The term ‘superfoods’ has recently grown in popularity, and more people are looking to include some of these foods in their regular diets.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, while there’s no specific definition for it, a superfood is any food that fulfills three main criteria:
- Offers significant quantities of nutrients needed by the body
- Can help prevent or cure specific diseases
- Provides several health benefits aside from high-quality nutrients
Typically, whole vegan foods (especially fruits and veggies) are nutritious and promote good health.
However, a superfood offers a quantity and variety of nutrients often impossible to obtain from a single food item.
Thanks to their nutritional value, adding certain superfoods to your diet can significantly improve your health. And if you’re not sure where to get started, we’ve compiled a list of the best vegan superfoods to add to your diet.
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Best Vegan Superfoods
Here we’ve provided a comprehensive list of some vegan superfoods and their nutrients. You don’t have to start consuming all these foods immediately; even adding three or four items to your diet can work wonders for your health.
Lentein is one of the newest innovations in the food and beverage industry and is set to take the fitness world by storm. This superfood is primarily available in the form of protein powder and is derived from the world’s smallest flowering plant, the Lemnaceae (water lentils, duckweed).
Lentein is probably the most protein-rich ingredient on the planet, offering up to 50% raw protein that the body can easily digest. Additionally, lentein is a complete protein source, containing significant quantities of each essential amino acid.
Aside from being protein-rich, lentein also offers a host of macro and micronutrients to the body. These include omega-3, iron, calcium, beta-carotene, fiber, specific vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants.
Spirulina is another superfood that will elevate your physical and mental health significantly. This seaweed is packed with protein, B vitamins, copper, iron, magnesium, and several antioxidants.
Spirulina is another underrated superfood that can offer significant health benefits to those who consume it.
Most people consume roughly three to four tablets of spirulina a day. So while 65% of spirulina is protein, the quantity you can consume is limited, and this food should be considered a rich source of other vital nutrients.
As a dietary supplement, few foods can compare to the nutritional benefits of consuming spirulina. However, you must consume spirulina from an organic, clean source as these algae are grown in ponds and prone to contamination if not properly cultured.
Kale is a leafy green veggie, not unlike spinach in both appearance and texture.
Calcium, potassium, antioxidants, vitamins A, K, and C, and a few trace minerals can be found in every serving of kale.
Kale also contains a significant quantity of omega-3 acids, essential for healthy brain function.
Kale works wonders on your cardiovascular health thanks to its diverse nutrient profile and helps support healthy skin, hair, eyes, and bones.
Sauerkraut is a fancy term for finely cut cabbage fermented by certain types of bacteria. Thanks to its preparation and fermentation, sauerkraut is known to provide its consumers with several health benefits.
This food helps boost immunity, prevent certain cancers, and reduce stress. However, the most important reason to consume sauerkraut is the presence of probiotics and vitamin K2, both of which can be difficult to obtain from other sources.
Thanks to these nutrients, sauerkraut aids in improving overall digestive health.
5. Hemp Hearts
Hemp is the fitness industry’s new poster child, with health experts and nutritionists touting several benefits of products made from this ingredient. Hemp is used to make vegan protein powders, flour, butter, oil, and several other ingredients used in cooking.
However, to experience the benefits of hemp without having to learn how to cook with it, consider investing in hemp hearts.
Hemp hearts have a slightly nutty taste, and you can sprinkle them on your salads, smoothies, or cereal before eating. While they contain several micronutrients, omega-3 is the most significant nutrient offered by hemp hearts.
With its rich quantity of healthy fats, hemp hearts are good for your hair and skin and can help regulate brain function and mood.
6. Goji Berries
Goji berries contain more than eighteen amino acids, including all the essential ones. As such, these berries can aid in the repair of muscle tissue, and it’s ideal to consume them immediately after an intense workout.
These berries are also rich in minerals, including iron, copper, zinc, and potassium, giving your body a significant quantity of these much-needed nutrients.
7. Chia Seeds
It may seem like a large meal contains more nutrition, but sometimes, it’s the most miniature foods that pack the necessary nutrients.
Take chia seeds, for example. They’re so tiny that they can be challenging to see with the naked eye.
However, chia seeds are a rich source of various nutrients, including calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Most importantly, chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, and daily consumption can significantly improve hair and skin health. Omega-3 is also responsible for cognitive function, mood regulation, and energy output.
8. Brazil Nuts
Most nuts and seeds provide a host of nutrients to the human body. And the more diverse your consumption, the more likely you are to meet your body’s nutritional requirements.
Brazil nuts offer plenty of monounsaturated fats (good fats), which aid brain and bone health. However, they also provide adequate quantities of minerals like zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and some B vitamins.
But perhaps the most important reason to consume this vegan superfood is that it provides the body with selenium, a nutrient that can be difficult to obtain from most foods. Selenium is essential for a healthy immune system and is known to protect nerves and cells from damage.
9. Cacao Beans
Cacao is the base ingredient used in producing all types of chocolate. And while everyone loves the taste of chocolate, cacao can take some getting used to.
