The top 10 super foods for raw vegan diet are those that are the most nutrient-dense. Consuming sufficient amounts of such foods enables one to sustain good health for as long as possible on a raw vegan regimen.
In thinking about the top 10 super foods for a raw vegan diet, I reflected on my own years of devotedly adhering to raw vegan diet and philosophy. For over 3 years, I explored the raw path without deviating.
Home-grown sprouts, fresh raw juices, fruits, dark green vegetables (like the raw wild Dandelion greens above), fermented seed butters, almonds and avocados were the mainstays of my diet.
Looking back in preparation for writing this article, I asked myself what I would do differently.
Top 10 Super Foods for Raw Vegan Diet: a Challenge to Choose...
I have given much thought to which foods should go on this top 10 super foods list.
Raw vegan diet is one of the more challenging diets to adhere to over a long period (more than 2 years), and maintain optimal health. The reason is that it generally takes a few years for stored fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamin A (many people do NOT convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A), minerals like magnesium and calcium held in the bones and teeth, and Vitamin B-12 to become depleted.
Typically, the initial year or so on this regimen is a revelation. Like most, I felt lighter, freer, cleaner and also had some rather interesting (for lack of a better word) spiritual experiences.
One must go through the 'honeymoon phase' of any regimen and then see if, years down the road, it stands the test of time.
During the 'honeymoon phase' of any new diet or supplement protocol, there is a tendency for the enraptured individual toward evangelical zeal. They become witnesses to the cause and with good intentions, try to convert everyone.
That was me...
As the 2 year mark approached and passed, I began to experience declining energy, physical weakness, and disconcerting digestive symptoms. This raised questions about the viability of a diet and philosophy to which I had been deeply committed.
Eventually, resistant though I was, I had to modify my diet. Adding denser foods, including those of animal origin, brought me back to solid health.
My experience pointed out that strict raw vegan diet has inescapable pitfalls because it is low or completely lacking in certain nutrients essential to peak health.
My purpose in this article is to choose a group of top 10 super foods for raw vegan diet that are richest in vitamins, minerals and other elements.
Raw Vegan Diet: How Would I Improve It Based on What I Know Now?
Looking back, I asked myself...
What foods would I now select as the top 10 super foods to eat more of? Answer: Almost everything listed below! Why? because they would have provided more protein and fat - which are in short supply in most vegan diets.
Less of? Answer: Citrus, without a doubt! Why? Erodes the teeth, too much sugar.
What foods would I include that weren't part of my own raw vegan diet? Chlorella! Why? Because no plant food on earth matches it for protein content, beneficial compounds such as lutein and detoxification capacity.
This list of top 10 super foods is the result of reflection, research and reevaluation.
At the conclusion of this page, are suggestions on how using a modest amount of (vegetable-based) products for supplementation can help your chances of achieving and maintaining optimal health on a raw vegan diet.
Raw Vegan Diet Top 10 Super Foods
Avocados: High in oleic acid (shown in studies to help prevent breast cancer and inhibit growth of prostate cancer) puts Avocados in the top 10 super foods category.
They also contain an abundance of lutein, important for eye and skin health. Folate, glutathione, beta-sitosterol and Vitamin E are added benefits of consuming avocados.
My Number One Pick for Top 10 Super Foods on ANY Diet...
Chlorella: With more health benefits than any other green food, Chlorella is a MUST if you are a vegan!
Properly grown Chlorella has a protein content of 60%, more lutein than marigold petals and more detox power than any other food on earth... just a few of its many significant health benefits.
This single-celled algae not only is one of the very best protein sources for vegan diet; it also contains vitamin B-12 in the form of methylcolbalamin. If you aspire to remain on a vegan diet for long, these two nutrients alone make Chlorella a highly desirable food!
One of the things that most concerns vegans is bodily detoxification.
Chlorella excels in this regard also. The cell walls, though indigestible, aggressively absorb toxins and carry them safely out of your body.
When properly grown and processed, Chlorella works in your digestive tract to bind and remove heavy metals and cancer-causing environmental toxins like PCB's and dioxins, preventing their re-absorption through the intestinal walls.
IMPORTANT: Be very cautious when buying Chlorella! If grown under anything less than pristine conditions in a controlled environment, Chlorella can bring heavy metals and other toxins INTO your body! This is because of its tremendous ability to capture and bind poisons.
In addition, you want to make sure it is grown outdoors. Without real sunlight, the fantastic health benefits of Chlorella are lost.
Olive Oil: If you adhere to a strict raw vegan diet, you CAN find a totally raw olive oil!
The vast majority of olive oils whose labels read,'first cold-pressed, extra virgin,'
Really raw first cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil confers significant health and anti-aging benefits. Research shows that polyphenols (plant compounds) in high-quality olive oil confer a multitude of health benefits.
In addition, top quality first cold-pressed olive oil contains a preponderance of healthy monounsaturated essential fatty acids (which don't go rancid easily like polyunsaturates, which dominate in nut and seed oils such as canola, sunflower and peanut oils.
Great olive oil also contains an abundance of omega-3's and...
chlorophyll (in varieties pressed from green olives)!
Iron, Vitamin A, tocopherols (forms of Vitamin E), balanced linoleic/oleic fatty acids and phytosterols (beneficial phenolic compounds found in plants) in raw olive oil all confer valued health benefits.
