The term “superfoods” induces the occasional eye-roll from those who shun them for their trendy status, high prices and outlandish cure-all claims. You may get teased by friends, who say you are getting cheated of your money when you can get the same health benefits from a handful of spinach.
But one thing is for certain – superfoods are packed with vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients that are good for your health. Sure, they may be over-marketed by the health food industry and demand a premium compared to your daily multi-vitamin tablets. And they have probably existed and have been used for centuries in traditional medicine before they were thrown into the mainstream limelight.
But there is no harm in trying new foods and supplementing your everyday diet with them. Who knows? You may end up adding turmeric to your teas every morning.
Here are some new superfoods that you will likely see more of in 2020.
Adaptogens sound like an incurable disease that adapts to your DNA makeup and kills you slowly. But in actuality, it is just a term naturopaths use for a bunch of herbs and medicinal mushrooms. Adaptogens are named such because of their abilities to adapt to your body’s needs. So if you are feeling stressed, consuming adaptogens will help your body cope a little better.
Eastern medicine has always used certain herbs and roots for centuries – way before they were called adaptogens by the Western natural health community. Ginseng, holy basil and ashwagandha are some herbs frequently used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic disciplines for their purported health benefits. Ginseng, for instance, is recommended as an antioxidant, as an energy boost, as well as a way to control blood sugar levels.
These days, adaptogens are sold in tea sachets, powders and even gummy candies, for those who don’t have the time to brew herbal teas. But before you go on an adaptogen shopping spree, note that scientific evidence of their benefits or their effects are lacking and everyone reacts to the herbs differently. So don’t expect a miracle cure-all.
Cacao husk tea
If consuming caffeinated drinks each morning is giving you heart palpitations, perhaps it’s time to go on a caffeine break. You could instead try brewing a morning tea out of cacao husks, which are basically husks collected from roast cacao beans after they have been cracked open during the chocolate-making process. They are sold at artisan chocolatiers or at health food stores.
Cacao possesses a high dose of magnesium and antioxidants, which makes cacao husk teas a nutritious beverage to start the day with. It also contains theobromine, which is a natural stimulant gentler than caffeine. So if you want a slight perk-me-up without the harsh crashes that caffeine brings on, you may want to try cacao husk tea.
Their complex notes are comparable to those of coffee, so coffee aficionados will likely appreciate cacao husk teas for the complex taste notes and a hint of dark chocolate it carries. If green tea and herbal teas don’t appeal to you due to their unsophisticated taste, a cacao husk tea may do the trick! Brew it with a French press or in a pot and add spices like cinnamon or dried orange for an interesting twist.
Like adaptogens, nervines is a term coined by naturopaths. They describe a subset of herbs that have various effects on the nervous system, hence the word nervines. Nervines are grouped into three groups, namely nervine tonics, which help strengthen the nervous system; nervine relaxers, which help to reduce anxiety; and nervine stimulants, which promotes energy and alertness.
Some examples of nervine tonics include Indian borage, oats and periwinkle. Lavender, chamomile and lemon balms are types of nervine relaxers, while coffee and black or green tea are considered nervine stimulants. They are widely available as teas, supplements and oils if you can’t get your hands on any fresh herbs.
Macadamia’s buttery taste, keto and vegan-friendly nutritional profile, and rarity make it the most expensive nut in the world. It takes 7 to 10 years for a macadamia tree to bear fruit, which contributes to its hefty price of $25 per 500 grams.
When compared with more popular nuts like peanuts, almonds and cashews, macadamias contain the highest levels of healthy monounsaturated fats and lower lectins, the latter of which reduce nutrient absorption. They also contain high levels of Omega-7 fatty acids, which have been scientifically proven to fight diabetes.
Some food companies are working hard to position macadamia nuts as the next superfood. Through its Kickstarter campaign, House of Macadamia aims to make macadamia nuts more accessible through its range of nut butters and nut bars, while sourcing the nuts direct from its farmers in South Africa.
Move aside, spirulina. Chlorella is the new algae in town. Its dense nutritional profile makes it a superfood, and like spirulina, it can be consumed as a powder or a capsule.
Chlorella is about 50 per cent protein, which makes it a great protein source for vegans. It is also high in iron, vitamin C and anti-oxidants. It is also said to improve skin function as it is packed with vitamin B, magnesium and zinc.
The only downside to superfood algae like chlorella and spirulina is its grass-like taste. While you can consume it in capsule form, they aren’t as easily digested when compared with its more potent powdered version. One way to make chlorella more palatable is to blend the powder in a smoothie made up of bananas and other types of fruits high in natural sugars, to mask its strong taste. Or sprinkle it onto your breakfast cereal or avocado toast.