For many of us, 2016 was a doozy, but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2017! Follow our Hit Refresh series through January for new ideas, hacks and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.
If you’re into eating healthy, you’ve probably heard of superfoods. While some superfood trends aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, there are certain foods and spices that actually do have real, tangible health benefits. This year, we learned about turmeric, spirulina and algae, but in 2017 there’ll be a whole new group of superfoods on the block. To find out what they’re going to be, we polled an expert group of nutritionists. Keep reading to check out their predictions for what’s next in highly functional food.
1. Jackfruit: “This starchy fruit is very fibrous, in a similar way to apples and pineapples,” says dietician Jennifer Pullman, founder of Nourished Simply. “Jackfruit is often used as a meat alternative because of its meaty texture,” and it’s extra easy to cook with it, she says, since it “takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with.” With vegetarianism and veganism becoming more and more popular, it makes sense that a new meat substitute would gain popularity.
2. Collagen: “Whether the collagen supplement comes from beef or fish, collagen as a superfood will continue to become more mainstream,” says Corey Friese, co-founder of Vital Proteins. So why is it becoming so popular? “There’s a good amount of clinical research published on orally ingested collagen and how it effects skin, bone and joint health,” Friese explains. “All of these studies have reported statistically significant differences before and after taking collagen.” So yeah, it’s pretty effective. And you can mix it right into your food. Try throwing a scoop into pasta sauce or your morning coffee.
3. Moringa: “Most of the parts of a Moringa tree are edible,” says Pullman, meaning the ways you can eat it are virtually endless. “The seeds can be used as peas, pods like green beans and leaves used in similar ways to other green leafy vegetables. The leaves are also ground into a powder, which can be added to drinks.” So what are the benefits here? “Moringa is a rich source of antioxidants like vitamin A and C, as well as fiber. It’s also an amazing source of phytochemicals.” Never heard of those? Pullman explains that they’re “substances that appear to provide health benefits beyond that of vitamins and minerals.” Basically, phytochemicals are what make superfoods so “super.”
4. Black Pepper: Who knew something you probably already have in your kitchen could be considered a superfood? “Black pepper has a compound in it called piperine, which increases the body’s absorption of the active compounds in other spices like turmeric. So it makes sense that they’re traditionally eaten together!” notes dietician Ellie Krieger. “Black pepper also has been shown to help with digestion by increasing the flow of digestive juices. Use black pepper liberally on your food, especially when you use other spices like curry powder and turmeric. You’ll reap benefits whenever you eat it, but ideally, include it in your daily diet.”
5. Maca Root: “Maca is a root that grows in some of the harshest and coldest areas of the Andes Mountains in Peru,” says Rebecca Lewis, an in-house dietician at HelloFresh. “There are different types of maca root — black, red and yellow — which are typically ground into a powder and have a nutty and earthy flavor.” Maca is considered an adaptogen, a substance that provides support to the adrenal glands, which release hormones that are varied depending on our stress levels. Basically, adaptogens can help you deal with stress better.
“Maca is often used to enhance energy, stamina, performance and memory. Those who consume maca also state they feel a sense of well-being and improvement in mood, which is thought to be due to its ability to balance hormones and facilitate release of ‘feel good’ endorphins,” notes Lewis. “The edible portion of the maca plant is composed of approximately 15 percent protein and is a good source of essential amino acids, as well as being a good source of vitamins B1, B2, C and E and the minerals iron and calcium.” That’s a *whole* lot of bang for your buck.
6. Camu Camu: “The camu camu berry is native to the Amazon rainforest and contains more vitamin C than any other food in the world,” says Lewis. In fact, it has 60 times the amount of vitamin C found in an orange. Crazy! “Since vitamin C is critical for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body, adding camu powder to your smoothies will boost wound healing and contribute to fresh and beautiful skin.” she says. “Additionally, camu is a good source of antioxidants, phytochemicals and amino acids, as well as beta-carotene and potassium. It has a tart berry flavor which tastes delicious added to smoothies or even mixed into water on its own. Peruvians even use it to flavor their ice cream!” Did someone say ice cream!?
7. Hibiscus: Research suggests that hibiscus potentially lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, says dietician Monica Auslander. “It’s very high in vitamin C and is best brewed into a tea,” she notes. “It has a sweet, flowery flavor and is a great way to fit in extra ounces toward a fluid goal. You can soak the tea bags in overnight oats to get that hibiscus flavor into another food as well.” Sounds incredible.
8. Sardines: You might not be super psyched about the idea of eating sardines, but hear us out. “They’re the most underrated little fish!” says Auslander. “Since they’re so tiny, they don’t eat other fish and are rather low in mercury, but VERY high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, phosphorus, copper and vitamin D.” Wow, that’s a lot of good stuff in such a tiny piece of food. “They’re very cheap, keep for years in a can and are an excellent instant dinner mashed onto whole wheat toast with lemon, tomato and basil. They’re a great pizza topper, salad addition and appetizer.”
9. Nori: Nori is the same thing as the seaweed you see in your sushi, and while Auslander says algae was all the rage this year, nori is going to overtake it in 2017. “Its dark green color lends it a potent antioxidant load: vitamin A, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C. It’s also a rich source of iodine, which is implicated in thyroid health, and it has virtually no carbohydrates (or even calories). It’s a great substitute for a bread wrap,” she says. Good idea!
Have you tried any of these superfoods? Tell us what you think of them @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)