Superfoods you didn't know about
If there's a way to live longer, stave off ageing and even lose weight, wouldn't you want to know about it? That's where superfoods come in.
They've been applauded for their disease-fighting properties and as the elixir for ever-youthful skin, so we wouldn't be surprised if you've already stocked up on superberries like acai and the leafy green kale. But we think there's probably a few you have yet to hear about. Enter farro, maca and umeboshi - ring a bell? If not, read on to learn about these not-so-common superfoods and more...
The ancient wheat grain is similar in taste and texture to that of barley. It's full of vitamins B and E and is rich in magnesium - great for the relief of constipation, cramping and headaches. Cook it up the same way as rice and enjoy in salads or as a side to your main meal.
When you think of hemp, a few not so healthy things might spring to mind, but hemp is now readily available (and safe to eat) in the form of seeds, powder and milk. Hemp is full of protein and fibre - great for digestion - and essential fatty acids like Omega 6 and Omega 3, known for their heart health benefits and anti-inflammatory properties.
The seeds have a soft texture and a slight nutty flavour and taste great sprinkled over cereal, salads, in smoothies or even on their own.
The underwater superfood, kelp is a part of the seaweed clan. It's rich in vitamins C, B1, B2, and B12, iron, calcium, magnesium, and contains some zinc and selenium. It's also the seaweed with the most idoine, which is important for a healthy thyroid function, metabolism and is known to have anti-cancer effects.
It has a salty flavour and dried kelp flakes taste great as a seasoning on salads.
Umeboshi, meaning dried salty plums in Japanese, is the ultimate superfood. Unlike ordinary plums, these need to be dried and pickled before they're edible. Because of their strong acidic component they're highly alkalising, making them great for stimulating digestion, removing toxins from the body and reducing fatigue.
They're definitely an acquired taste being very salty and tangy in flavour. You can use it to replace salt in stock or dishes, eat whole (but beware!) or buy umeboshi paste that you can spread on toast with avocado.
The (very) green superfood that comes from the moringa tree might just be one of the most nutritious foods going around. It contains more vitamins than carrots, more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk and more potassium than bananas! Not to mention it has thousands more of the anti-aging nutrient zeatin than any other plant.
You might find it difficult to get your hands on the fresh leaves, but moringa powder or tea is available from most health food stores. Just pop it into your usual smoothies or drinks.
Maca powder comes from a root that belongs to the radish family grown in Peru. Packed with nutritionally rich substances - vitamin B vitamins, C, E, calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids - it can be a great supplement to your daily diet just by adding it to your smoothies.
Above all else, maca provides you with energy. But it is also great for sexual function and is often used to improve mood and offer relief for women's problems like cramping.
This rice-like grain is a great source of protein, with one cup containing about 28 grams of protein. It's also very high fibre, calcium, iron and is a great alternative for any gluten-free eaters.
Eat it instead of rice, add to soups or you can even try eating it for breakfast instead of your oats - just add your favourite nuts and spices to give it a sweeter taste.