10 Surprising and uncommon superfoods
1. Bulgur – Bulgur belongs to the wheat family and is rich in vitamins and nutrients. Chose this healthy substitute over its very distant cousin, white-refined-processed flour. Health benefits include: anti-inflammatory effects (buh-bye bloat) and high fiber content, aiding in maintaining a regular digestive system. Other great family members include Quinoa, buckwheat, oats, and spelt.
2. Acaí Berry– There has been a lot of buzz about the Acaí berry in the last few years. This South American berry, pronounced (ah-sigh-ee), is small and dark, similar to a blueberry. This superfruit contains the most antioxidants of any fruit plus also contains protein, fiber and Omega-fatty acids. In North America, the only way to get acaí is in juice, powder or pill form. Research is limited but studies have shown that the health benefits of consuming this exotic berry could help with arthritis, weight loss, detoxification, high cholesterol and improving general health.
3. Goji Berry – A lesser-known miracle berry, is the goji berry, which is said to be one of the most nutrient dense foods in the world. It is rumored to contain more vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots, and more iron than steak. It is also used in the Chinese culture for medicinal purposes to treat diseases and cure ailments.
4. Coconut oil – This is a healthier option to use rather than olive oil or butter. It satisfies hunger, stimulates your metabolism, and has fewer calories than any other fat. Coconut oil contains lauric acid and various other acids that boasts health benefits that can improve hair and skin care, relieve stress, assist in weight loss, strengthen teeth and bones and maintain cholesterol levels. See this video to learn more about the difference between coconut oil and other oils.
5. Leeks – Are a relatively uncommon veggie. This root veggie belongs to the allium family, along with its sibling’s garlic, onion, shallots and chives and all have very distinct, strong flavors. Among providing a good source of fiber, iron, folic acid and vitamins, leeks also contain a substance called kaempforal, which may help reduce ovarian cancer in women. They are also good for the blood, they contain diuretic properties and are fat-free and low in calories. Leeks can be used either in place of onions or shallots or can be added to soups and casseroles. I cooked them as a side dish (here) and they turned out great!
6. Kale – Kale is a more bitter tasting leafy green but it is low in calories and boasts incredible health stats. A rule of thumb is that the darker the color, the more vitamins and nutrients it contains. Kale is often described as the healthiest vegetable. It is a great detoxifier for the body and can help regulate cholesterol.
7. Flax – Flax is a small nutty flavored seed that can also be bought ground or in oil form. Its high omega 3 fatty acid content gives it its anti-inflammatory effect, protects and strengthens your bones, and fights heart disease, high-blood pressure and diabetes.
8. Chia seeds – The Chia seed is like the new kid in town. Foodies and nutritionists have been touting this wonder-seeds nutritional stats like crazy lately. Dr. Oz mentioned these on the Oprah Winfrey Show because it is considered a complete protein, it has five times the amount of calcium that milk has and is an excellent source of soluble fiber. It used for weight loss because it fills you up quickly cutting calorie intake by half but leaving you satisfied and nutrient rich. It is also used for endurance because of the way it reacts with sugar. You can put chia seeds on your salad, mixed in with wheat or veggie dishes or grind it up and mix it in with your coffee, smoothie, soup or juice.
9. Cupuachu – This exotic fruit belongs to the cacao family. It is about the size of a watermelon and has a creamy exotic pulp in the middle. While it has a myriad of health benefits the primary ones include a high content of polyphenols, antioxidants and vitamins and minerals that help boost the immune system and lower blood pressure. One of amazing benefits of this exotic fruit is that it has caffeine-like effects but contains no caffeine. This will help speed the metabolism and give you natural energy. It is also great for healthy skin and hair and a better libido ;)
10. Spirulina – Is often referred to as a kind of algae and is most commonly sold in tablet or powder form. It is one of the lesser known superfoods on this list but it is definitely worth learning about. With more protein than most meat and fish products, this ultra superfood also packs powerful antioxidant power as well as essential vitamins and nutrients. This is a raw food diet favorite and is most often used in fresh juices and smoothies.
Do you use any of these in your diet or have you ever? If so, how? Do you have any other uncommon or surprising superfoods to add to this list? There are so many it's hard to pick just 10!