Last Updated: Jan 15, 2016
Looking for more top superfoods? This is our secondary list of supreme foods, herbs and powders to give you some more options when searching for a specific superfood unique to your personal health goals. The major concept behind any top superfood is that small amounts go a long way with much more nutrition condensed down into a spoonful of extract or cup of decocted tea.
The assorted superfoods on this list were selected with the intent to further assist the average modern day person living in today's fast paced world.
As problems associated with adrenal fatigue, vitamin-mineral depletion, low sex drive as well as digestive and/or liver stagnation are becoming more and more prevalent across the general population, sometimes it is necessary to look to some of the best natural remedies and truly use the foods you eat as your medicinal allies.
Some of the superfoods mentioned below are adaptogens that work to revitalize deep energies, restore
endocrine functions and promote cleansing effects, while others are
antioxidant-rich nutritional supplements for boosting both immune and neurological systems.
In addition to maintaining a health promoting diet and lifestyle, sometimes adding in a few simple, yet profound, top superfoods is just what your body may need to rebuild and re-establish complete and total health. Moreover, as we age in chronological years, it is particularly important that we keep up good lifestyle habits that assist and promote a lively disease-free existence.
This list is for those inspired to continue taking your health to the next level with some really powerful plant-based alternatives to help you attain this objective.
Many of these tonics, mushrooms and herbs can be conveniently used in the form of extracts or concentrates that work extremely well for dropping into drinks, smoothies and shakes throughout your day.
As with our list of top 10 superfoods, some might especially call out to you, while others might be less important for your own unique situation. We always suggest using both logic and intuition as your guide to finding the best foods that work with your own individual body type and range of health conditions.
Astragalus is a Chinese "Chi (Qi) tonic" herb known for its energizing qualities. Decocted teas and hot water extracts are tonifying to the lung and spleen, the two major systems with direct energy converting functions, transforming the oxygen we breathe and the food we consume into life energy. Astragalus root helps to support metabolism, strengthen the musculature, guard against adrenal burn out and can be extremely useful for those who are physically active.
When used on a regular basis, it is also known for its positive effects as a immune enhancing adaptogen, the root pieces can be simmered to release beneficial polysaccharides, triterpenoid saponins and consumed as a tea. Alternatively, it can also be taken as an liquid or powdered hot water extract and is additionally helpful for providing a quick, yet nourishing, energy for fatigued individuals.
It is significantly important in today's modern world to take a list of superfoods that help to build and maintain a strong immune defense system and this unusual looking medicinal mushroom variety is one of the best around for achieving this goal.
Chaga mushroom contains a potent source of immune supporting beta-glucan polysaccharides and very high amounts of certain antioxidants, including melanin and superoxide dismutase (SOD) as well as triterpenes, inotodiol and lupeol. It is also gaining recognition around the world for its ability to potentially inhibit abnormal tumorous growths. This is believed to be due to certain anti-mutagenic compounds like betulinic acid which it concentrates in high amounts from birch bark.
Chaga is naturally detoxifying to the body and protects against the potentially damaging
effects of radiation or other toxic substances found in the environment
around us. It is on our top superfoods list as a #1 mushroom for those suffering from autoimmune disorders or chronic inflammation. As with other tonics and herbs, it can be used as bulk mushroom simmered
(decocted) in water or otherwise consumed as a liquid, powder or
encapsulated hot water extract, plus a pure mycelium powder.
Soaked chia seeds blended into foods and drinks are very hydrating to the body, soothing to the digestive tract and encourage regular healthy bowel movements. Chia is a nourishing endurance food that time releases nutrients and provides a long burning fuel source for being physically active. The fibrous seeds have a natural cleansing effect and are often considered a beneficial superfood for reducing unwanted body weight.
Chia is a tiny seed, but when soaked in water swells up to 10-12 times its original size, similar to flax seeds, creating a gelatinous seedy gel that can be blended and used in shakes, desserts, smoothies, porridge and puddings.
The seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and are a source of complete protein, minerals and vitamins, especially calcium and boron. Although soaking chia seeds before use is recommended, they can also be used as a powder or whole seed particularly when added to recipes with a high water content.
