Superfoods are whole foods that are antioxidant-rich, minimally processed and nutrient dense. They don’t have to be hard to find, exotic items sourced from South America. My top 5 superfoods can be found in most grocery stores and if consumed often can help create a healthy gut. Here they are, all equally important:
- Leafy Greens
- Hemp & Chia Seeds
- Cilantro (or parsley)
Dark greens, such as kale, collards, spinach and bok choy, are filled with antioxidants and polyphenols. Both feed our “good” gut bacteria. This helps strengthen our microbiome as well and reduces inflammation, cancer risk and heart disease.
Low-FODMAP Serving Size: 1+ cups of kale, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, butter lettuce, spinach and swiss chard.
How to Eat: Enjoy 1-2 servings of steamed or sautéed leafy greens every day. Try this Kale, Potato and Sausage Soup from Fun Without FODMAPS.
Hemp & Chia Seeds
These seeds are small but potent. Both are rich in omega-3 fats that reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. Hemp also contains gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) which can alleviate skin disorders and may be helpful in weight loss. Both contain fiber to feed a healthy gut and reduce blood sugar surges as well as high sources of plant protein. On ounce of hemp seeds provides 9 grams of protein!
Low-FODMAP Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons chia and hemp seeds.
How to Eat: Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of hemp seeds on a salad, over berries or roasted vegetables. I also make a low-FODMAP hemp “Feta” cheese with 1 cup of hemp seeds.
Before eating chia seeds try soaking them, you can add them to baked goods, puddings, smoothie bowls or as a binder in meatloaf. To soak chia, mix 1/4 cup of chia seeds in 1.5 cups of water in a glass container. Secure with a tight lid and shake well. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Try this delicious low-FODMAP Vanilla Maple Chia seed pudding from a fellow dietitian.
Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are all antioxidant-polyphenol rich low-FODMAP choices. They provide similar benefits as dark leafy greens as mentioned above, most notably diversifying our gut bacteria. For example, wild blueberries have increases bifidobacteria in the gut, which, in abundant amounts, has been shown to alleviate gas, bloating and pain in IBS. Regardless of the benefits, berries are delicious.
Low-FODMAP Serving: 20 blueberries, 10 raspberries, 10 strawberries. Blackberries and boysenberries are not low-FODMAP.
How to Eat: Eat 1-2 low-FODMAP serving per day. I prefer to eat fresh berries drizzled with coconut butter and sprinkled with cacao nibs. If you are looking for a treat try a Strawberry Crumble from Karlijns Kitchen.
Cilantro or (Parsley)
Fresh cilantro, or coriander as it is called in the UK, is high in antioxidants, can settle an upset stomach and has antibacterial and anti fungal properties. It can safely detoxify the body by chelating, or binding to heavy metals.
If you don’t like the taste of cilantro try parsley. It isn’t as potent as cilantro but provides similar benefits.
Low-FODMAP Serving: No detectable FODMAP so enjoy in abundance.
How to Eat: I eat cilantro (or parsley) every day and recommend you do as well. The easiest way to consume this potent herb is to make a cilantro pesto which can be served with vegetables, baked potatoes or roasted meats. Try these Eggplant Rounds with Cilantro Pesto from My Gut Feeling.
Kefir is a fermented milk popular in Eastern Europe that can restoring healthy gut flora. Kefir cultures at room temperature and can colonize the digestive tract unlike yogurt which is transient. Kefir contains many more strains of bacteria than yogurt and is also easier to digest.
I personally prefer goat’s milk kefir and find it easier to digest. Goat’s milk has smaller fat globules and A2 casein, a protein most similar to human breast milk. It has comparable amounts of lactose as cow’s milk but when cultured with kefir grains, lactose is reduced about 99%. If you are lactose intolerant you still may be able to tolerate regular kefir. If not, lactose free kefir is available by Green Valley Organics in the USA.
Low-FODMAP Serving: 1 cup lactose free kefir. Regular kefir is not low-FODMAP due to lactose but it may be tolerated up to 1/4 cup serving.
How to Eat: I recommend 4-6 ounces per day, preferably first thing in the morning or before bed. If you drink it before bed it has the potential to contribute to deeper sleep. Blend a cup of plain kefir with 1/4 cup of berries and a dash of cinnamon for a refreshing drink.
Wishing you a happy gut!