By: Sydney Levine
Trendy golden-milk lattes, bright blue smoothies, matcha lattes are all the rage right now among health fans and enthusiasts of an aesthetically pleasing Instagram picture. However, these fun and “trendy” foods are more than just mesmerizing drinks covering all colors of the rainbow, they contain supplements that are attributed to several, real health benefits. While there is an infinitely growing list of supplements, powders and oils that are both beneficial to health as well as aesthetically pleasing, the three supplements I want to highlight are turmeric, maca, and spirulina. These are my supplements of choice as they are not only easy to purchase, but are also extremely versatile, and can be incorporated into any of your favorite recipes in a plethora of ways.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard of turmeric. Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that has been a staple in Indian cuisine for thousands of years. The spice doesn’t only add an abundance of flavor and color to dishes, but, additionally, as a medicinal herb, provides several healing powers (Gunnars, 2021). The spice comes from the root Curcuma longa and contains the active ingredient curcumin, a bioactive substance that is attributed to benefiting our minds and body (“TURMERIC: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews”, 2021).
Turmeric is mostly known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation can cause several health complications such as heart disease, muscle pain, degenerative conditions, and metabolic syndrome (Gunnars, 2021). Studies have also shown that adding turmeric to your diet can alleviate pain from arthritis, as the spice lowers joint inflammation (Chandran & Goel, 2012). The spice is a strong antioxidant which means it can protect the body from free radicals and fights off infections (Gunnars, 2021). Turmeric also has the ability to help individuals experiencing depression. Recent studies have shown that patients who regularly incorporated turmeric and curcumin supplements into their diet experienced nearly identical benefits as patients prescribed with antidepressants (Sanmukhani et al., 2013). Furthermore, turmeric can help lower cholesterol and even ease the symptoms of a nasty hangover! As noted, turmeric has several health benefits, but keep in mind the spice is not all-encompassing or the single key to solving all your health problems. Simply consider incorporating turmeric into your diet as just one adjustment, indicating you are paying closer attention to diversifying your source of nutrients.
Another supplement you should consider adding to your diet is maca. Originating in Peru, Maca is a part of the cruciferous vegetable family, meaning it’s closely related to cabbage, kale, and broccoli (10 health benefits of maca root, 2021). The plant is a great source of Vitamin C, copper, and iron, boosts energy levels and has been found to improve brain function, particularly learning and memory abilities (10 health benefits of maca root, 2021). Moreover, maca contains flavonoids which have been found to reduce feelings of anxiety and improve your mood (10 health benefits of maca root, 2021). Maca is usually found in powder form at the grocery store, making it easy to add to smoothies, coffee, or even baked goods . Alternatively, maca can also be consumed in capsule form. It has somewhat of an earthy and nutty taste and tends to pair well with cinnamon. I find that it is a great addition to your morning oatmeal, sprinkled into your lattes, or mixed into a homemade granola.
One of my favorite ways to add maca to my meals is an easy overnight oats recipe:
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
- ½ cup of gluten free oats
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- ½ to 1 tablespoon maca powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional: ½ tablespoon of cocoa powder
- Combine all ingredients, refrigerate overnight, and top with your favorite fruit!
Lastly, spirulina is another nutritional supplement containing several vitamins and antioxidants that improve body and brain function. It is a type of cyanobacteria referred to as a blue-green algae (Leech, 2021). The main active ingredient in spirulina is phycocyanin – giving this powder its unique bright, blue-green color (Leech, 2021). Spirulina has a high protein and vitamin content, making it an excellent nutritional supplement for vegans and vegetarians. While spirulina is an exceptional addition for vegetarians or vegans, everyone should consider adding this superfood to your diet, as its health benefits are plentiful (Burgess, 2021). In just a single tablespoon, spirulina powder contains four grams of protein, Vitamin B1, B2, and B3, Copper, Iron, and Magnesium (Leech, 2021). Vitamin B1 inhibits the development of health problems in your brain, muscles, nervous system and heart (“Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Foods, benefits, and deficiency symptoms”, 2021). Vitamin B2 plays an important role in the breakdown of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and, thus, helps maintain your body’s energy supply (Brazier, 2021). Spirulina also acts as an anti-inflammatory, reduces blood pressure, lowers blood sugar, and even helps improve muscle strength and endurance (Leech, 2021). This superfood also has antioxidant properties which means it minimizes muscle damage and soreness, and, as a result, is a particularly helpful supplement for athletes and individuals who consistently exercise (Leech, 2021). Lastly, spirulina has also been found to help regulate the immune system, improve gut health, and boost metabolism (Burgess, 2021). Spirulina is a great addition to smoothies, energy bites, lattes, or even pesto.
As people are turning to natural supplements and holistic remedies, superfoods like turmeric, maca, and spirulina are rising to popularity due to their proven health and wellness benefits. If you want an extra boost to improve your overall health consider adding these three supplements to your cart on your next trip to the grocery store.
Brazier, Y. (2021). Vitamin B2: Role, sources, and deficiency. Retrieved 15 August 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219561#
Chandran, B., Goel, A., 2012. A Randomized, Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis. Phytotherapy Research 26, 1719–1725.. doi:10.1002/ptr.4639
Gunnars, K. (2021). 10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin. Retrieved 15 August 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric
Leech, J. (2021). 10 Health Benefits of Spirulina. Retrieved 15 August 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-spirulina
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Sanmukhani, J., Satodia, V., Trivedi, J., Patel, T., Tiwari, D., & Panchal, B. et al. (2013). Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytotherapy Research, 28(4), 579-585. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5025
Spritzler, F. (2021). 10 Supplements That Fight Inflammation. Retrieved 15 August 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-anti-inflammatory-supplements
TURMERIC: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews. (2021). Retrieved 15 August 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-662/turmeric
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Wong, C. (2021). The Blue-Green Algae Spirulina May Have Many Health Benefits. Retrieved 15 August 2021, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-spirulina-89079
10 health benefits of maca root. (2021). Retrieved 15 August 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322511#risks