oxidative stress, which can lead to accelerated aging and even some forms of cancer. Further, they can lower cardiovascular issues by reducing blood pressure and LDL (bad cholesterol) plaque buildup; they also have an anti-microbial effect.
Chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, which mostly is grown in West Africa and South America. Milk chocolate is largely a sham because cocoa is the third ingredient behind sugar and milk and holds very little benefit. Dark chocolate removes the milk and lowers the sugar. The percentage in dark chocolate is determined by the amount of sugar in it. For example, 60 percent dark chocolate may have up to 15-20 grams of sugar per serving, while 90 percent may have only 5 grams. Since sugar is an indicator for all metabolic diseases (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) and cancers, the most beneficial dark chocolate is higher on the percentage scale (85-90 percent). Similar to tea, it is full of polyphenols, catechins and flavonoids. It also abounds in saturated fat—good fats that your body needs.
Most fruits are nutrient-dense and quite refreshing. You may believe that it’s OK to consume unlimited amounts of fruits and vegetables. That’s general true for vegetables, but not so much for fruits. Fruits can be high in fructose, nature’s sugar, which can initiate an insulin response. This is why the ideal fruits are high in nutrients and low in sugar, which is why berries are an ideal fruit. The “Big 3” in the berry category are blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, which are all high in fiber. They also contain anthocyanins, antioxidants that may protect against gastrointestinal cancer, and manganese, a mineral important for bone health. Vitamin C is also plentiful. It’s important to buy these berries from an organic or local grower who doesn’t use pesticides; these three berries produced by large non-organic growers can be high in pesticides.
Gregory Luna is a San Antonio-based certified health coach, wellness writer and moderator of the podcast Confessions of an Obese Child. He is also founder of Integravita Wellness (www.integravita.com). He focuses his practice on naturopathic and holistic approaches to weight loss and overall psychological and physical wellness. His articles run the gamut from paleo/primal-centric nutrition and exercise to food toxin awareness and biohacking.