WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ Sold by Foxy Organic produce, BroccoLeaf is, as the name suggests, the broccoli plant’s leaves; it’s sweeter and a little juicier than kale (people compare the flavor to sugar snap peas). BroccoLeaf is bursting with vitamin K, vitamin C (which may help boost your immunity), folate, vitamin A, and calcium—and it’s got a decent amount of potassium and protein, too.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Sauté BroccoLeaf with garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes; serve as a side dish or fold into a frittata. A single BroccoLeaf also makes a great low-carb substitute for a flour tortilla.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ A mere ounce of these tart, purpleblack berries (you may also see them labeled by the less appealing name “chokeberries”) provides almost 20% of your daily fiber needs and 10% of your vitamin K. And because they’re native to North America, they don’t have to travel long distances to get to your plate, so they have a low carbon footprint. Aronia berries are also rich in certain antioxidants that, according to preliminary research, may help prevent body fat accumulation.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Fresh aronia berries can sometimes be found at your local farmer’s market; you can also buy them frozen online. Add them to pancakes, granola, oatmeal, or smoothies, or use them to make a marinade or sauce for fish or meat. If you can’t find the berries themselves, there are dozens of supermarket products that contain them, including jams, salsas, and juices.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ Also known as forbidden rice, black rice is rich in the antioxidant anthocyanin, which may help fight heart disease and cancer, according to preliminary studies. (Anthocyanin is the same antioxidant found in blueberries, another top superfood.) Black rice also provides vitamin E, fiber, protein, and minerals like magnesium.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Black rice is denser than white rice, so it’ll take longer to cook. It has a similar nutty flavor to brown rice, so you can use it in most dishes that call for brown rice. And don’t forget dessert: Black rice makes for a striking, elegant-looking rice pudding.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ Seaweed like kelp, nori, kombu, and wakame is the best food source of iodine, an element that’s essential for healthy thyroid function. Seaweed may also help you slim down. It contains a substance called alginate that, according to a recent study, could act like a fat blocker, reducing the amount of fat your body absorbs from a meal. And seaweed could help protect your heart, too: A review of almost 100 scientific studies published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that seaweed proteins can help lower blood pressure.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Order a seaweed salad with your sushi, or try one of the many brands of crunchy seaweed snacks. Dried seaweed (check Whole Foods Market or Asian supermarkets) can be reconstituted and added to smoothies, rice and grain recipes, fish dishes, and soups. And keep an eye out for one of Danny’s favorite low-cal pasta alternatives, kelp noodles, found in the refrigerator case.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ Compared to raw, filtered honey, unfiltered honey has not been sieved to remove anything that’s suspended in the honey. This includes pollen grains, pieces of beeswax or propolis (the brownish substance bees use to fill crevices in honeycombs), and air bubbles. Proponents of raw unfiltered honey like it for the same reason people like raw milk: They say it’s honey at its least processed and most wholesome. To date, however, there’s little to no research looking at how the nutritional profile of unfiltered honey compares to other types of honey. All honey has natural antimicrobial properties, and it can be used as a drug-free cough suppressant, too.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Use it anywhere you’d use honey—or in place of another natural sweetener. Just know that unfiltered honey is thicker than other types of honey.
