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Keto Or Not: These Are The Top Plant-Based Superfoods For Your Health

June 17, 2019
Functional Medicine Practitioner
By William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C.
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine practitioner with a certification in natural medicine and a doctor of chiropractic degree.
Image by Megan Easterday / Contributor
June 17, 2019

When it comes to eating healthfully, dieting dogma and restrictive food rules are out— loving yourself enough to nourish your body with delicious and healing foods is in. This is an essential truth for sustainable wellness. Instead of obsessing about all the foods you shouldn’t eat or can’t eat, let’s look at all the simple ways that we can use food to feel and look great—in a way that’s sustainable for the wellness of our planet. 

A clean, plant-centric diet that incorporates superfoods is a good place to start. As a functional medicine practitioner, Navitas is typically my go-to brand to recommend because they offer all the essential superfoods that are key to promoting optimal health, and I know the quality is going to be top-notch.

Here are some of my favorite natural, health-elevating foods to incorporate into a plant-forward lifestyle, particularly for anyone who’s keto curious (as one of the most searched diets out there, who isn’t?).

1. MCT Oil

Getting in healthy fats from food are vital for the optimal functioning of our brain, immune system, and hormones. Looking at it from a biological and evolutionary perspective, we started out our lives relying on fat in the form of breastmilk for energy and development. And when you consider that 60 percent of our brain is comprised of fat, it makes sense to feed it exactly what it is made of rather than deprive it.

While healthy fats come it many forms, one of my favorites is MCT oil. MCT stands for medium-chain-triglycerides, and are a special type of fatty acid that is six to twelve1 carbons in length. While MCT oils can be found in two forms—natural and synthetic—natural sources are going to be the purest and most bioavailable to our bodies and can be found in dairy fats, palm kernel oil, and my favorite plant-based source—coconut oil. 

MCTs are especially beneficial for our bodies because they not only help us reach ketosis faster2, but they can also improve overall brain health3 and memory, promote healthy microbiome balance, and increase metabolic rate4 for reduced weight, improved cholesterol4 and balanced blood sugar5.

The great thing about MCT oil is that it is super easy to incorporate into your diet. My favorite way is to add it to my morning beverage. Navitas Organics makes it super easy with their new Superfood Latte Mixes that contain coconut-derived MCTs and your choice of essential superfoods like turmeric, matcha, and cacao in one convenient ready-to-mix packet—all you need is hot water, milk or your favorite milk alternative.

Image by Megan Easterday / Contributor

2. Turmeric

Whether you are going keto or just wanting to elevate your health, turmeric is one of my favorite superfoods for driving down inflammation. The compound found in turmeric known as curcumin is what boasts the powerful inflammation fighting capabilities of this spice. 

Since inflammation is the thorn-in-the-side of almost every modern-day health problem from brain fog, to autoimmune disease, to cancer, keeping inflammation under control is essential. While a plant-based diet can already help lower inflammation, sometimes we need a little extra boost.

You can take turmeric in capsule form if you desire but for most people, I suggest just adding turmeric to any dish you are already making to amp up the flavor. But all turmeric is not created equal – some, like the kind Navitas offers, contains higher levels of curcumin than other brands. You can use their organic turmeric powder in recipes or their Turmeric Latte Mix ensures you are getting both turmeric and MCT oil superfoods in your morning beverage.

Image by Megan Easterday / Contributor

3. Hemp

Hemp is a superstar protein source for those avoiding animal products. It is both a clean protein at 4g per serving, as well as a source of healthy fats. In fact, it is one of the few plant-based foods that contains all nine essential amino acids to make it a complete protein.

It also contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids and 25 percent of your daily magnesium requirements per serving. You can get hemp in powdered form for use in smoothies or other beverages and it makes a great snack or salad topper if you choose to eat the whole hemp seed, which Navitas has as well. 

Image by Megan Easterday / Contributor

4. Maca 

We shouldn’t overlook the importance of adaptogens and other herbal medicines when it comes to your health. Although adaptogens like maca aren’t high in protein or healthy fats, they are superfoods in their own right through their ability to restore balance to areas of your health that are out of whack. That’s because adaptogens have a unique ability to regulate the communication between our brain and hormones. HPA axis dysfunction—what is commonly termed adrenal fatigue—is really a brain-based imbalance with the adrenal glands. Adaptogens like maca can support a healthy balance between our brain and hormones—and it’s one of my favorites for its ability to boost energy while also reducing stress. 

When buying adaptogens, you’ll want to pay attention to quality to make sure you aren’t further perpetuating any symptoms with added ingredients or toxins from poor sourcing. Navitas’ high-quality Maca Powder is ethically sourced from Peru—and you can easily add it to beverages like your favorite smoothie or in a better-for-you dessert recipe.

Image by Megan Easterday / Contributor

5. Cacao butter

As a society, we are still moving away from the old thought of ‘’fat is bad,’’ even with the rise in popularity of keto. We can always be looking for more ways to up our fat intake through clean, plant-based sources instead of turning to meat and dairy.

Cacao butter is a great example; it’s derived from cacao beans and is often overlooked as a fat source. It makes a delicious addition to baked goods, smoothies, or coconut milk hot chocolate for added richness and depth of flavor. If you are looking to switch things up while still staying plant-based, Navitas’ Cacao Butter is organic, vegan, and fair-trade making it the perfect superfood source for getting more fats into your life. 

These are just a few of my superfood staples for elevating everyday wellness conveniently and deliciously. Taking steps towards a healthful plant-forward lifestyle has never been more simple. 

William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C. author page.
William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C.
Functional Medicine Practitioner

Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian,The Inflammation Spectrum, and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.