**There are many inferior oils that are represented as elite estate-grown gourmet quality. When choosing olive oil, be sure to look for RAW, first cold-pressed, extra virgin oil from a company that adheres to the highest standards of quality and integrity.
Chia Seeds: High in omega-3 essential fatty acids and 20 - 25% protein, these tiny seeds are a nutritional powerhouse for a raw vegan diet. They can simply be tossed with a salad and will soften, can be eaten as is and chewed well (very rich flavor), or grown into green sprouts in less than a week.
Raw Almonds: At their best (really raw, organically grown, non-irradiated and fresh, Almonds are among the top 10 super foods with a long list of benefits. Contain amino acids (protein building blocks), B-Vitamins, magnesium and other minerals. Almonds are not grown for greens, but rather soaked for a day or so, then eaten.
NOTE: Raw almonds are VERY difficult to obtain, due to new regulations that require them to be steam-sterilized AND/or fumigated with propylene oxide - a potential carcinogen and proven genotoxic (gene-altering) chemical. (Europe and Canada, among others, have already banned the use of propylene oxide for treating food for human consumption).
If you don't already know, almonds are (used to be?) a good source of vitamin B-17, from which Laetrile, powerful natural cancer fighter. Do you wonder about why this great food has been singled out for treatment that would destroy B-17? (All B-Vitamins are very heat-sensitive and the heat of steam sterilization would destroy B-17.
HOWEVER - you can fight back with the next item...
Apricot pits! Every time you eat an apricot, peach or plum, have a nutcracker handy and crack open the pit.
Inside, you will find a little kernel floating in tree sap, just LOADED with B-17! That kernel is very bitter, so you might want to chew it up with some of the fruit.
**Caution: don't eat too many of these kernels - just the ones that come with the fruit you eat. That will supply you with more than enough B-17. Another good source is apple pits.
Raw Pumpkin Seeds: Contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin E, B-complex, and most famously, an abundance of zinc. The mineral zinc is essential for prostate health, wound healing, and skin health.
Always make sure the nuts and seeds you buy are FRESH, like the plump, dark green ones on the right. Avoid yellowed, twisted, broken ones like the ones on the left!
On a raw vegan diet, pumpkin seeds are at their best as a 'soak.' They must be bought hulled - with the hard outer shell removed. Only buy them if they are green and plump.
Pumpkin seeds do NOT make good sprouts - will rot before they sprout. Just soak them for an hour or so, mix with a salad, and they taste great!
NOTE: If you are considering pumpkin seeds for one of your top 10 super foods, be careful of your source.
Virtually ALL pumpkin seeds, organic or not, are grown in China. I strongly suggest you find a source closer to home.
Basil: This is a great top 10 super foods pick - especially when you grow your own! When the basil plants are in their prime, I have been known to make big salads of just basil, red onion, olive oil and seasoning.
Health-protective benefits especially from volatile oils, which have been shown in lab studies to restrict growth of harmful bacteria including Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas (which, incidentally, are resistant to treatment with antibiotics).
Basil also contains many flavinoids. Two - orientin and vicenin are water soluble flavinoids that were shown to protect cell structures and chromosomes from radiation and oxidation.
Magnesium, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, iron and Vitamin C are other nutrients in basil.
A complex, rich, aromatic flavor makes basil a great addition to any diet.
Above, a basil plant I brought in from my garden. It survived the winter to live yet another summer outdoors. I brought it in once again for a second winter.
Organic or Low Spray Apples: Among fruits, apples are one of the top 10 super foods in part because of their low glycemic index along with many health benefits. High fiber, a source of pectin (which has some toxin-binding capacity) and of course they are delicious.
It is not easy to grow good apples without some pest control (a problem with all such tempting treats). There are many new natural pest controls that work very well, and some not-so natural ones that are very biodegradable.
Because molds and fungi are more prolific on totally unsprayed apples, you may actually be better off with carefully grown low-spray fruit.
Choose carefully the source of your apples. If you can find an apple orchard that grows heirloom varieties and has a 'pick-your-own' program, you will be in heaven! Golden Russet, York Imperial (one of my favorites that makes up for the fact that you can't find Red Delicious that taste the way they did 20 years ago), Arkansas Black and other old varieties will add depth to your diet.
Fresh Blueberries in season: Blueberries can be frozen for later use. Picking your own and freezing some will give you the tastiest and most nutritious berries, full of antioxidants.
Sunflower Greens: Un-hulled black oil sunflower seeds are the ones to use for greens. These are grown in trays with 2" soil and take 10 - 14 days to mature. Rich in chlorophyll and magnesium, they also contain modest amounts of calcium, phosphorus and iron. Vitamin E, B-Vitamins and 25% protein are also part of their nutritional profile.
The Two Supplements I Would Add to Top 10 Super Foods on a Vegan Diet
If you are a dedicated vegan, this suggestion may go against the view that you can get all protein needs met with nuts, fruits and vegetables. You may be among the very few who can, but the majority of us cannot maintain body mass and prevent catabolism (muscle wasting) on a vegan diet.
If someone had said that to me back when I was a vegan, I would have dismissed it. Vegan diet should not include any supplements - or so I thought.