What is a Super Food?
Food is often associated with pleasure and indulgence, but it's primary role is that of fuel for the body. The right foods provide nutrition and promote good health and most natural foods serve this need. But a superfood is one which is especially rich in nutrients, making it superior to regular food, hence the word 'super' used to describe it.
If a food is described as 'super' surely that's enough reason to abandon everything else and start tucking into goji berries or sprinkling chia seeds and seaweed onto everything. Perhaps, but with each passing year research into new and old food items puts yet new superfoods on the health map. So if you're still devoted to your kale and spinach smoothie, bathing your coffee in grass fed butter and coconut oil, or tossing avocados and acai into salads and breakfast bowls, we hate to break it to you, but you’re kind of living under a rock. Take a break from nursing your turmeric latte and try out these new superfoods that are responsible for that glow of health in 2019.
10 All New Superfoods of 2019 to Include in Your Diet
Tiger Nuts, Because You Need a Nut You Never Knew Existed
The coconutty and slightly almond like flavours of this wrinkly looking rhizomes are in no way new or unheard of. They've been cultivated for millenia; ancient Egyptians ate them, so do American Indians and the Spanish. But this nut, which isn't actually a nut, is the newest superfood craze thanks largely to it's resistance starch fiber. Now what exactly is that? These fibers don't get digested by the body but pass through the digestive track, in effect, helping you keep full thus promoting weight loss, keeping blood sugar levels in check, while also helping with digestion. These chewy nuts are about the size of chickpeas, and are actually the tuberous rhizomes of a type of grass known as sedge grass.
They also happen to be packed with nutrients, especially vitamin E and iron. Chew them raw, toast and grind them, or boil them for a softer texture, snack on them or add them to a breakfast mix or salad, there are loads of ways of eating these. What they will do is boost your immunity and may even give a leg up to your libido.
Take a Break from Arugula, Try Moringa Leaves
The fun thing about superfoods is you may have been eating them all your lives till some research somewhere discovers it's some kind of miracle food. The moringa tree is a pretty common one in South Asia. You may know of its pods, drumsticks, a common vegetable used in many South Asian communities. Indians add them in dals and curries, scooping up the slightly gelatinous flesh and seeds inside before discarding the outer husk. But the pods are relatively low in nutrition when compared to it's leaves.
Leaves of the moringa tree are enjoying theirs day in the sun as research has found out they are extremely nutritious. Packed with nutrients, these miracle leaves are eaten fresh as vegetable, dried and powdered to be eaten as a supplement, or brewed as tea. They alleviate inflammation, lower blood cholesterol, fight free radicals, boost brain and liver health and are antimicrobial to boot, thus speed up the healing process.
Hemp Seed, Although Seaweed is Still Hot
Hemp seeds come from a plant that is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant, but before you start getting excited about this cousin of cannabis, we should let you know it has none of the mind altering effects. But on the bright side, it is packed with nutrients. Like proteins. A mere 3 tablespoons which is about 30 grams can give you nearly 10 grams of protein, which is a lot for a plant source. Omega 3, fiber, vitamins and minerals, these little buggers have loads of the good stuff that will keep you healthy, keep inflammation at bay, keep skin and the heart healthy.
Chaga Mushroom Coffee, Minus the Coconut and Butter
These mushrooms aren’t the most appetising looking in their natural state. They look like clumps of caked and dried mud on birch trees where they grow, but get past their appearance quickly because they are among the biggest superstars in the superfood clan, and their super power is that of an antioxidant. Which roughly translates to slowing down of the ageing process, fighting cancer, being anti-inflammation and controlling cholesterol. It can also undo some of the ravages of chemotherapy and drugs.
They’ve been used in traditional Russian medicine for centuries but now you too can benefit from them. But for the coffee lovers, here’s the best part: they actually taste like coffee and will often be referred to as chaga mushroom coffee! But since they don’t actually contain any caffeine, they won’t disturb your sleep patterns and can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Fresh May Be Overrated, Fermented Foods Find the Spotlight
Sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, sourdough, pickles and the like have all been quietly brewing for centuries but these lovely ferments may be edging out fresher produce this year as the focus turns to probiotics. The beneficial bacteria and yeasts in these ferments colonize your gut, and help in the breakdown and absorption of food.
Millions of bacteria taking hold of your insides may sound terrible but before you contemplate turning into a full blown germophobe, take a moment to let it sink in—this is a good thing. There are the good guys and the bad ones, even among bacteria and you want the good critters in there. They'll fight off the bad ones and streamline your digestion.
A healthy gut has been linked to everything from heart health and optimal blood sugar levels to mental health, and depression. There's a saying that you are what you digest, not what you eat. These ferments make sure you digest and reap the full benefits of whatever you eat. So take your pick of fermented foods packed with gut friendly bacteria and brush those anxious thoughts away.
Maqui Berries Take Over from Acai
It’s no secret that berries are some of the most prized superfoods, be they blueberries or the more recent acai. These tiny fruits are loaded with antioxidants that deliver everything from anti-ageing to heart health and weight control. The maqui berry is the latest superfruit to join these hallowed ranks.
