Five Pillars Yoga

Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Top 5 Summer Superfoods

So what is a superfood? Superfoods are whole, unprocessed foods that contain a concentrated amount of nutrients. They are nutrition powerhouses. These incredible, natural packages have superpowers such as warding off cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and more! When you consume seasonal superfoods regularly, your skin will glow, your digestion will be incredible, and your inner superpowers will be unleashed as your mind clears and your body thanks you.

Here our our top 5 summer superfoods, plus quick tips for incorporating them into your daily diet. 

  1. Spinach (and other dark, leafy greens)

    Ahhh, the queens of alkalization! Dark leafy greens have been #1 on any reputable list of healthy foods for quite some time now and they are still at the top today. Spinach is often recommended, because it is mild in flavor and can be added to smoothies. That said, kale, arugula, beet greens, Swiss chard, lettuce, and dark green herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro) are also incredible sources of nutrition! Brimming with key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, low in calories, and full of fiber, dark leafy greens keep the whole body system in tip top shape.

    Add greens to your smoothies, make delicious salads, sauté greens with garlic and olive oil, or make trendy kale chips in your oven! For inspiration, check out our fav Green Smoothie recipe. Consider making this delicious Summer Greens Power Pesto for extra nutritious flavor!

  2. Blueberries

    These sweet blue treats contain a concentrated amount of fiber, potassium, magnese, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Blueberries contain the most antioxidants among commonly consumed fruits or vegetables! So what does this all mean? They help protect our bodies from cancer-causing free radicals and are chalk full of nutrients that support the immune system, nervous system, circulatory system, and digestive tract. They help our brains and our hearts. Need I say more?

    Add blueberries to your morning smoothies, cereals, or yoghurt. Eat blueberries as healthy snacks throughout the day. Check out this Summer Smoothie Bowls recipe and enjoy!

  3. Tomatoes

    Juicy red tomatoes are a sign of summer. Entirely different from out-of-season tomatoes harvested across the globe, in-season tomatoes are sweet, flavorful, and contain an abundance of nutrients and antioxidants that fight disease and keep us healthy. They are also a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect us against breast and prostate cancers.

    Add fresh tomatoes to salads, sauce, salsa, and soup! Enjoy fresh with a pinch of salt, or top with mozzarella and basil for a delectable treat!

  4. Watermelon

    Sweet and juicy watermelon is a blissful delicacy on a hot summer’s day. Watermelon’s superpowers include nutrients and antioxidants that promote heart health and bone health, and aid in the prevention of prostate cancer. Watermelon has an alkalizing effect on the body and can act as an aphrodisiac! Each bite provides incredible hydration. True to its name watermelon is 92% water. Providing vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium, watermelon is a fun and delicious guilt-free summer treat. Feel free to enjoy watermelon all summer long!

    Check out this Watermelon Smoothie recipe for inspiration or try watermelon salad with our fav Sexy Summer Watermelon Salad recipe.

  5. Avocados

    Hass and Anaheim avocados are the commercially grown varieties that are in season during the summer months. Not only delicious, they contain one of the healthiest fats there is: monounsaturated fatty acids.  Plus avos are chalk full of vitamin K, C, E, B5, and B6. They also provide a significant amount of folate and more potassium than a banana. Since our brains are made of fat and we need healthy fats to protect our heart, a daily avocado may be the easiest and most delicious choice we could make for our health. And don’t be fooled by the word “fat.” Avocados can help with weight loss!

    Add avocados to smoothies, salads, guacamole, salsas, and more! Check out this Simple Summer Salad recipe for inspiration.


*Photos from Dr. Axe, California Avocados, and Authority Nutrition


The Skinny on Salt

Little by little, the chef adds salt until they find the perfect balance of savory, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. Salt seasons our favorite dishes and creates delicious flavors when we cook. 

Understanding the world of salt can help you create satisfying meals and a healthy body. 

By now you’ve probably heard the advice to watch your salt intake. After all, too much salt in your diet causes water retention and raises your blood pressure. Increased blood pressure may strain essential organs in your body, creating a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. 

