15 Lectin-Free Superfoods Dr. Gundry Recommends
Superfoods have exceptionally high concentrations of polyphenols and other antioxidants, earning them ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scores that greatly surpass most other healthy foods. According to nutrition expert Dr. Steven Gundry, they can help you to look and feel younger and healthier while preventing (and even reversing) disease.
Dr. Gundry’s 3 Superfoods to Avoid
Before we get to the list of 15, a word of caution: Dr. Gundry also says that there are hidden dangers in some superfoods, and if you’re on the Plant Paradox Diet you’ll want to be careful. There are 3 superfoods in particular that he says you should always avoid: goji berries, chia seeds
The problem is that some so-called superfoods also contain lectins, those pesky plant proteins that can cause inflammation and set the stage for a variety of diseases, as well as weight gain.
It’s tricky with the wildly popular goji berries, chia seeds, and wheatgrass. They have very high ORAC values and contain some other goodies too. But they also contain lectins, so if you’re sensitive to lectins then any health benefits these “superfoods” confer could be canceled out.
Superfoods to Eat, According to Dr. Gundry
Don’t despair: there are plenty of delicious, lectin-free superfoods available. Below are the top 15 superfoods that Dr. Gundry recommends you eat. They are 100% Plant Paradox compliant and appear on his “Yes, Please” list.
To make this list, the foods had to have an ORAC Value of at least 1000. The #1 rated superfood at the end of the list has an off-the-charts ORAC value of 127,000 (hint: start ordering more curry!)
Foods with lower scores had to have significant additional health-boosting properties beyond antioxidants. There’s much more to superfoods than ORAC values, after all. For example, ORAC values do not account for fiber.
An ORAC value of 1070 may not make you want to run out and buy coconut oil. However, coconut oil has so many other health benefits that it belongs on any superfoods list. It’s incredibly rich in fatty acids (medium chain triglycerides, to be specific) that contain a host of medicinal properties. It also tastes great and is incredibly versatile in the kitchen.
Coconut oil is pure saturated fat, which is good for you in moderation. It should be consumed as part of a balanced diet that includes other healthy fats such as grass-fed butter or ghee, olive oil, and fish oil.
Kiwis are also relatively modest in the antioxidant department, but don’t underestimate them: they boost the secretion of Mucin in your gut, and Mucin is a natural lectin blocker. They’re also a great source of vitamins C, K, E and folate, and contain significant fiber. As a bonus, Kiwis are relatively low in sugar. Golden kiwis have slightly more antioxidants than green, including more Vitamin C, but they also have more sugar. Here’s a comparison from Zespri Kiwi.
The health-boosting properties of green tea are legendary. Its potent anti-inflammatory polyphenols can help with everything from weight loss to cancer prevention to skin tone.
How is this possible with an ORAC score of just 1,253? Green tea’s secret to success is that it’s 30 percent polyphenols by weight, and easy to consume. So, even though it’s ORAC value is modest, the sheer quantity of antioxidants it can deliver is high. Drink up!
Macadamia nuts seem like an indulgent treat (aloha!) and their ORAC score is unremarkable, so how did they make it onto this list?
What makes Macadamias special is that they’ve got the highest Omega-9 content of all nuts. Omega-9s are otherwise somewhat difficult to come by compared to the other Omega fats. Omega-9s are known to be beneficial to your heart, brain, and even mood, and it’s important to balance your Omega fats. These nutrient-dense treats also have essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, iron, B vitamins, manganese, and folate.
No superfoods list would be complete without kale. It’s jam-packed with vitamins: just one cup has 200% of your daily required vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C and 700% of vitamin K. Its antioxidants include quercetin, which has potent anti-viral properties that support your immune system. With 120g of Omega-3s per cup and loads of soluble fiber, kale really does have it all.
Avocados are the one and only fruit you don’t have to eat in moderation. They’re low in sugar while being loaded with healthy fats and soluble fiber that promotes healthy gut bacteria. As a bonus, an avocado has almost as much protein as an egg. This superfood is so good for you that Dr. Gundry recommends eating one every day.