It comes with a pretty bitter taste that is the base for all dark chocolates, and if you’re used to eating regular chocolate, this may be difficult to consume at first. However, cacao is known for producing significant changes in certain bodily activities that can help improve health. Some include:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing the risk of diabetes
- Potassium helps relieve muscle cramps
- Decreased inflammation in the muscles and joints
Spinach is a well-known superfood that most people (hopefully) consume regularly. It’s rich in vitamins A, K, and C and contains significant quantities of iron, folate, and potassium. As such, spinach can help significantly improve bone, eye, and skin health.
It’s crucial to note that while spinach contains large quantities of iron, the absorption rate is low, and the oxalic acid in spinach makes it difficult for the body to absorb this nutrient properly. So it’s best to consume other sources of iron along with spinach.
Blueberries are among the foods with the highest antioxidants, making them an ingredient that helps support immune and cardiovascular health.
The presence of antioxidants is bolstered by other nutrients, like vitamin C, manganese, and potassium.
Combining these nutrients allows blueberries to balance fluctuation in blood pressure and sugar levels while keeping the body safe from most diseases.
As mentioned earlier, all nuts provide certain nutrients in an easily absorbable form.
Walnuts are known for being rich in omega-3, a healthy fat that’s essential for several bodily functions. Omega-3 helps build cells, boosts energy levels, aids brain development, and is instrumental in mood regulation.
As such, regularly consuming walnuts helps improve cognitive function and cardiovascular health.
While avocados may seem like ‘just another fruit,’ their diverse nutrient profile puts them on this list of superfoods. Avocados contain several nutrients, including healthy fats, magnesium, potassium, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Avocados are great for detoxifying the body and significantly improving heart health, brain development, and visual function. The best part is that there are several delicious ways to prepare avocados!
Millets are gaining popularity in the West as a grain that can be consumed with several recipes. This vegan superfood grain is soft and fluffy when cooked and contains significant quantities of several nutrients essential to the body.
Millet is an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, calcium, and zinc, necessary for healthy bodily functions.
Note: You should avoid millets if you experience thyroid issues, as millet consumption can exacerbate the problem.
Amaranth is another grain that can be considered a superfood, and it’s been consumed for centuries!
It’s a seed extracted and used as a grain in meal preparation. Amaranth has unbelievable quantities of calcium and is an excellent nutrient to support bone development and health.
Amaranth is also rich in magnesium and phosphorus and is the only known grain to contain vitamin C.
Lentils are the easiest way to ensure you get ample protein on a plant-based diet. While they aren’t considered complete proteins, most lentils contain small quantities of essential amino acids, and combining them with other foods will ensure you’re getting enough of what you need.
Lentils are also a rich source of iron and fiber. The fiber in lentils ensures that any food you consume is properly digested and efficiently absorbed. As such, lentils can also be considered a vegan superfood as they aid in absorbing other nutrients aside from providing nutrients of their own.
Quinoa is a superfood grain that’s slowly gaining popularity worldwide. Aside from being a great source of iron and B vitamins, quinoa is one of the few complete protein sources you can consume on a vegan diet.
The best part is that quinoa can be prepared in various ways without compromising its nutrition profile. So you can ensure you’re meeting your daily protein needs through different recipes.
Rich in vitamins A and C and packing significant quantities of magnesium and zinc, seaweed may be one of the hottest superfoods on the market.
Aside from its rich nutrient profile, seaweed is also a low-calorie snack and is ideal for those looking to lose weight without cutting out essential nutrients from their diet.
Seaweed is rich in iodine which helps improve thyroid function and regulates growth in the body.
19. Green Tea
Rather than its nutrient profile, green tea can be considered a superfood for its effects on your mental state.
Green tea provides enough L-theanine and caffeine to keep you alert and improve mental clarity. A single cup can boost concentration levels and even suppress the urge to get easily distracted.
Kefir is a drink similar to yogurt, obtained from kefir grains, and is a potent probiotic. While kefir contains trace amounts of certain vitamins and minerals, its primary benefit lies in its effect on digestive health.
Regular consumption of kefir can significantly improve gut bacteria, which helps to alleviate digestive issues and improve nutrient absorption.
Note: Regular, drinkable supermarket kefir is made with dairy, so make sure to buy vegan kefir.
Beetroot is known to detoxify the blood, help reduce inflammation, and strengthen the immune system. But perhaps the most superpower-like quality that beetroot offers is its ability to significantly boost stamina by increasing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
By increasing oxygen levels in the body, beetroot can help speed up recovery, improve stamina, and detoxify the blood.
Soy is a complete, rich source of protein, giving your body the essential amino acids to help repair and rebuild cells.
The best part is that while soy products are high in protein, they are often free from harmful (saturated) fats, making them a clean source of protein to help build muscle mass.
You can consume soy in several forms, including tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuggets, and soy milk.
Turmeric has been used for generations in Asian cooking and is known to guard against several illnesses and diseases.
But perhaps the most impressive thing about turmeric is the presence of curcumin, which is an active compound capable of passing nutrients through the blood-brain barrier. This quality helps turmeric to guard against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
It’s also an anti-inflammatory ingredient and an antioxidant, which helps the body recover and rebuild effectively.
Include A Few!
Now that you know the best vegan superfoods, consider adding some to your diet.
While it may be troublesome to ensure you’re constantly eating healthy, adding a few of these foods will significantly improve your health.
And once you notice positive changes in your body, you’ll want to add healthier foods to your plate, so get started now!