Superfood is a term used to describe nutrient-dense foods that are believed to provide significant health benefits. These foods are typically rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds. While the term “superfood” is not a scientific classification, it is commonly used to highlight certain foods that are considered particularly nutritious. However, it is important to note that while superfoods can be part of a healthy diet, they are not magical cure-alls. A balanced and varied diet that includes a wide range of nutrient-rich foods is key to overall health and well-being. Indian cuisine offers a diverse range of often-overlooked superfoods that deserve recognition. Amaranth, buckwheat, and millet are just a few examples of the abundant Indian superfoods that have been consumed for generations.
These nutrient-rich ingredients have gained popularity due to their health benefits and culinary versatility. With India’s tropical climate, we have access to an abundance of superfoods that offer impressive health benefits while promoting sustainability through local sourcing. While international superfoods may tempt us, their high price points and carbon footprints are concerns we are mindful of. That’s where these Indian superfoods truly shine, offering a local and sustainable alternative.
For those who prefer sourcing locally and ensuring economic viability, we have compiled a list of Indian superfoods that are nutritious and sustainable.
Indian equivalents for international superfoods
Jamun instead of Blueberries
Blueberries are albeit one of the most sought-after fruits. From smoothie bowls to jams and pancakes, they’re everywhere – however, due to their steep prices, more often than not, a lot of people tend to skip them. However, there’s an Indian superfood that does the job perfectly without breaking a sweat – jamun. Both jamun and blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which help combat oxidative stress and protect against cellular damage. Jamun contains compounds like polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, which contribute to its antioxidant properties. It also contains vitamin C, an essential nutrient that supports immune function, collagen synthesis, and antioxidant activity. Jamun is also a good source of dietary fibre which is important for maintaining healthy digestion, promoting satiety, and supporting heart health. Jamun has a unique sweet and tangy taste, often described as a blend of flavours, and is commonly consumed fresh or used in the preparation of jams, jellies, juices, and desserts in Indian cuisine.
Indian Gooseberry instead of Acai Berries
Acai berry bowls are all the rage and we stan a good smoothie bowl but have you considered trying the Indian Gooseberry or Amla instead? This Indian superfood is famed for its variety of antioxidants, including vitamin C, tannins, and flavonoids, which contribute to its antioxidant properties. It is renowned for its exceptionally high vitamin C content and is considered one of the richest sources of vitamin C among fruits. Amla also provides dietary fibre, which is important for maintaining healthy digestion and supporting heart health. Amla’s tart aftertaste makes it perfect for consumption in various forms, such as fresh, dried, or as a juice, in Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic preparations.
Basil Seeds instead of Chia Seeds
If you’ve been on Tiktok long enough, you are no stranger to the internal shower drink that essentially uses chia seeds, lemon, and water with honey. Gaining massive traction over social media, chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fibre, protein, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium and contain antioxidants. However, we have an Indian superfood alternative that is easily available and according to studies, even better than Chia seeds – that’s basil seeds or sabja. Basil seeds are a source of dietary fibre and some minerals, which is beneficial for digestion, blood sugar control, and maintaining a healthy weight. Basil seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids and are recognised for their antioxidant properties. They have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and are good for the heart too. It also acts as a natural coolant. Basil seeds are often used in drinks and desserts; when soaked in water, basil seeds develop a gel-like texture similar to chia seeds which lead to slower absorption and is beneficial to individuals suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Amaranth (rajgira) instead of Quinoa
Quinoa’s roaring popularity has made it somewhat of a celebrity on social media but we happen to have an Indian superfood alternative that is equally popular and is making great strides. Amaranth or rajgira is a pseudocereal, which is an excellent source of plant-based protein and provides essential amino acids. It is gluten-free and rich in dietary fibre, making it beneficial for digestion and overall gut health. Although quinoa has a higher protein content, Amaranth is richer in certain minerals like calcium and iron. It is a notable source of protein, containing all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. It supports healthy digestion and can aid in weight management. Additionally, amaranth also contains various vitamins, including niacin, which plays a role in energy metabolism, and folate, which is important for DNA synthesis and cell division. It also provides small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Cauliflower instead of
While ordering steamed broccoli on the side often earns jibes as the stereotypical “healthy” choice, its cousin, cauliflower, often goes unnoticed despite being hailed as an Indian superfood. Belonging to the same group of vegetables as broccoli and cabbage, cauliflower is low in calories and carbohydrates, making it a suitable choice for those following low-calorie or low-carbohydrate diets. It is a good source of dietary fibre, which aids in digestion and supports overall gut health. Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps boost immunity and supports collagen production. It also provides significant amounts of vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and bone health. The presence of vitamin B6 and folate contributes to various bodily functions, including energy metabolism and DNA synthesis. In terms of minerals, cauliflower contains potassium, which is crucial for maintaining fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contractions. It also provides manganese, which plays a role in antioxidant activity and bone health, along with smaller amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. Bake it, toss it, or just whip up a veggie curry, we love it every way.
Banana instead of Avocado
Avo on toast really made quite the mark with the millennials but its skyrocketing prices haven’t made it any easier – from a health fad to a subculture, Avocado really is the Gigi Hadid of fruits with an impressive list of health benefits. However, its price point poses a challenge for many and we think that the banana is the perfect Indian superfood to rival this international hit. Bananas are a nutrient-rich fruit as they are a good source of dietary fibre (which aids in digestion and good bowel movement), vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium. Bananas have natural antacid properties, which may help soothe acid reflux or heartburn symptoms as they create a protective coating in the stomach, reducing irritation. Due to their potassium content, bananas are often recommended for maintaining electrolyte balance in the body. One can enjoy this raw, or add them frozen to smoothies, use it as a topping for breakfast cereals or yoghurt, and incorporate it into baked goods or desserts. We sure love good banana bread!
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