Sweet Potatoes and Yams
When you look at the rich orange color of a sweet potato or yam, what nutrient do you think this root veggie is most likely to be high in? If you guessed the potent antioxidant beta-carotene, you’d be right. In fact, sweet potatoes and yams have even more of it than carrots. They’re also high in fiber and contain an array of vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, and selenium, as well as significant amounts of B vitamins and vitamin C.
With their rich dark color, it’s no surprise that Kalamata Olives have the highest antioxidant content of all olives. You may be wondering why olive oil didn’t make this list. Due to a quirk in the way ORAC values are calculated, extra virgin olive oil has a lowish ORAC score (~300) despite being incredibly rich in antioxidants.
I nonetheless consider extra virgin olive oil to be a superfood, especially since some super premium brands of olive oil have extraordinarily high antioxidant counts. Read about my favorite.
With their beautiful rich red color, it’s no surprise that pomegranates are loaded with antioxidants. In fact, they have 3x more antioxidants than red wine and green tea including being loaded with Vitamin C.
The juice of this well-known superfood has been used as medicine for thousands of years to treat everything from inflammation to high blood pressure to digestive complaints.
To easily access the fruit: cut one in half, hold it over a large bowl and wack the skin with a wooden spoon. You’ll be amazed how well this trick works.
In addition to an impressive ORAC Value of 4,669, the beauty of blueberries is that they’re low in sugar (and in calories overall) while being very high in nutrients, including fiber. A cup contains just 84 calories and has 4g of fiber.
Blueberries get their health-promoting properties by way of flavonoids. Specifically, they’re loaded with anthocyanins. The catch with blueberries is that they’re highly seasonal, and are best consumed fresh and local. Berries that come from overseas (like Chile and Peru) were almost certainly picked underripe, which means they could contain lectins.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Cilantro is a superfood. Weighing in at a healthy 5,121 points, this versatile herb is rich on phytonutrients, flavonoids and phenolic compounds, including vitamins A, K, folate, and potassium.
Cilantro has been used medicinally for thousands of years for everything from cleansing to improving digestion to reducing excess heat in the body. Today it’s also known to protect against cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, urinary tract infections, and heavy metals.
Most people think blueberries are the most antioxidant-rich berry, but with an ORAC Value of 5,905 it turns out blackberries have them beat. Like blueberries, they’re low calories and high in nutrients, including fiber, and they’re loaded with anthocyanins.
Blackberries have a very similar flavor profile to blueberries and can easily be used as a substitute. Next time you reach for blueberries at the store, consider opting for blackberries instead. It’s important to maintain as a diverse a diet as possible because diversity on the plate = diversity in the gut.
When it comes to ORAC values for nuts, walnuts have no competition. In fact, they beat out most other common superfoods foods you’d eat. Walnuts also have the more Omega 3s than any other nut, further solidifying their place on the throne. As a bonus, they’re high in protein and, like most nuts, have some prebiotic fiber.
Dark chocolate is one of the few things in life that seems too good to be true but actually isn’t. With its rich dark color, it’s no surprise that its ORAC Value is so formidable.
In addition to being loaded with polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins, chocolate is high in the minerals manganese, magnesium, copper, and iron. It has an excellent fatty acid profile, being mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat.
From supporting heart and brain health to lowering blood pressure, the benefits of chocolate are well established, and many.
As if to flaunt its potency, Tumeric dazzles with its rich orange color and infuses itself into seemingly everything it touches. This is the king of superfoods, and its ORAC Value of 127,068 should give you every excuse you need to order curry more often.
Few herbs have been studied as thoroughly as Tumeric, and research has proven out its broad health benefits. Many of them stem from its potent anti-inflammatory effects, which can easily rival popular NSAIDs like ibuprofen.
Eating Superfoods on the Plant Paradox Diet
For people on the Plant Paradox Diet, Dr. Gundry’s advice on superfoods is that you want to consume as many as possible across a broad spectrum.
That’s because there are thousands of species of microbes in your gut, and different species feed on the wildly varying types of fiber contained in the foods you eat. Different colored foods typically contain different nutrients, so consume a “rainbow of foods” every week and you’ll most likely cover all your bases.