Good to Know. Superfoods used to be ranked according to their “ORAC” values. Short for Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity, this test measured how effectively a food’s antioxidants could neutralize free radicals (molecules believed to cause damage to the body’s cells). You’ve probably seen labels on juices and other products boasting high ORAC scores. But the test wasn’t well-regulated or consistent, so in 2012 the USDA removed the ORAC database from its website, stating that “ORAC values are routinely misused by food and dietary supplement manufacturing companies to promote their products.” The USDA also noted that we still have a lot to learn about how antioxidants work in the human body—and what potential they have to fight disease.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ This spiky hot pink fruit, also known as pitaya, is actually a type of cactus. Rich in antioxidants, dragon fruit contains heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat (found in the seeds), iron, several B vitamins, and protein, too. It also provides calcium and phosphorous for strong bones and teeth.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Slice it in half and scoop out the white seeded flesh, which tastes a little like kiwi mixed with watermelon. Add it to fruit salad, yogurt, and smoothies. Navitas Naturals sells dried dragon fruit slices that you can snack on or add to trail mix.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ Okra contains fiber, magnesium, vitamin C, folate, and calcium. Preliminary research has shown that okra may help fight stress and fatigue and could help keep blood sugar levels steady, too.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Okra is well-known for containing a gel-like substance that’s an excellent thickening agent, which is why it’s a common ingredient in stews like gumbo. You can also slice okra into coins and toast them in a dry nonstick pan until golden and crispy. If you spot a jar of pickled okra at the farmer’s market or grocery store, grab it—pickled okra is delicious chopped up in chicken salad or as a Bloody Mary garnish.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ Currently trending because of the paleo movement, tiger nuts aren’t actually nuts; they’re tiny root vegetables. One serving provides 40% of your daily fiber needs as well as iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Tiger nuts are only about 2 calories each and contain resistant starch, which benefits the good bacteria in your gut and can help you lose weight.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Usually just eaten as a snack, tiger nuts are chewy with a coconut-like sweetness. You can also soak them in water to make your own horchata.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ A serving of watercress provides 22% of your vitamin A needs, more vitamin C than oranges, more iron than spinach, and a whopping 106% of your daily vitamin K (a nutrient that promotes healthy blood and bones). It may also help keep your skin looking youthful. And watercress is packed with a compound called PEITC (phenethyl isothiocyanate) that may help fight cancer.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Watercress has a peppery flavor that pairs well with eggs or smoked fish. It’s also delicious in soups or added to a sandwich with mild, creamy ingredients like butter or brie.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ This gluten-free flour is made from coffee fruit, which surrounds the coffee bean and is normally discarded. That’s a shame: Coffee fruit (also called the coffee cherry) has more potassium per gram than a banana, more iron than fresh spinach, and more fiber than wheat.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Famous pastry chefs like Dominique Ansel like coffee flour for its floral, fruity flavor. Pair it with any flour you normally use for baking—just swap out 10-25% of your usual flour for coffee flour. We think coffee flour would be delicious in chocolate chip cookies, muffins, and brownies. Heads up: These treats will give you a bit of a caffeine buzz: One teaspoon of coffee flour has 1/3 as much caffeine as a standard cup of coffee. If you can’t find it in stores, you can buy it online at coffeeflour.com.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ The excitement around matcha has been building for a while now and shows no signs of slowing down. A bright green powder made from ground up green tea leaves, matcha has more antioxidants than regular green tea. One study found that matcha has at least three times more EGCG, an antioxidant that may have anti-cancer properties. Matcha also contains the amino acid theanine, which may help relax you while keeping you alert, according to a 2008 study.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ You can of course use matcha to make a beverage. Or, whip up a batch of matcha muffins or brownies. Matcha can even be added to soup, stir frys, and guacamole. It’s also delicious sprinkled over popcorn.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ Himalayan salt is known for its pretty pink color. That hue comes from the dozens of minerals and elements it contains, including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and, of course, sodium. Advocates of Himalayan salt say it can help improve circulation, aid in proper metabolism functioning, and create an electrolyte balance, although there haven’t been any scientific studies conducted to back up these claims. At the very least, it’s less processed than standard table salt and doesn’t contain additives like anti-caking agents—it also has a milder flavor.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Himalayan salt can be used anywhere you’d use table salt. You can also buy Himalayan salt slabs, which are a fun way to serve meats, cheeses, and antipasti.
WHY IT’S A SUPERFOOD: ✪ This gluten-free grain is rich in calcium and resistant starch, a substance that feeds healthy gut bacteria, helps keep blood sugar levels steady, and can aid in weight loss. Teff is too tiny to process—it’s the size of a poppy seed—so it’s almost always eaten whole, which means you get a hearty dose of protein and fiber, plus vitamins and minerals like magnesium, vitamin B6, and zinc.
HOW TO USE IT: ✪ Teff is used to make the spongy Ethiopian bread known as injera (yum!). You can stir it into soups or sides, try it in a breakfast bowl with nuts and fruit, or use it to make gluten-free pancakes and breads. There are plenty of teff products on supermarket shelves, too, like teff wraps and teff granola.
Superfood – Hall of Fame
These once trendy foods have withstood the test of time, proving they’re more than just a proverbial flash in the pan.
POMEGRANATE SEEDS Tart and juicy, these little morsels are bursting with fiber and vitamin C.
QUINOA An excellent source of vegetarian protein, quinoa has become so popular and ubiquitous that even your greataunt Sally knows how to correctly pronounce its name.
KALE Yep, it’s on menus everywhere (heck, McDonald’s recently introduced kale salads in Canada). And yep, this vitamin-packed leafy green is here to stay.
BLUEBERRIES The original superfruit is still one of the richest sources of antioxidants. Plus, blueberries are delicious.
YOGURT Rich in probiotics, this will always be a breakfast staple, although we may flirt with different varieties (Greek yogurt one day, kefir the next).