I've been really into superfoods for some time now. While researching unique and uncommon ones I came across a great article by Tim Ferriss via Huffington Post! Check out these uncommon superfoods from the world of ultra-endurance!
Natto: A popular fermented soybean food prominent in the Japanese diet, natto is a must for anyone concerned about heart or circulatory disease. High in pyrazine and the enzyme nattokinase, blood thinners that can prevent thrombosis (blot clot formations) by essentially devouring arterial plaque, natto significantly reduces the risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism (arterial blockage) that could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Cordyceps (Sinensis) Extracts: Well-known for centuries in Chinese herbal medicine, Cordyceps sinensis is a parasitic dried fungus that grows on caterpillar larvae native to high-altitude regions of China, Nepal and Tibet. Pretty nasty, but awesome when it comes to health and athletic performance. Pharmacologically anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-lipid (cholesterol lowering), studies indicate enhanced immune system functionality as well as improved stamina in endurance athletes.
Turmeric: Anti-Oxidant/Anti-Inflammatory (aka badass). A plant native to South India and Indonesia, if you like curry or mustard, you’re already familiar with this yellow food. What you might not know is that turmeric, due in large part to curcumin, turmeric’s primary active ingredient — is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories on the planet.
Apricot Seeds & Sprouted Mung Beans: Cancer Cell Inhibition. Both of these foods share one thing in common: high levels of laetrile (vitamin B17), which has been found effective in arresting tumor growth. But how does it kill cancer cells without killing healthy cells? Without getting too technical, there is some evidence to support that when laetrile comes into contact with an enzyme called beta-glucosidase (which is only found in cancer cells), the laetrile is broken down, releasing “manufactured” hydrogen cyanide (HCN), which attacks the cancerous cell. Normal cells remain unaffected because of the mitochondrial enzyme rhodanase, which detoxifies the cyanide component. Cancer cells lack this enzyme. Might not be the cure for cancer but definitely a PREVENTATIVE measure.
Green Coffee Beans: Fat loss. Similar to green tea and grape seed extract, organic raw (green) coffee beans have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties effective in combating free radical damage. Benefits in weight management are due to two active compounds, caffeine (lower in green beans) and chlorogenic acid (which is destroyed by roasting). The caffeine releases fatty acids into the bloodstream from stored body fat, while the chlorogenic acid increases efficiency of metabolizing these fats while inhibiting sugar (glucose) absorption by the blood stream.
Elk Antler Velvet: Testosterone Booster. For the boys (& ladies) Elk antler velvet isn’t just the “fuzz” growing on the animal’s antler, it’s derived from the whole cartilaginous affair, which is removed from the animal (humanely), dried and ground into a powder (predominantly in Canada and New Zealand). Due to growth proteins called Insulin-like Growth Factors, this “velvet” creates an endogenous increase in testosterone production, increasing in the body’s ability to naturally and rapidly regenerate tissue
Suma Root: Adaptogen; The 4 Ginseng Blend. Adaptogens are metabolic regulators that increase the body’s ability to – for lack of a better phrase — adapt to environmental stressors, both physical and emotional. Suma is a ginseng-like adaptogen extracted from a root native to Brazil that is linked to improved immune system functionality and hormonal regulation. Combine with (American) ginseng, Ashwaganda (Indian ginseng), and Eleutherococcus (Siberian ginseng) to create a potent combination that promotes longevity and stress management — normalizing and balancing emotional and physical energy levels.
Camu Camu: The happy superfood. A sour lemon-sized orange-purple fruit indigenous to Amazonian lowlands, camu camu contains an impressive array of phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals like beta-carotene and potassium. Most importantly, camu camu boasts the highest natural vitamin C density of any food on the planet, anywhere from 20-50 times the level of vitamin C in a typical orange, and scores extremely high on the “ORAC” (“oxygen radical absorbance capacity”) scale, a method of quantifying the anti-oxidant capacities of biological samples. Camu camu also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and facilitates the uptake of serotonin.
Moringa: Dubbed the “miracle tree” and the “world’s most nutritious plant species ever studied,” this amazing tree is native to regions of Africa/Asia but can grow almost anywhere due to its incredible ability to extract nutrients from the soil and air. Its leaves are an all-around green superfood; with more than 90 nutrients, moringa is like a utility baseball player that can excel in every position. High in a wide array of vitamins and minerals it’s anti-oxidant rich (46 anti-oxidants), anti-diabetes (reduces blood glucose) and promotes heart health (lipid lowering) among other benefits
Pu-erh Tea: Its leaves derived from trees upwards of 1,700 years old. A post-fermented tea product produced in the Yunnan province of China and carefully aged, the harvesting, creation and ceremony of Pu-erh is an art steeped in preserved tradition dating back to millennia. But what makes Pu-erh truly unique is the process by which the leaves are fermented by microbes after drying and then aged. It is believed that the microbial activity in the tea provides probiotic health benefits unique Pu-erh, such as reducing arterial plaque and LDL cholesterol levels as well as aiding in weight loss by reducing blood sugar levels and improving the body’s ability to metabolize fat.
Image of Lithe Instructor Elizabeth Tomkins via Lauren