Our guide to some of the most popular and on-trend superfoods right now!
Quinoa grows in the mountains of Peru, and has been eaten since ancient times. It is an alternative to rice and is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. It contains all 8 essential amino acids. Quinoa cooks in 10 minutes and is ideal in salads, alongside curries or in soups.
There is increasing evidence that chocolate has beneficial effects. Cocoa is rich in antioxidants and may have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. Key to many of these benefits is theobromine, which is present in cocoa. However, cocoa is normally roasted and chemically treated (alkalised) for longevity, which can reduce its theobromine content. Raw cacao depicted here is the non-roasted, non-alkalised form of cocoa, with a higher theobromine content and a fuller flavour.
Chia seeds have a surprising trick up their sleeve! When mixed with water, they form a thick gel. This helps to fill the stomach and slow the digestion, which can help those on a weight-loss diet. In addition, chia seeds have high levels of beneficial omega oils and are also high in fibre and protein.
Coconut oil is high in Lauric Acid which has been attributed to good results in managing cholesterol levels. It can be used as a substitute for butter and frying oil, and a deodorised coconut oil is available which has all of the goodness without any coconut flavour.
Matcha is a traditional Japanese form of green tea. It’s full of antioxidants, and also contains a mild amount of caffeine – for a pick-me-up without the headaches. Matcha has also been shown to be helpful in fighting infections and promoting a sense of calm due to the presence of the amino acid L-theanine.
Goji berries are a well-known health food, containing a wide range of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Goji berries are also surprisingly high in protein, containing all 8 essential amino acids. Go for the organic goji berries for the sweetest flavour; they can be added to desserts, fruit-and-nut mixes, or rehydrated and added to smoothies.
Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3, and are hence an alternative to cod liver oil for vegetarians. Flax seeds also help with the digestion and are high in fibre and antioxidants. Sprinkle flax seeds into breakfast cereals or add to smoothies.
Bee pollen is around 40% protein, and is packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and omega fatty acids. Bee pollen has a mild sweetness and can be added to desserts, smoothies or breakfast cereals. It can also be eaten straight off the spoon!
Maca is the mineral-rich root of a plant related to broccoli, cabbage and radish, and comes in powdered form. It’s actually sweet with a sort of biscuity butterscotch flavour, and can thus be added to sweet recipes, breakfasts or smoothies and milkshakes. As well as being high in iron, calcium and zinc, maca is high in protein and fibre.
Although relatively unheard of here, Lucuma is something that South Americans go crazy for; it’s one of the most popular ice-cream flavourings in Peru. Lucuma is high in beta-carotene, iron, zinc and vitamin B3. It’s a sweet ingredient that tastes good in desserts and confectionery.
Turmeric is often taken as a supplement due to its high circumin content. There is increasing evidence that circumin is beneficial in reducing inflammation, and that it is an antioxidant. It’s easy to use – simply stir into a curry (the traditional use for turmeric), or add to a smoothie.
Baobab is a fantastic way of adding fibre and vitamin C to the diet. It’s over 50% fibre, and is convenient to use in its powdered form shown here. It has a sweet taste, so is great for stirring into drinks.