Kombucha, acai, and quinoa – the fuss about the new generation of superfoods

Very rarely is the latest craze in superfoods a new food at all; they are almost always very old foods. Our recent discoveries and current trends in food have often been around for thousands of years, some of them even defined as ancient.

They go out of fashion across decades and we forget about them, or else they have only ever been popular with indigenous cultures and hadn’t yet made it into the mainstream. But these superfoods are not new, but rather very, very old.

What are Superfoods?

Superfoods are those marketed as having health benefits, which if we think about it could include every food sold in Eric’s store!

Usually, to get the name ‘Superfood’, an ingredient needs to go a bit above and beyond, having multiple different health benefits and being generally better for you than the average food. High in nutrient content, they are usually high in antioxidants as well, with special sickness fighting powers.

Some superfoods you are probably very familiar with, for example, blueberries, salmon, avocado and broccoli. But there might be a few that are new to you.

Kombucha

What is it?

An ancient drink that was originally popular in China over 2000 years ago, it is a fermented beverage made from a tea and sugar base. It has a vinegary taste, sort of like sour apple cider.

Why is it good for you?

With reported detoxifying and energizing properties, the fermentation process takes the special powers of green or black tea and super-sizes them. Full of healthy bacteria called probiotics, the drink can reduce stress, improve mood, help with weight loss and boost your immune system.

What are some great ways to enjoy it?

Just a pleasant cool refreshing drink with a fruity fizziness to it, it is a great alternative to soda. Most kombucha drinks have things added, so make sure you check out the sugar content before drinking too much of it.

Acai

What is it?

A tiny purple berry native to South America and a secret of the indigenous people from that part of the world until relatively recently.

Difficult to get a hold of in its fresh form, you would usually buy acai either dried, powdered, frozen or in tablet form.

Why is it good for you?

Acai is high in antioxidants and believed to be wonderful for weight-loss and anti-aging properties as well as good for fighting cancer and heart disease. It is also one of few fruits in the world high in oleic acid, a heart-healthy fat also found in olives.

What are some great ways to enjoy it?

Acai juice can have a lot of added sugar, so it may be best to enjoy these berries in frozen or dried form. You can add them to your smoothie ingredients for a great start to the day.

Goji berries

What is it?

Another exotic berry, this one is orange-red and from Tibet and Inner Mongolia.

Why is it good for you?

Very high in vitamin C and plant-based antioxidants, goji berries have been popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries to boost circulation and the immune system and to treat visual problems.

What are some great ways to enjoy it?

Mostly goji berries are available in dried and powdered form. Look for them dried and covered in dark chocolate as an awesome mid-afternoon energy snack.

Quinoa

What is it?

An ancient grain, it is technically a pseudo-cereal, or a seed. From South America, the Incan people have known about the benefits of quinoa forever.

Quinoa is available in white, red and black varieties. It is easy to grow and apparently has been considered by NASA as something that can be grown in outer space.

Why is it good for you?

Gluten-free and high in protein, it is great for celiacs, vegans and vegetarians, as well as people on low-carb diets. It has lovely filling properties so makes a good alternative to pasta, bread or rice. High in essential amino acids, fiber, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, antioxidants, and vitamins B and E.

What are some great ways to enjoy it?

Enjoy it the same way you would any grain, so quinoa is great in salads, breakfasts and in dishes like fried ‘rice’.

Hemp seeds

What is it?

Hemp seeds contain almost no trace of the psychoactive properties that we are familiar with when we talk about the marijuana plant. Hemp ‘hearts’ do come from the same plant and are great for use as a grain.

Why is it good for you?

High in protein, magnesium, potassium, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and amino acids. Because hemp seeds are a great source of plant-based protein they are great for vegan diets.

What are some great ways to enjoy it?

They have a lovely mild, nutty flavor, sort of between sunflower seeds and pine nuts – which makes them very versatile. You can use them in any way you would use seeds or crushed nuts, so you can sprinkle them on soups or salads, mix them into smoothies or breakfast cereals or even use them to make pesto.

Kale

What is it?

A dark, leafy green vegetable that has many uses similar to spinach, once again this ‘new’ food has been known about for centuries, this time being first popular with the ancient Romans. Part of the cabbage family, it comes in a number of different varieties, with each one tasting a little different.

Why is it good for you?

High in protein, fiber, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals including calcium, potassium, and zinc, and vitamins A. C and K. It has all the special powers of the leafy green vegetables and then some more, so is a great source of protein and healthy fatty acids for vegans and vegetarians.

What are some great ways to enjoy it?

Available fresh it is great either fresh in salads or cooked such as roasted or tossed in oil. Kale chips are awesome. You can add it to smoothies, soup or even pasta sauce.

 

For more information on superfoods, new and old, pop in and chat to the staff at Eric’s today.

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