Jameel is a new online writer, who specializes in writing articles about healthy eating and nutrition.
A superfood is generally a plant based product such as a root, tuber, or fruit that is largely considered to contain more than the average amount of nutrients, hence making them especially good for the body. Examples of more well-known superfoods include kale, avocado, acai berries, and salmon. But, there are many more lesser known foods that also deserve the superfood label.
Superfoods You Haven't Tried Yet
- Camu Camu
The moringa is a medium sized flowering tree that is native to the humid forests of South Asia. Known also as the drumstick tree for the shape of its long, thin seed pods, the moringa is packed full of calicum, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, beta carotene and protein, making its leaves a healthy addition to anyone's diet.
Known to the natives for thousands of years, moringa has been used to treat a wide variety of common ailments, such as headaches, arthritis, respiratory problems, anemia, digestive orders, inflammation, and the speedy healing of open cuts. Moringa is and has been throughout history, popular with those who are physically active in their day to day life. Tribal societies have ingested its leaves before war and today, modern athletes use it to boost their endurance levels.
Moringa is most commonly ordered or purchased in the form of a ground up powder. It is easy to consume; simply add a teaspoon to your smoothie, tea, soup. One can even mix it into stews or curries.
Sunchokes, known also as the Jerusalem artichoke, sunroot or earth apple is a relative of the sunflower and is native to the eastern side of the North American continent. It was cultivated widely by the Native Americans before westerners first arrived and the practice was subsequently continued by the first European settlers, for the humble plant's edible tubers are brimming with benefits.
The gnarled, twisted tubers are a source of fructooligosaccharide, a type of carb which, thanks to a quirk of chemistry, prevents our stomach's enzymes from fully breaking them down in our digestive tracts, allowing them to be instead fermented further in our colon. For those of you not familiar with the jargon of chemists, basically this means that they still contribute to the required intake of fiber whilst at the same time releasing less calories.
Sunchokes are also known to boost immunity, and the faintly sweet tubers are excellent for the countless bacteria that we need in our gut. They can be prepared very similarly to potatoes—boiled, fried or roasted, whatever you prefer.
Amaranth was a staple of the pre-conquest South Americans; it is believed this humble grain represented about 80% of the Aztec diet before the arrival of the Spanish. Today, amaranth is still widely used across the south of this continent, but few people in other nations will have heard of it. Unlike its more famous, distant cousin—quinoa—amaranth has not gripped the mind of the international community... yet.
This tiny grain contains more protein and fiber than brown rice and wheat and is a tremendous source of a long list of vital vitamins and nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium and phosphorus. The leaves, when cooked, are a rich source of vitamins A and C, more calcium, manganese, iron and selenium. It is also a natural source of an anti-cholesterol reducing nutrient named phytosterol. Not surprisingly, given the heady mixture within, it is an excellent choice for those wishing to stave of heart disease.
Not too bad for a small shrub that on first glance appears like little more than a weed.
4. Camu Camu
Camu camu or cacari is a small, river-loving tree that haunts the Amazon rainforest and is coveted for the small purple-red fruit that it bears. It can be found in the lowlands of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia and has been long regarded as a prized commodity by the locals for its strong anti-bacterial and reportedly anti-viral properties.
The small, cherry-like fruit are a natural cocktail of nutrients—as much as 4% of the weight of the fresh fruit is vitamin C, whilst the remainder includes a mixture of amino acids such as leucine, valine and serine, all with important tasks within the body, contributing to the growth and repair of bone and muscle tissue. Athletes love the Amazonian delicacy, as they greatly enhance their body's natural ability to repair itself after intense bouts of activity.
Camu camu is best ingested in powder form. The fruit is incredibly sour and definitely an acquired taste, and this superfood is much easier to consume when mixed through drinks or sprinkled over muesli.
Maca or Peruvian ginseng, is the only rarity on this list. Before the 1980s this root vegetable was found exclusively in a small mountain range in the high Andes of Peru. Known to the Inca warriors of old, it was consumed as a pre-battle energy drink for it was believed to galvanize warriors, giving them the energy to prevail.
An interesting alternative to caffeine, maca also has positive effects on depression, anemia, chronic fatigue and some say, even fertility, although this has yet to be proved by science. Unlike caffeine based drinks such as coffee and tea, excessive use of maca does not put a strain on the adrenal glands.
Maca is usually found as a dried powder, although if you have the access to it, it can be cooked fresh. It is a distant relative of the radishes although it more closely resembled a turnip, and can be prepared in a similar fashion. The dried, powdered form can either be further processed into a super-healthy flour that can be used to bake, or simply added to drinks and smoothies as a more traditional dietary supplement.
- "Amaranthaceae | plant family". Encyclopædia Britannica. June 2. 2015.
- "USDA National Nutrient Database: cooked amaranth grain per 100 grams; Full report". 2014.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.