Schizandra berries, made as a tea or consumed as an extract, are one of the most popular sexual tonics known in TCM for rejuvenating kidney vigor and sex drive in both men and women, effectively increasing circulation as well as libido. Also recognized for its energy stimulating effects, as well as adaptogenic qualities, it is a major tonic restorative for nerve debilitation, chronic fatigue and adrenal exhaustion.
Additionally, it is used by professional athletes to improve physical stamina and skill in competitive sports activities and is viewed as one of the best superfoods for those who run or jog for exercise.
The berries are a blood purifier and liver cleanser, useful as a "beauty tonic" for promoting youthful, supple skin. It is also a powerful rejuvenating fruit for the eyesight, known to increase range of vision and clear the eyes of redness. Used for treating liver disease (hepatitis), it helps to protect the liver from poisons with shielding effects due primarily to antioxidants and lignan components found in the seeds of the berries.
Although schizandra is a berry, it is typically not eaten straight by the handful, but is traditionally brewed as a tonic tea which helps to release many of the beneficial constituents.
Pine pollen is well known these days in the "superfood world" as a nutritive adaptogen tonic powder collected from various pine tree species and consumed as a dietary supplement. Containing both testosterone and DHEA, as well as naturally increasing the antioxidants glutathione and superoxide dismutase, pine pollen can be extremely helpful for boosting both immune and endocrine functions.
It is notably top on the list of superfoods for its ability to help balance androgen and estrogen hormones. The pollen is considerably more potent as an extract when taken for these purposes and is specifically useful for middle aged adults, between 40-50, and the hormonal fluctuations that occur as we age. Both men, as well as women, usually by the age of 50 produce significantly less testosterone, this is especially true after male andropause and female menopause.
Moreover, we are all subject to toxins in the environment that produce estrogen like qualities linked to a number of health conditions like fertility issues, benign fibroid growths and breast cancer. Consuming androgenic foods, like pine pollen, can help to balance these higher amounts of xenoestrogens.
The moringa tree and its leaves have been valued for centuries in various parts of the world as a highly nourishing dietary food source. The whole leaf powder is essentially a natural plant-based mineral, amino acid and multivitamin complex with an impressive array of nutritive components, extensively researched for its polyphenol content, antioxidant properties and usefulness as a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
The leaves are harvested and steamed as a green vegetable, but are also dried and ground into a powder used in sauces, soups and cooked grains.
Adding some kind of concentrated green powdered supplement to the diet on a regular basis can be extremely beneficial to short term as well as long term health. While moringa is extremely effective at balancing general nutritional uptake, the ground leaf powder is also one of our top recommended options for malnourished individuals and has been used extensively in impoverished countries for such purposes.
Cordyceps mushroom is prized in Chinese herbalism as immune modulating, energy enhancing adaptogen known to revitalize the sex glands and reproductive system. It is essentially considered a potent aphrodisiac and top tonic superfood for increasing one's sex drive. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is also recognized to be particularly nourishing to the lungs and kidneys, encouraging recovery from adrenal depletion and helpful for increasing oxygen utilization.
Cordyceps contains immune supporting polysaccharides, like beta-glucans and the antitumor inhibiting CO-1, plus the compound called "cordycepin." It is a top medicinal mushroom often prescribed for kidney yin deficiency, along with fo-ti root, and is commonly referenced as a "kidney jing tonic", working with both the adrenals as well as the sex gland functions.
Shilajit is a mineral substance, often used in powder form, and contains triterpenes, humic acid, selenium, phospholipids, over 85 minerals and is extremely high in the hard to get nutrient called fulvic acid. Although it is not technically an "herb", it is classified among the top Ayurvedic herbs as a "rasayana" and immune regulating, anti-stress tonic. It is additionally a powerful antioxidant-rich superfood for its detoxifying as well as revitalizing qualities.
One of the richest sources of fulvic acid as well as other minerals and elements commonly depleted in our soils today, shilajit contains between an average of 40-60% fulvic acid and can be a great way to replenish mineral deficiency. Fulvic and humic acids are two constituents naturally present in soil that has not been over depleted of nutrients due to topsoil over-cultivation.
