Most people know a fair bit about superfoods these days. Avocados, blueberries and kale are staples on our weekly shopping lists and we feel pretty confident in using them to whip up healthy meals and snacks.
When I was developing Natural Beauty Sleep, I did a lot of research into the nutrient profiles of traditional superfoods and I just happened to stumble across a report about Australian native superfoods.
I was like ‘What the..??" How is it possible that I didn’t already know about these and how amazing they are?! On one end of the spectrum I’d heard of Australian native ingredients being used in natural skincare as a way of boosting collagen and hydration levels, and at the other end in things like aromatherapy to help people cope with stress and anxiety.. even sleep better.. but I had no idea that Australian native superfoods have some of the highest nutrient profiles of any food on the planet. WAY more than most traditional superfoods.
Why are Australian native superfoods so amazing?
So why is it that our humble Australian natives outrank some of our most nutritious (and familiar) superfoods? The reason makes sense if you think about it.
Australian native flora have evolved over 65,000 years to survive in Australia's harsh, dry conditions. Over time these amazing plants have learnt to absorb every little nutrient available to them from the soil, water and sun, which they hold on to for dear life because they don’t know when their next 'meal' will come along. All that nutritional goodness is stored in their leaves, stems and fruit, which is why they are SO nutrient-dense when put under the microscope.
So... why aren't more people eating them?!
After discovering this, I was like “Well, why are more people not using these for functional health benefits?” I did some more research and it turns out this is for two reasons:
First of all, many native foods still aren’t commercially produced. Most are still wild-grown and harvested by Indigenous communities which means supply can fluctuate and some – like Kakadu plum - are actually quite expensive, so I guess that probably puts a lot of brands off using them. And those that do, I’ve noticed tend to include the tiniest amount so they can say their product includes native ingredients but most of the time it’s really not much to actually do anything
And secondly, there are literally thousands of species of native foods but – because research on these foods is still relatively new – only a handful have been approved by Food Standards Australia for human consumption, and many still aren’t recognised by Food Authorities internationally, so the market for native food products is basically limited to Australia at the moment.
Why Australian native superfoods should be part of your diet
Not only are Australian native superfoods among the most nutritious food sources on Earth, they are also one of the oldest among human civilisation. I don't know about you, but that any food that has been on the menu for more than 65,000 years must be so unbelievably good, it's definitely worth a try!
Whether they grow naturally in the wild or are cultivated on farms – Australian native superfoods are good for us AND good for the planet. They require no additional water other than what our environment provides, no additional fertiliser than what’s already in our soils, and no pesticides or chemicals as they’ve evolved over thens of thousands of years to withstand our pests. This makes Australian natives one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable food sources on the planet.
Native flora also provide natural habitat for native fauna, so growing these for purpose also helps to support our unique biodiversity. Love!
How to include them in your diet
Finding beautifully fresh Australian native superfoods to eat can be a little tricky, especially if you don't live close to a local grower or farmers market in a region where they're grown.
And because many native superfoods are still wild-grown, they are often affected by unpredictable seasonal conditions which in turn affects the quality of fresh product as well as supply.
To help combat this, many growers and wholesalers send their fresh produce to be freeze-dried (which locks in all the nutrients) and milled a fine powder which makes it easy to for them to distribute and us to consume while also extending its shelf life. These powders smell divine and can be added to pretty much anything you can think of.. meals, desserts, smoothies, baking, and even sauces. Not only do they pack a flavourful punch but they also boost the nutrient content of whatever it is you're eating which makes it so easy (and delicious!) to hit your daily health targets.
Source your superfoods equitably wherever possible
If you only take away one thing today, I want it to be this. It's so important to know where your Australian native superfoods come from and to support Indigenous growers and harvesters wherever possible.
In sourcing these ingredients for my business, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing wholesalers who specialise in the supply of Australian native superfoods and have also spent decades developing trusted relationships with the Indigenous growers and harvesters who supply them. So I know that whatever I buy is equitably sourced and contributes to supporting the local Indigenous communities where they come from.
Naturally, this makes Australian native superfoods a bit more expensive than traditional superfoods but it's absolutely worth it in my opinion. Not only do you get the absolute premium of naturally nutrient-rich foods, but you're also making a sustainable choice and helping support local Indigenous businesses. That's three wins in one!
Australian native superfoods are super-easy way of upping your daily nutrient intake naturally and sustainably. With more nutrients than any other natural food source on the planet, only small amounts need to be included in your diet for your body to functionally benefit.
Supercharge meals, desserts and smoothies by adding some equitably-sourced freeze-dried native superfood powder and see how good you feel!