If you were asked to name a superfood, we’re betting you might say quinoa. And if you were to rattle off a few more, you might mention goji berries, chia seeds or if it was 2009, acai.
The term “superfood” is as overused as its meaning, nutritional powerhouse. Everyone’s constantly on the lookout out for the next greatest miracle food that is packed with vitamins and antioxidants — the answer to everyone’s health problems. But what really is a superfood? The truth is that the term “superfood” isn’t officially supported by the medical community at all. It’s a marketing term… and it sure is working.
Superfoods are, according to the dictionary, quite simply “nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” That could qualify a lot of foods — from the common ones we all know well, like blueberries and broccoli, to the trendy ones (ahem, quinoa and kale) to ones we never would have considered. Some we may not be familiar with at all, others we didn’t know were even edible, and still others just mystify us altogether. Essentially, people are naming a whole lot of what we eat “superfoods” — so many so that we’re learning of new ones seemingly every day.
Here are seven superfoods we’ve never heard of:
Women’s Health & Fitness Magazine deemed chlorella a new superfood for 2014. Chlorella is a fresh water algae plant that is consumed in the form of a liquid extract, powder or supplements. It’s high in vitamin B-12, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin K and antioxidants. Research is still being done for more definitive answers about this algae’s health benefits.
Prevention Magazine is calling black soybeans a superfood to watch in 2014. These beans are black on the outside but yellowish on the inside, like regular soy beans, and they are used in Japanese cooking. According to Prevention Magazine, they could potentially aid in weight-loss. We’re going to have to wait on more research on that, too…
This Ethiopian grain has a mildly nutty flavor and… wait for it… is gluten-free. It’s no wonder, then, that people are wondering if it’s the next hot superfood. The tiny grain is high in protein — with 50 percent more protein than brown rice — and it’s also high in calcium and iron. Did we mention it’s also gluten-free?
4- Canary Seeds
This is definitely a new one. Bird feed? Well, a few years ago, we’re not sure who would have believed that the same chia seed of Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pets would be appearing in everything from puddings to bottled drinks. Prevention Magazine named canary seeds a superfood to watch out for in 2014, citing a 2013 study by the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggesting that canary seeds “bred specifically for human consumption” could make a good, gluten-free cereal. Typically, these seeds are inedible for humans because of tiny hairs that we couldn’t eat, but the study’s author, Joyce Irene Boye, and her colleagues have been researching a new, “hairless” variety. We may just want to leave canary seeds to the birds. But, to each his own.
Men’s Fitness calls pichuberries a new superfood. According to Manuel Villacorta, M.S., R.D., author of “Peruvian Power Foods,” they are high in Vitamin D. Villacorta has touted the health benefits of pichuberries to Colorado’s 9News and Fox News Latino.
Another berry that’s contending for a spot in the superfood hall of fame is the buffaloberry. The Journal of Food Science released a study in 2013 saying that these berries contain phenolic antioxidants and carotenoids — specifically one called lycopene, which is also found in tomatoes. According to Business Insider, buffaloberries are sweet and have high levels of acidity, which makes them both good for eating and making into wine. These berries grow in North and South Dakota, which is at least one thing these states have going for them.
7- Sacha inchi
Registered dietician Manuel Villacorta also stands by Sacha inchi, seeds from an Amazonian fruit tree that are roasted and eaten whole or pressed into oil. Also known as Incan Peanuts, these seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.