According to unpopular belief, the “new year, new you” mantra only works if you actually do something differently.
This applies to the food you eat, and while it’s easier to give up and let go after the dumpster year we’ve just had the pleasure of dealing with, we’re all about emerging healthier and better than ever before.
Which is why we’re particularly excited about the best superfoods in 2021. Now that there’s a bigger focus on nutrition, these picks are all about eating smart, especially when they’re generously loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that would be otherwise hard to find in a daily diet.
Here’s what we’ll be adding to our plates this year.
Although long a traditional staple crop for people living in tropical and South Pacific countries, breadfruit has only started to be earmarked as the next superfood following extensive research. Either eaten on its own or dried and ground into a gluten-free flour, the large, starchy fruit has a much lower glycemic index compared to wheat and cassava, and is a complete protein option if you’re making the switch to veganism. Besides, you’ll also get a good dose of Omegas 3 and 6, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus, all essential for a healthy body.
This ancient medicinal herb is native to India, and has been one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda for natural healing. As an adaptogen, ashwagandha mainly helps your body manage stress, but has also been found to boost brain function, lower blood sugar levels, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Studies have also shown that the evergreen shrub helps decrease inflammation and boosts memory, making it a supplement you should add if you’re in need of a little zen, both mentally and physically.
Here’s another reason to reach for that hummus. A rich source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, chickpeas offer a plethora of health benefits. Choline, for example, plays a role in regulating mood as well as the body’s metabolism, while selenium supports cognitive health. Potassium, B vitamins, iron, and magnesium have a part to play in supporting heart health too. Besides, a cup of chickpeas offers a good supply of antioxidants and almost one-third of an adult’s daily protein needs, making it just the superfood you’ll need to get through Veganuary.
If you were looking to up your game at the gym, foods rich in natural nitrates — such as beets, celery, and pomegranate — might just be your answer. These dietary nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in your body, a vital molecule that has been proven to help with exercise performance, lowering blood pressure, and improving brain function. Still, not everything with nitrates on the nutrition label would do; foods with added nitrates as preservatives, like bacon and ham, can increase the risk of cancer over time.
If you haven’t been paying attention, the state of your body is highly dependent on the health of your gut, and probiotic-rich foods will be back under the spotlight this year. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, and Kombucha contain plenty of good bacteria that boosts digestive health, which in turn enhances the immune system — something we could all get behind during a pandemic.
With its deliciously nutty flavour, it’s little surprise that Kamut (otherwise known as ‘khorasan wheat’ or ‘Pharaoh grain’) has still found its way onto dinner tables even after two millennia. The ancient grain is not only an excellent source of dietary fibre and protein (one cup provides 22 percent of the recommended daily allowance for adults), but also has essential minerals like selenium, manganese, and magnesium to fight free radical damage. Kamut can be substituted for wheat flour in baked goods, cooked in a broth, or added to cereals and grain bars.
You would’ve come across these golden berries as garnishes on cakes, but this tangy, yellow berry is more than just a pretty face. The fruit — native to the Andes — is chockfull of vitamins and carotenoids, which are potent antioxidants that help to prevent or slow down damage to your cells. Besides anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects, the berry has also been credited with protective effects on the liver, lungs, and eyes.