But how is it better than the ones which came before? Apparently, in every way possible. While berries are rich in antioxidants, acai berries has several times these beneficial nutrients, and maqui, the latest entrant in the superfood market, beats even the acai berry. Other nutritional properties are more or less similar, but maqui berries are far superior to any other berry.
Trout Trumps Salmon
We all love our salmon don't we? It's so versatile, eat it raw or cooked, in sushi or ensconed in pasta. But having eaten it a few hundred times, don't we find ourselves wishing there was another super healthy fish we could sink our teeth into? Most fish is healthy, but the good news is trout may be healthier than some! And the best part, there are several varieties of this freshwater fatty fish depending on where you are, so the Norwegian wild salmon can perhaps heave a sigh of relief and recover some of their numbers.
Along with salmon, trout has been variable described as a goldmine of omega-3 fatty acids and a fantastic source of protein and vitamins. And because it's a freshwater fish, it has lower levels of mercury too. Do you need any more reasons to bring this fish home?
Avocado Gives Olive a Run for it's Oil
We wish we could say we saw this coming but the old favourite, olive oil, beat off stiff competition for years, even from strong contenders like the coconut. But looks like it finally met its match in the avocado. The creamy, smooth, luscious flesh of the avocado seemed a perfect match for a little drizzle of olive oil, until avocado oil stepped in and decided the fruit wanted all the attention. If you're one to keep pace with the latest health trends, now would be the time to put the olive oil on the back shelf for a bit and reach for avocado oil the next time you're cooking.
Not to disparage olive oil, but avocado scores higher on some points, specially with regard to cooking. It has a higher smoke point than olive and a higher percentage of the good fatty acids. There's also the matter of taste - avocado has almost none unlike olive oil so if you're cooking a dish where you a want more neutral flavoured oil, avocado would be the better option.
Stop Spitting Out Those Watermelon Seeds
The humble watermelon seeds are almost always unceremoniously spat out while biting into this delicious juicy fruit, but new research shows you'd be better off munching on these too. These low calorie seeds offer plenty of magnesium, folate and iron, though the seeds are quite tiny so you'll need to have at least a tablespoon to really reap any significant benefits. But when you do manage to eat enough of them, they are great for your skin, hair and bone health.
They also have several other micro nutrients which are good for the heart, anti-ageing and digestive health and surplus energy among others. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why these often overlooked seeds are seeing growing popularity is the fact they are very common, and are easily and cheaply available unlike most superfoods. And isn't it great to discover a superfood in something that was usually discarded? The best way to eat them is while eating the fruit, but they can be toasted and shelled for improved flavour, or sprouted to make them more easily digestible.
Bring in Bee Propolis to Give Your Raw Honey Company
Honeybees have a lot more to offer than their sweet nectar and you may already be aware of the tremendous health benefits of raw honey. You may have also heard of royal jelly, another nutritious substance obtained from bee hives. Bee propolis, also known as bee glue, is yet another substance that is obtained from these hives. It is a kind of resin created by bees to repair and protect their hives, both in terms of physical strength and also from infection and foreign invaders. What is it made of? This sticky brown substance is a mix of beeswax, bee saliva, tree sap and other compounds.
This is a highly nutritious substance with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties and has been in use for thousands of years - the Egyptians used it in their mummification process. Among the hundreds of compounds that make up bee propolis, anti-oxidants called polyphenols constitute the most significant number, specially flavanoids - the same kind found in green tea and red wine, but a lot more. These protect cells from ageing and speed up healing, much like raw honey. And like honey, bee propolis has a number of applications, from healing wounds and cold sores, battling cancer cells, prevention of disease, gut health and treating diabetes related conditions, liver and oral health among others.
Though much of this has been known for years, propolis has recently surfaced as a much sought after superfood as a preventive measure and to boost the immune system. It's available in a number of forms for ingestion and topical application.
Taking Superfoods with a Pinch of Salt and a Dash of Olive Oil
While these specially singled out foods are densely packed with nutrients, earning them the popular marketing monicker 'superfood', the reality is you do need to eat all the other less glamorous foods as well to maintain optimal health. Interestingly, the term superfood was coined by marketeers to distinguish and promote certain specific foods and the term stuck. No one food is a miracle source of sustenance and you need to eat a variety of things, preferably foods that grow best, and naturally, in your environment as these will be most suited to you and the weather.
Here are a few guidelines for introducing new superfoods into your daily diet:
- Introduce them one at a time and take some time to assess how your body is reacting to them.
- Be aware if it's really all that it's being made out to be and if are you really seeing benefits to your health.
- Does it fit in your your food budget and is it viable to have daily or often?
- Be mindful of whether or not it is suitable for your body type, current health condition and climate.
- Are there local, healthy alternatives that you could use instead?
Separate fad from health
Does your food really have to come from halfway across the world and cost more than your entire monthly food budget put together? It's easy to get swept away with the latest food trends, specially when tantalizing numbers and promises of health are dangled in front of you, but learn to pause and ask if any of these superfoods are really needed and perhaps there are other local foods that are better suited to your environment and will give you good health without leaving you confused as to how to incorporate them in your diet.