Here Are This Year’s 4 Biggest Superfood Trends

The word “superfood” is thrown around a lot on the internet, and it can be somewhat ambiguous. The label can be applied to many kinds of nutrient-rich foods, but the ones that stand out are those with the highest nutrient concentration. Every year, there are select superfoods that gain attention, which serves as a great opportunity to try something new. Getting people excited about eating broccoli? Tough. But getting them excited about mushrooms smoothies? That’s when the ears perk up. Here are four groups of superfoods to look out for in 2018.

Disclaimer: With any of these superfoods, it is important to first ask your doctor if they are safe for you to consume. Based on medical history, some foods and powders can have negative drug interactions or effects on the body.


Super Seeds

Watermelon seeds

Though they are not something you’d want to eat straight from the fruit, when dried and roasted, watermelon seeds make a great snack, and you might see them popping up in different products.

What makes them super?

Just one cup of roasted watermelon seeds contains thirty grams of protein, which is more than four ounces of chicken. It’s also is a great source of B-vitamins, including niacin, which help promote a healthy nervous system, digestive system and skin. They are also a good source of magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure and keep bones strong.

How do you incorporate them into your diet?

Some companies are selling roasted and dried watermelon seeds along with other nuts and seeds in their product lines. Just like traditionally-consumed seeds, such as sunflower, you can have them as a snack or even sprinkle them on salads.

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. Though the tiny seeds do come from the cannabis family, they hardly contain any trace amounts of THC (the active form of marijuana). They are highly nutritious and a great swap for chia seeds if you want to try something new.

What makes them super?

Like chia seeds, hemp seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation in the body, including inflammation of the skin. It can also be a powerhouse plant-based source of protein with about 11 grams in three tablespoons.

How do you incorporate them into your diet?

Hemp seeds have a nutty profile and are very tender compared to other seeds. Try sprinkling some on your avocado toast or adding them to your oatmeal.

 


Super Powders

Moringa

Moringa oleifera, also known as drumstick tree or ben tree, is a small tree native to India, Pakistan, and Nepal that has been used for generations to treat ailments and diseases. Moringa has become popular as a natural leaf powder supplement, but the pods, roots, flowers and seeds are also edible.

What makes it super?

Morgina is rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids. For those who do not consume dairy, moringa is a great vegan source of calcium. Moringa is also a super source of antioxidants and it is seen to decrease oxidative damage that free radicals could cause in cells. Other benefits include the protection of the liver and cardiovascular system.

How do you incorporate it into your diet?

Start slow when adding moringa powder to foods. It can have a laxative effect for some, but this can easily be avoided by starting slow. We recommend starting with a ½ teaspoon, then working to graduate to one to two tablespoons. You can add this superfood to smoothies, green juices or soups.

Maca

Maca is a plant in the broccoli family, and the maca root is the stem of the plant, resembling a radish. Maca is historically grown in Peru, which is why you might see it labeled as a Peruvian superfood.

What makes it super?

Historically, maca has been prescribed for two reasons: to increase energy and stamina for those with anemia, and to help with fertility and hormone regulation. While the cause-to-benefit correlation is somewhat unknown, there are many people who truly claim these benefits exist.

How do you incorporate it into your diet?

Like all the powders here, it can be added to any food that contains some liquid. We suggest adding it to a chocolate protein shake or mixing it into a yogurt of your choice.

Camu camu

Surprise! Peru brings another superfood to the list. Camu camu is a tree that grows in the Amazon and bears a red/purple cherry-like fruit.

What makes it super?

Camu camu is a great source of vitamin C, more than any other food! Other benefits include boosting the immune system, balancing mood, and decreasing inflammation.

How do you incorporate it into your diet?

Camu camu powder can be added to any baked good by adding just one teaspoon to the batter. Try adding it to your pancake mix or sneaking it into a sauce!

 


Super Shrooms

Reishi

Ganoderma lucidem, or reishi, is a mushroom that has been long used in Asian countries for promoting health and longevity.

What makes it super?

Reishi is most commonly used for its adaptogenic effects, which means it can help the body defend itself from the stressors of life. Reishi has also been found to fortify the immune system, protect the cardiovascular system and to protect the liver.

How do you incorporate it into your diet?

Reishi is most commonly consumed as a powder and many people add it to hot drinks or soups.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a fungus traditionally grown in China. Like reishi, it’s been used and grown in Asian countries for hundreds of years.

What makes it super?

Holistically, it is believed to enhance athletic performance, but has not shown to improve athletic performance in endurance-trained athletes. This would be great to add-in if you’re experiencing some fatigue and would like a natural energy booster.

How do you incorporate it into your diet?

Cordyceps can be found in a variety of forms, but traditionally it’s bought dried and whole and added to soups or stews. There are some companies that sell cordyceps and other mushroom-powdered drink elixirs that are also easy to incorporate. Just add water!

 


Super Oils

Algae oil

Algae oil is a culinary oil that is derived from algae. It has a light neutral taste, can be used for a variety of different cooking methods and has a high smoke point of 485 degrees F. It is also great for the environment since it has a low-carbon and low-water footprint.

What makes it super?

Algae oil is wonderful because it contains a high amount of healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fats (MUFAS). Just one tablespoon of algae oil contains 13 grams of MUFAS and only .5 grams of saturated fat. MUFAS helps with maintaining a healthy heart and promoting a healthy blood pressure.

How do you incorporate it into your diet?

Since algae oil can withstand high cooking temperatures, we recommend drizzling it over vegetables then roasting them. You can even bake with algae oil! Try this recipe for Almond, Pear and Flaxseed Muffins by Thrive Algae Oil.

Avocado oil

Avocado oil is a culinary oil that is pressed from avocados. It is becoming the new go-to for culinary oils because, like algae oil, it can withstand temperatures as high as 500 degrees F.

What makes it super?

Avocado oil is another great source of MUFAS and with that comes a lot of metabolic benefits. It’s been seen to have benefits including the prevention of developing diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides levels and obesity.

How do you incorporate it into your diet?

Avocado oil can be used to roast vegetables, meat, fish and poultry. It can be used in salad dressings and it can even be used to fry chips. Check your local grocery store for products fried in avocado oil for a smarter alternative to refined vegetable oils.

So, if you are looking to add new nutrient-dense foods and supplements to your diet, try one of these superfoods! It is always encouraged to try new things on a healthy diet so you do not get bored, and in turn, it will help increase the variety of nutrients you consume.

 

Gabriella is a registered dietitian living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently works in corporate wellness as a dietitian and overall wellness coach. She also runs a food blog called Macrobalanced, where she shows people that healthy and balanced eating can be interesting and tasty! She enjoys all things fitness from lifting heavy weights in the gym to hitting the barre. Nothing is off limits as long as sweat is involved. When she is not cooking or sweating, she is playing with her dog Maui, a lively German Shepherd. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.