Image source: Flickr
Like anyone concerned about their health, you’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about superfoods in places such as my book, Super Foods and Super Recipes, and other recipe books. While there’s no official definition for what a superfood is, the term is generally used to refer to any ingredient with a high concentration of essential nutrients and minerals. In addition to the five nutritional powerhouses I included in my book, there are many more, including these four which you may want to keep stocked in your pantry for easy meal prep.
These little purple berries, (pronounced ah-sigh-ee if you were wondering) are native to the sprawling rain forests of South America, and have been popular as a weight-loss and anti-aging food for some time. They contain remarkably high levels of antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which are known to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. They’re also one of the very few fruits containing oleic acid, the same heart-friendly fat that you’ll find in olive oil. It can be pretty hard to find fresh açai, but you can still reap its excellent health benefits from a number of different dried and powdered products. Just be wary of purchasing pre-made or commercially prepared juices and smoothies, as many will have lots of added sugar.
Quinoa has exploded in popularity in recent years as a superfood, and I, as well as many other food bloggers, are including it in recipes (such as these veggie burgers) and restaurant menus all over the place. These grains with a distinct, slightly nutty taste, can be added to a wide range of meals, and offer a huge amount of nutritional benefit in just a small serving. Quinoa is bursting with protein, fiber and minerals such as iron and magnesium, and it’s naturally free of gluten. Buy quinoa in bulk (either red or white or other variations), learn to use it as a substitute for grains or carbs, and then start getting all the great nutrition these tiny grains can offer.
Hulled Hemp Seeds
These are one of the lesser-known superfoods, and a lot of chefs still consider them pretty unconventional. However, hulled hemp seeds can be added to a number of salads and stews without altering the flavor too drastically, all the while giving you an excellent dose of protein. Hemp seeds typically deliver a massive 10 grams of protein in a serving of only 3 tablespoons, making them one of the best possible additions to gluten-free or vegan diets. Start getting hemp seeds in your diet, and you’ll be amazed at how versatile they can be as a superfood ingredient in lots of different recipes.
Though they were once relatively unknown in the west, goji berries are now an extremely common sight on our supermarket shelves, as well as a popular superfood ingredient in a range of tasty recipes. These tangy, red berries from Tibet and Mongolia are bursting with vitamin C, and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat vision impairments and poor circulation. While some of the claims made about these berries are scientifically shaky, there’s no denying that they’re full of natural antioxidants and helpful compounds. Aside from dried whole goji berries, there are a range of drinks and supplements to try as well.