Hawaii is known for its natural beauty with its pristine beaches, tropical rain forests, lush valleys, beautiful pastureland, arid deserts, and active volcanoes. The natural landscape is diverse - in fact, there are 8 different climate zones on the Big Island of Hawaii alone.
In a place with year-round growing seasons, Hawaii naturally has a bounty of superfoods and Hawaii is consistently rated one of the healthiest states in the nation. So if you want to eat like the locals, these foods will give your body a boost in nutrients and antioxidants.
1. Hawaiian Spirulina –
Spirulina is considered one of the original superfoods, dating back to being an important food source for the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. It’s a blue-green microalgae that gets its name, Arthrospira platensis, from its spiral shape and grows in natural alkaline lakes in countries like Chad in Africa. It’s one of the most nutritious, concentrated whole food supplements known to humankind and is used to boost energy and the immune system, just to name a few of the benefits. Spirulina grown in Hawaii is cultivated in manmade raceway ponds that mimic the environment that spirulina would naturally grow in. The long, warm sunny days produce a highly nutrient dense algae, full of vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin K, zeaxanthin, and other phytonutrients such as phycocyanin, GLA, and SOD.
How to use it: Spirulina can be added into foods such sauces or dressings, but really blends well into shakes or smoothies, like this Spirulina Summer Smoothie.
2. ‘Olena –
More commonly known as turmeric, this plant was probably part of the few dozen plants brought to Hawaii by early Polynesians. ‘Olena is the Hawaiian word for yellow and the root was crushed and used as a dye by the early Hawaiians. It was also used medicinally because of its immune boosting and antibacterial qualities. The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory effects.
How to use it: Turmeric is a staple in Indian cooking, but it can be used in homemade drinks like a Turmeric, Honey & Ginger Tea or a Golden Milk Latte.
3. Noni –
Noni was another one of the original plants brought over to Hawaii from by the Polynesians. Noni is a tree that produces a small, white bumpy fruit. The noni fruit once ripe has an unpleasant smell that is hard to get used to, but it’s highly revered by the people of Hawaii for its medicinal qualities. The fruit is crushed into a juice, which has been used as a remedy for many conditions in traditional Hawaiian culture.
How to use it: Most people do not have access to the fresh fruit, but noni juice is available in many vitamin and health food stores. The juice can be drank straight up or blended into smoothies.
4. Hawaiian Astaxanthin –
Cultivated in Hawaii from microalgae as well as found naturally in fish like salmon, astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that has a diverse range of benefits stemming from joint and tendon support, eye and brain health, recovery from exercise, to even acting like an internal sun screen. Astaxanthin is a red carotenoid that colors seafood red and pink and is over 500 times more powerful than vitamin E and 10-20 times stronger than other carotenoids such as zeaxanthin, lutein, lycopene and beta carotene. Astaxanthin is used by many athletes as part of their training regimen and is used by many locals to help with sun protection from the sunny Hawaiian days.
How to use it: The most concentrated form of astaxanthin is in supplement form such as BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin, but it can also be consumed by eating salmon, such as wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon.
5. Kona Coffee Cherry Skins –
Many of us don’t start our day without our morning cup of coffee and while drinking coffee has health benefits, did you know that there are large amounts of antioxidants found in the coffee cherry skins? For many years, farmers didn’t realize that the coffee skins that they were discarding were actually really valuable in regards to health benefits. The coffee skins have a high Oxygen Radial Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) value that when tested has been found to be higher than well-known superfoods like acai, pomegranates and even blueberries.
How to use it: Coffee cherry skins have been processed in to coffee cherry drinks that are sold in many health food stores and have even been infused into skin care lines.