Learning about the perils of certain substances can cause us to react in extreme ways, cutting out entire food groups or nutrients. But our bodies depend on some salt to survive, so we cannot take an all or nothing approach. Like most things, there is a middle ground to discover.

Image taken from

Salt is a mineral made up of the elements sodium + chlorine. When we get just enough salt, the sodium helps to regulate water balance helping us stay hydrated, supporting digestion, and keeping our blood pressure in a healthy range, supporting the circulatory system. So when it comes to salt, too much or too little causes problems. If you exercise vigorously, attend hot yoga classes, or take saunas or steam baths regularly, consider adding a dash of salt and a squeeze of lemon to your water for a hydrating sugar-free sports drink.

Salt, alongside sugar, is added to many packaged foods to boost flavor. And most of us are consuming much more salt (and sugar) than we need when we eat processed and packaged foods. To stay healthy, eating whole, unprocessed foods and taking time to cook balanced meals may be the ticket for longevity and a healthy life. 

Building some knowledge around salt is key. How much can we consume? Is it important to purchase idolized salt? And, what type of salt should we be using?

How much can we consume? 

Healthy individuals need 1,500-2,000 mg of sodium per day to keep the body in prime shape… only 3/4 – 1 teaspoon! People diagnosed with high blood pressure or congestive heart failure are often prescribed a low-salt diet by their physicians to prevent further complications.

Since the daily quota is so small, choosing the type of salt is important. And becoming aware of sodium added to packaged and processed foods can be eye opening. Moving toward real foods and away from packaged foods will prevent the water retention and blood pressure changes that occur with excess salt.

Is it important to purchase idolized salt?

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “We can get iodine naturally by eating saltwater fish and seafood, kelp and other sea vegetables as well as vegetables grown in soils that contain iodine. Dairy products also provide iodine if the animals graze on plants growing in iodine-rich soils. However, don’t depend on processed foods that are high in sodium for iodine – the salt they contain is not iodized. Many Americans are iodine deficient so it’s a good idea to use iodized salt.”

What type of salt should we be using?

Not all salt is created equal. Table salt is stripped of minerals and contaminants and then mixed with aluminum compounds that have anti-caking properties. Sea Salt, on the other hand, comes in refined and unrefined varieties without additives. You can go to the grocery store and see pink Himalayan salts, sea salt from different places around the world, kosher salt, and table salt. There are so many varieties of salt, it may feel overwhelming. To help you sift through all of these incredible choices, here is a quick overview of your healthy options, created by Dr. Andrew Weil in his article Sizing Up Salt?

Kosher salt: This coarse-textured salt dissolves quickly and can be used for any kind of cooking. Kosher salt is not “kosher” in the sense that other foods may be – the name comes from the fact that it is used for drawing the blood out of meat, a step in the koshering process. 

Sea salt: Natural sea salt comes from evaporated seawater and is harvested all over the world. Depending on where they come from, commercial brands of sea salt usually contain a variety of trace minerals that may influence the taste and color of the product. Raw sea salt is often grayish-white, sometimes pink or orange. Sea salt can be fine or coarse in texture and comes as crystals and flakes. 

Fleur de Sel: Another prized salt. Fleur del sel means “flowers of salt” in French and is so-called because the crystals look like lacy snowflakes. Fleur de sel is white because the salt crystals don’t come in contact with the clay beds in which seawater concentrates. It is harvested from the surface of the water where it forms when winds are calm and the weather is warm.

Many other types of salt are available, including pink salt from Peru and the Himalayas, red salt from Hawaii, black volcanic salt – all with distinctive trace minerals – as well as smoked and other flavored salts. 

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Our Choice?

Although the nutrient value is the same, we prefer sea salt over table salt for regular cooking because it contains fewer additives and offers trace minerals retained from the natural harvesting process. Plus Himalayan, black volcanic salts, or Flour de Sel can be mixed into special dishes or offered as a beautiful display of seasoning options at the dinner table.