Remember the days of “Eat your fruits and veggies”? Well, that advice is still good, but today’s discerning, health-conscious consumer demands more than just “good.”
Super-foods are the rock stars of the food world, powerhouses of nutrition. They’re rich in macronutrients and trace elements like magnesium, manganese, iodine, and iron, according to Gretchen Schoonover, a registered dietitian at Westchester Medical Center. “They’re not over-produced or processed,” she says, “so the valuable nutrients don’t leech out and your body is getting the important things it needs to function at its best.”
Below are five trending super foods that we love:
A relative of the radish, this root vegetable is grown in central Peru, where its root is used to make medicine to treat ailments like anemia and chronic-fatigue syndrome. It’s rich in fatty acids and amino acids, with an aroma similar to butterscotch. For eating, it can be baked or roasted or added to a soup. Fresh maca is not typically available in the US, but is more likely to be found locally in powder form, to blend into smoothies, baked goods, or cereal.
This grain is ground from the seeds of its tall, bushy, flowering plant. In medicine, the plant is used to treat ulcers, diarrhea, and a swollen throat. The grains, usually prepared as a cereal, can range from cream-colored to nearly black and are high in protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. In studies, it’s been found to have potentially cholesterol-lowering properties. To prepare, gently boil for 15 to 20 minutes before draining, using at least six cups of water for every cup of grain.
3. Fermented Foods
Your gut holds the secret to your health—at least when it comes to its healthy bacteria, which play a role in everything from improved digestion to boosted immunity. That’s why fermented foods are gaining in popularity: They’re packed with probiotics – good bacteria that live in the gut. Any vegetable can be fermented, and kimchi is a popular and well-liked type; it’s made from cabbage to which red pepper, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce are added. You can make it yourself or pick up a jar in specialty or Asian supermarkets.
This type of seaweed is a valuable source of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. According to the National Institutes of Health, it’s one of the best natural food sources of iodine, essential for optimal thyroid function. Kelp also contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium, according to Schoonover. “It’s easily incorporated into soups and stews—and even comes in noodle form.”
5. Bone Broth
Make your own from leftover carcass bones by simply simmering them in lots of water for about 24 hours, then straining to remove any remaining fragments. Some experts say adding about 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water helps leech the valuable minerals from the bones, and they claim that it can help promote healthy digestion, as well as fight inflammation and promote strong, healthy bones because of its high calcium, amino acids, and magnesium content.