We need the minerals from the foods we eat to assimilate other vitamins and nutrients. Plants get minerals from the soil and transfer them to us when we consume them. However, today it is much more challenging to get the required amount from store bought produce and foods, it is therefore recommended to add in some kind of high quality mineral supplementation to the diet on a regular basis. Shilajit is one of those options and also works to detoxify and neutralize environmental toxins we are commonly exposed to on a daily basis.
As a concentrated source of the liver protecting flavonoid
antioxidant called silymarin, milk thistle seeds are a well established herbal superfood for detoxifying and regenerating the liver organ, often recommended by herbalist throughout the ages for conditions like psoriasis, jaundice, hepatitis and cirrhosis. The liver is the master detoxifier and blood purifier largely responsible for the condition of all other systems and it is important that we include some herbs and foods in the diet that help to keep it functioning properly.
The seeds act as a natural laxative by increasing bile production helpful for the break down of excess fat potentially accumulating in the body as well as the liver. Milk thistle seeds can therefore be a useful dietary supplement for those consuming fatty rich foods, animal protein and dairy products on a regular basis. The hard seeds are not consumed whole but as a powder, tea, tincture or standardized extract.
Panax ginseng is top on the supefoods list of major tonic herbs and has been one of the most valued roots used in the history of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ginseng can be consumed by both men and women, but it is often promoted as a male tonic adaptogen. Referred to as the ultimate "chi tonic", it is famous for its energy restoring and strength building properties. Root extracts or teas are naturally stimulating to the body as well as nourishing to both the endocrine and central nervous system.
Asian ginseng has the reputation for being a "male tonic herb" because of its effects at increasing testosterone levels and improving blood flow to the sex organs and glands, both of which are known to enhance libido.
There are many different varieties of ginseng, but all true ginseng's come from the Panax genus. All types are adaptogenic in nature and help the body to "adapt" to stress, fatigue, anxiety and daily stress factors coming from the external environmental influences and/or internal imbalance. The main health-supporting constituents found in ginseng root are called ginsenosides (or panaxosides). This is a class of steroid glycosides and triterpene saponins, compounds of which are shown to be responsible for ginseng's mental, sexual and strength promoting qualities.
Turmeric root, a common East Indian curry ingredient, is one of the most extensively researched herbs in the scientific health field and shown to offer a potent source of antioxidant-rich compounds, like curcumin, as well as antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties. Consuming turmeric root is a simple and effective way to re-boost immune health and keep us free of disease and sickness. Other evidence suggests its specific usefulness as an anti-inflammatory, helpful as an herbal remedy for aches, muscle soreness, digestive disorders and combating infections.
One of the age old uses of turmeric root was as a digestive bitter specifically used as carminative for alleviating indigestion, relieving gastrointestinal upset, gas and bloating. Moreover, turmeric is a liver cleanser and blood tonic, naturally high in iron content with blood building properties especially good for anemic individuals. It is commonly used as a powder added to foods but can also be taken in extract form.
Rhodiola is a tonic root commonly taken as an extract or herbal tea. It is particularly well known for its ability to reduce the secretion of cortisol, the "stress hormone", and is a top herbal aid for relieving daily stress and anxiety. Useful as a restorative herb for treating adrenal fatigue, it has also been shown to help effectively alleviate conditions such as insomnia and depression.
In addition, rhodiola also benefits the body as a revitalizing energizer and brain tonic, well documented for its capacity to increase mental alertness and concentration skills. It is an often recommended top natural stimulant and nourishing tea for overworked individuals or those who sit at a desk or do computer work for extended periods of time. The root is furthermore helpful for increasing our ability to analyze, evaluate, plan and remember as well as the capacity to concentrate and focus.
Golden berries are a unique South American fruit species native to areas of Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. Producing shiny orange-yellow fruit the size of a marble, golden berries are a popular dried superfruit variety known for their higher amounts of antioxidants, carotenoids and polyphenol content.
Also called groundcherries, cape gooseberries or Incan berries, they also contain unique plant compounds referred to as "withanolides", well researched for their immune modulating activities and anti-inflammatory attributes.
Golden berries are a great source of plant-based vitamin C and are another superfruit variety to consider adding to your diet to help increase daily intake. The dried berries have a thick wrinkly skin with a chewy interior and a tart mildly sweet flavor, similar to the kumquat fruit. They are a delicious snack food eaten like raisins, or can be incorporated into a number of drinks or desserts.