Healthy Habits to Help Make 2018 Your Healthiest Year Yet!
Superfoods are one of those buzz words that I feel like has probably got too much press as of late. I mean, it seems like every other week there is a new “superfood” that you just have to start eating. But is it for real, or just hype?
Well, it depends on how you look at it. The definition of a superfood, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is: a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.
So yes, according to this description there are many foods that can be considered superfoods – and there are also numerous ones that are just trying to jump on the bandwagon.
Then is there criteria that would rate the best superfoods from those that are just trying to tag along?
To put in simply, and to help you decipher what [I believe] should be considered a superfood worth trying – vs. another marketing ploy – is to not only look at the nutrients themselves but also how accessible the food is, how good it tastes, and how many different ways you can enjoy it – because if it doesn’t meet at least 3 out of 4 of these, then why even bother?! Especially if it’s something you’re wanting to eat on a regular basis.
Now with that said, I want to give you a list of the “Newest” Top Superfoods of 2018, because it’s a new year and it’s always good to get out there and experience new things :). [“Newest” is in quotes because some of these foods have been around for centuries, but they are just starting to gain popularity with Western society.]
- Avocado Oil
- Cassava Flour
- Chaga Mushrooms
- Jack Fruit
- Maqui Berries
- Moringa Powder
- Tiger Nuts
- Watermelon Seeds
MORE ABOUT EACH SUPERFOOD – and how to incorporate them into your life
Now let’s dive into the reasons why I think each of these foods are so great:
1. AVOCADO OIL:
If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love Avocado Oil. But I’m not just putting it on the list because of me! This neutral oil, which has a high smoke point – meaning that you can heat it higher [than many oils] without destroying the nutrients – is ideal for cooking. With high levels of antioxidants and healthy fats, it also has the ability to improve heart health and skin quality, and neutralize free radicals.
My go-to oil for roasting Brussels Sprouts, it can also be used for baking, stir-frying or on top of salads.
2. CASSAVA FLOUR:
Traditionally used in Bali and South Asia, this isn’t necessarily the type of food you’d consider to be a superfood but made the list thanks to the fact that it’s
gluten-free, paleo-friendly, vegan-friendly, and nut-free and is a much closer alternative to wheat flour than the widespread coconut and almond flours are.
This root-vegetable is also low in calories, contains very little fat, and is completely grain free. Cassava flour has a fine texture, neutral taste, and is white in color making it a great baking flour alternative for those who suffer from bloating, IBS, or gluten intolerance. It also includes a variety of nutrients including vitamin C, copper, and folate and does contain a bit of fiber and protein to boot.
3. CHAGA MUSHROOMS:
Although not the most attractive looking food, Chaga Mushrooms – with their lumpy exterior and all – host an impressive amount of nutrients, including high levels of antioxidant, tons of fiber, and both anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. In fact, they are said to support the immune system by increasing the production of certain immune cells as well as helping to soothe the digestive system.
While you can really add Chaga Mushroom powder to a whole host of foods, it seems to be that hot drinks such as “mushroom coffee” have helped this mushroom get to its current level of fame – and is my favorite way of enjoying it as well.
While cannabis is growing in popularity around the country, it wouldn’t be fair to leave out its healthier counterpart: hemp. Derived from the same plant, hemp is used in an entirely different way (and isn’t considered a drug, for those concerned). On the contrary, Hemp is extremely high in just about every nutrient and can be used to balance hormones and improve digestion, metabolism, and joint pain. In fact, a single seed contains loads of GLA, vitamins, 21 amino acids, and an optimal 3:1 ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Furthermore, hemp can be purchased in an oil or as seeds, and can be sprinkled on or in just about anything. From protein bars to chocolate, to salads and on top of ice cream, there’s no food this little seed hasn’t, or [probably] won’t, see soon.
5. JACK FRUIT:
Known as the world’s largest tree fruit and weighing anywhere between 10 and 100 pounds, this unique tropical fruit has a distinct musky smell and delicious sweet taste. Containing a significant amount of vitamin A, vitamin C and flavonoid pigments, the Jack Fruit provides lots of antioxidant and vision support, and is great as an immunity booster. It’s also rich in B-complex vitamins, containing niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and folic acid, and is a source of minerals, such as iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese as well.
Thanks to the high amounts of fiber, Jack Fruit is also known as a digestive aid and works as a natural remedy to prevent constipation. Furthermore, it is low in calories and sodium, and does not contain cholesterol or unhealthy fats.
Many refer to the jackfruit tree as a wonder tree because every part of it has its own use. The fruits are consumed as food, the leaves are fed to livestock, the tree and branches are valued for the manufacture of wood products and the roots are utilized as medicine. Moreover, it’s become very popular in the vegan community thanks to the fact that cooking it for long periods of time turn the flesh into a pulled pork-like consistency. Jack Fruit can also be used in soup recipes, as chips, in jams and ice cream, or as flour.
6. MAQUI BERRIES:
With a less bitter taste and milder flavor than the touted acai and gogi berries, these lower-sugar cousins contain a big dose of antioxidants, are full of fiber, and have anti-inflammatory properties, minerals, and a large array of vitamins. They are also known to aid digestion, boost metabolism, and help to regulate blood sugar.
Most popular in a freeze-dried powdered form, Maqui Berries can be consumed much like acai — in breakfast bowls, smoothies, and juices. The powder can also be used in baking, on top of coconut ice cream, or in pretty much any other concoction that you can dream up.
7. MORINGA POWDER:
Move over Spirulina and Wheatgrass, there’s a new supergreen in town!
Classically known as moringa oleifera, this antiaging and anti-inflammatory plant is packed with all nine essential amino acids, powerful antioxidants, and a remarkable amount of iron, calcium, protein, and vitamin C. Furthermore, Moringa is said to help manage blood sugar, stabilize histamine production and even work as a fabulous energy booster (despite it being caffeine free).
As a food, Moringa is actually very versatile and can be sprinkled in smoothies or yogurt, baked in muffins and breads, or even used in salad dressing or pasta dishes. Just be aware that a little goes a long way and the taste can be quite bitter if you’re not careful.
Here’s a recipe for Moringa N’ Honey Crunchy Coconutty Granola Bars to help get you started on your Moringa journey. Please note that they are addicting [and actually won me one of the top finalist in Kuli Kuli’s Moringa Recipe Search].
8. TIGER NUTS:
One of the most unknown foods on this list, tiger nuts are quickly growing in fame thanks to their use in both sweet and savory recipes. As a small, raisin-shaped nut, Tiger Nuts contain high amounts of dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium and protein. They also have prebiotics, which aid in digestion, and are said to be a great source of magnesium – which is a natural muscle relaxer that helps maintain healthy kidneys as well as prevents menstrual issues in women.
Enjoy them roasted, compressed into a milk, or ground into a high protein flour.
9. WATERMELON SEEDS:
With all the other superfood seeds out there, including chia, pumpkin, and sesame, it’s time for a new seed to take over as head honcho – and it just might be watermelon seeds! A great source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, these tasty seeds also contain 31 grams of protein (per 1 cup serving), and are a fantastic source of magnesium and vitamin B.
However, you do need to make sure they are shelled and sprouted in order to get their full benefits, but once they are, you can enjoy them sprinkled over a breakfast bowl, yogurt, or salad, on their own, or roasted as a snack.
I hope this list will inspire you to get out and try some new superfoods, because it’s those small steps that make healthy living a lifestyle – so why not take one today?!
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