Superfoods sounds like a term that should be applied to something magical, a food beyond our human realm. In reality, it’s a generic term applied to any food that has supposedly remarkable benefits.

In my opinion, fruits and vegetables in general are super foods. They’re whole, pure, unprocessed packages of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and something called phytonutrients. Superfoods go beyond that, though. These types of foods are incredibly nutrient-dense, often in very small servings. Superfoods are often a bit to quite expensive, so I don’t they’re a necessary part of a healthy diet. However, I think they can play an important role in an already healthy diet. Read on to learn more about some of my favorite superfoods.  Most of these superfoods can be found in any health food store.

Raw cacao, the basis of chocolate products, has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea. Raw cacao has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world! There is a link between cocoa and cardiovascular health, with reduced risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks. Cacao also appears to have anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties, not to mention it’s a good source of the minerals magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and manganese, plus some of the B Vitamins. Use it in smoothies, healthy desserts, and savory sauces.

Maca, a root vegetable, from Peru, is consider an adaptogen. Adaptogens enable the body to enhance its power of resistance and adapt to external conditions. As an adaptogen, maca works broadly to contribute to overall well being. It nourishes and calms the nerves with calcium, phosphorus, vitamins B1 and B12 , and fatty acids, all of which work beneficially on the nervous system. Maca also stimulates the appetite and aids in digestion. At the same time it supports the adrenal glands so they don't have to rely on damaging corticol to fuel the body. Its sterols, calcium, and vitamin C help build muscle mass and its starches aid in physical endurance. Its alkaloids help the body assimilate all these nutrients just where they are required. It’s been known to greatly increase energy and libido! Use in smoothies or sprinkled over salads or steamed vegetables.

Chia Seeds (yes, the basis of those silly, 70s gifts!) are high in fiber, so they help clear out the large intestine, helping with digestion, and they make you feel fuller longer, helping decrease food cravings, weight loss, and appetite control. It’s high in protein and a plant source of omega 3 fats. Chia seeds can be eaten raw, added to smoothies, or made into a pudding, by blending 1 banana, a small handful of fresh or frozen berries, and 1 cup of your favorite type of milk. You can also add a spoonful of raw cacao powder if you would like. In a bowl, pour blended mixture over 1/4 cup chia seeds and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer, until it reaches your desired consistency. You can top the pudding with more fresh fruit or unsweetened coconut flakes.

Acai is a berry we all heard a lot about a few years ago. It was being promoted as a wonder food. While I don’t believe its any kind of panacea, the acai berry's natural antioxidant properties do help promote general well-being, boost energy, stamina and mental acuity levels. It can also have a positive effect on cholesterol, the digestive system and may even increase your sex drive.

Bee pollen, sometimes called the perfect food, is another favorite, and increasingly easy to find. Called the perfect food because it contains more than 96 different nutrients, including every single nutrient that is needed to sustain human life. It is made up of 40% protein, nearly all of it usable by the body without any further breakdown or metabolism. Bee pollen combines 22 amino acids, vitamin C, B-complex and folic acid, polyunsaturated fatty acids, enzymes, and carotene - all of the major antioxidants that have so far been discovered.In addition, bee pollen benefits your body with a number of vital trace elements that it can't manufacture, but needs in order to stay healthy. Those trace elements include iron, zinc, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, and potassium - all minerals that have proven health benefits. Pollen can be added to smoothies, eaten raw, or used in healthy desserts.