By Josette Curtis, UCCS Nutrition Senior
One of today’s hottest nutrition buzzwords is “superfood.” Dr. Oz loves to talk about superfoods. Self-styled nutrition experts love to talk about superfoods. And food marketers REALLY love to talk about superfoods. Want to sell something, or sound like you’ve discovered the next great cure-all? Mention superfoods!
Let’s go back a few steps and start by defining this term. A superfood is any natural food with large quantities of phytochemicals and benefits beyond regular nutrition. For example, citrus fruits contain high quantities of vitamin C. But the little-known camu berry, which resembles a cherry and grows on shrubs native to the Amazon, contains 200 times more vitamin C than a banana and 50-60 times more than an orange. As such, the camu berry can be considered a vitamin C superfood. Another example is cacao powder. We are increasingly realizing that most Americans are deficient in magnesium, and dark chocolate is touted as an excellent (and tasty!) way to boost daily magnesium intake. But raw cacao powder – unsweetened, unprocessed – is one of the highest sources of magnesium available and can be considered a magnesium superfood.
Because many superfoods are not native to the United States, they tend to be costlier than everyday fruits and vegetables. In my estimation, the best / most cost-effective way to add superfoods to your diet is to purchase them in powdered form. They last longest this way, and because drying also concentrates the nutrients, a very small amount is all you need to reap the benefits. Some excellent websites for purchasing superfood powders include amazon.com, thrivemarket.com, and vitacost.com. Several of these offer discounts if you purchase regularly using their auto-ship programs.
Now that you’ve picked a few superfood supplements to try and they’ve arrived at your front door, what do you actually DO with them? My favorite way is to incorporate them in superfood smoothies. Take a regular smoothie – liquid base, some greens, some fruit – add a few sprinkles of your favorite superfood supplement, and voilá! You’ve boosted your nutrition intake exponentially for just a few extra cents per serving.
Here’s a list of some wonderful superfoods to try, what nutrient(s) they contain, and which flavors they pair best with.
To get you started, here are two of my favorite smoothie recipes (both adapted from Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris). Just blend all ingredients together in a large blender jar. Each makes one generous serving (but can easily be shared!).
Peaches & Cream Red Velvet
1 ½ cups frozen sliced peaches ¼ cup roasted beets
½ frozen banana 2 Tbsp dried white mulberries
1 ½ tsp goji berries 1 ½ tsp cacao powder
1 cup milk of choice ½ cup milk of choice
1 ½ tsp lemon juice 1 cup ice
¼ tsp vanilla extract 1 ½ tsp maple syrup (as needed)
The above superfood list is by no means exhaustive – there are many more superfoods out there, just waiting for you to discover and add to your smoothie routine. The beauty of smoothies is that you can’t really mess them up. Use this guide as a starting point to inspire your creativity. Turn smoothie making into a game – see how many hard-to-find nutrients you can fit into one delicious, good-for-you beverage, and drink to your health!
For additional information on all the different types of superfoods, read more at superfoods-for-superhealth.com.
 Dr. Margaret Harris, Fall 2016 Herbal and Dietary Supplements course, “Superfoods” lecture.
 Chlorella and spirulina are the two most common algae supplements. Because they are ocean algae, they can have a very pronounced “ocean” flavor – start with very small quantities until you acclimate to the taste!