If you’re a health nut like me, you probably have noticed a number of new superfoods on the menu at juice and smoothie bars as well as in the aisles of your favorite health food stores. To avoid spending you hard-earned money on products you don’t need, I asked SF contributor Mary Kate to find out which ones are worth the splurge and hype. Here are the 10 next superfoods you need to know the benefits of now!
It seems every day there are new “superfoods” hitting the shelves — products ranging from hemp protein powder to cacao nibs to camu powder. The different colors on the shelf are definitely eye-catching but once you start to look at the label it all starts to blur together and you wonder: What would work best for me? Do I really need to spend $25 on this product I’ve never heard of before? Is this for real or another Dr. Oz like scam? It all starts to look super confusing. I’m no stranger to superfoods — I love the different health benefits, flavors, and figuring out new ways to use them. Once you break down these different “miracle” products, things start to get a lot less confusing and a little more fun.
- You may have heard of hemp before, but maybe not necessarily in the context of superfoods. This product is no joke — super versatile and one of the most versatile superfoods I’ve used. It’s mostly found in protein isolate form or as seeds. One tablespoon of hemp seeds have 40 calories and over 5 grams of protein making it great to use in smoothies and protein bars. It is quite earthy though so I would not recommend just blending it with some water as a post-workout snack. But a smoothie with some banana, almond milk, and greens is the perfect complement to this amazing food! The seeds are great to sprinkle on salads, soups, or pretty much anything you want to add some extra protein and omega-3s to. You can even use the seeds to make hemp milk or use them in smoothies. Here is a protein ball recipe using the seeds.
- Complete vegan protein source (up to 5g per tablespoon)
- Rich source of omega-3s
- High in Iron (3 tbsp hemp protein = 40% RDV)
- High in Magnesium (3 tbsp hemp protein = 60% RDV)
- Good source of fiber
- Maca is one of my favorite superfoods. I love the taste of it and I use it in so many recipes. From smoothies to protein balls to different tonics, maca gives such a rich, almost milkshake-like flavor to different recipes. Some people don’t particularly like the taste of maca but I find, often times, you can just add some to a smoothie and you barely taste it. There are also several different kinds of maca with slight differences in flavor. For more info about the different kinds check out this link. This superfood has been a lifesaver for me with its energizing and hormone-balancing properties. If you struggle with hormonal health or come off of birth control pills, maca could be a great option for you.
- Balance the body’s endocrine system
- Aid in hormone balance
- All natural energy source
- High in B vitamins, Iron, and Calcium
- Lucuma powder is starting to get more and more publicity, and with good reason! This superfood is amazing to help sweeten up any smoothies or superfood treats you may be making. Not only is it naturally sweet, but it’s low glycemic as well — this means you get the sweetness of the lucuma fruit (in powder form) but no blood sugar spikes! It adds such a nice richness and creaminess which is why I love using lucuma in my smoothies!
- Good source of iron (1 tbsp = 2% RDV)
- Source of 14 essential trace minerals
- Great source of fiber (2 tsp = 8% RDV)
- Low glycemic/sugar sweetness
- Baobab powder is a superfood that was recently “discovered” in the US. For this reason, it can be a bit hard to find it at even specialized health food stores. Luckily, you can find it from online distributors like Vitacost and Amazon
and I promise it’s well worth the shipping time! It’s a great source of calcium for vegans among many other benefits! I love to use it in smoothies since it gives it a nice thickness but you can also add it to some non-dairy yogurt to make it thicker, oatmeal to give it a boost, or even add it to pancakes to give a tangy flavor! It tastes similar to that of a sweet pear.
- Great source of iron
- High in fiber
- Non-dairy good source of calcium – twice as much as milk
- The vitamin C helps to protect your skin and keep elasticity (has 3-6x more than an orange)
- Natural liver detoxifier
- High in antioxidants to help ward off disease and fight infections
- Helps fight diabetes
- Camu camu may be another superfood that you may have never heard of before, but it has been used for medicinal and energizing purposes for quite some time. This berry is extremely high in vitamin C. In fact, it possesses the highest natural form of vitamin C to date. Just 1 tsp has over 1000% of your RDV of immune boosting vitamin C! It’s great to slipthissuperfood into anything such as dressings, smoothies,yogurts, or even mixed in with a green juice. It’s a bit tart but tangy (since it does come from a berry) so keep that in mind when adding it to recipes.
- Natural energy booster
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Contains essential amino acids such as valine, leucine and serine
- Great source of flavonoids (protect cells from damage and inflammation)
- This superfood is particularly interesting due to it’s incredible nutty, almost caramel-like flavor. You may think of a BBQ when you head it but this superfood powder is actually sweet, kind of like molasses. Because of this particular flavor, it’s wonderful to add to healthified sweet treats and smoothies — I especially love it paired with banana and/or cacao in recipes! All you need is a small spoonful to get this amazing flavor. Mesquite stabilizes blood sugar and can help satisfy hunger thanks to high fiber and low glycemic index so it’s great to add to snacks like homemade protein bars or raw protein balls.
- High in protein
- High in calcium (1 tbsp = 2% RDV)
- Source of various B vitamins
- Great source of magnesium
- You may have heard of all the benefits of wheatgrass and maybe you’ve even taken a wheatgrass shot or two for an energy/vitamin boost. Well wheatgrass is going to have to move over a bit to share the spotlight with barley grass! Like wheatgrass, barley grass is extremely high in chlorophyll, protein, vitamins and minerals — it really is a superfood. It contains natural enzymes and it acts as a great post-workout superfood due to it’s sodium content. All of these together make it a great anti-inflammatory and natural detoxifier. Be warned: itisbarley grass so it will taste a bit earthy — but just add it to a smoothie or post-workout drink and you won’t even be able to taste it.
- Great source of calcium (even more than cow’s milk!)
- More iron than spinach
- High protein content (45% composition is protein)
- Rich in several vitamins and trace minerals
- Natural energy booster
- This deep purple berry is wonderful for a variety of reasons, the first one being how great it is at helping to prevent and alleviate disease. Originally from South America, maqui has been used to help treat sore throats, ulcers, diarrhea and even colon cancer. Maqui is super high in antioxidants which also contribute to it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Since it is a berry, it has that tart but also sweet flavor such as blackberries, acai, and blueberries. Add a spoonful to your morning green smoothie to give yourself an antioxidant boost first thing in the morning.
- Helps lower high blood pressure and cholesterol by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol)
- Natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
- Great source of Iron and vitamin C
- Prevents several types of disease and boosts immunity
- I recently just discovered matcha myself while out shopping at a local health food store. I had heard it was perfect for those days when “you just need your coffee.” If you’ve been trying to kick a coffee habit, matcha powder is a great place to start! It’s such a powerful energy booster without any sort of crash that you may have experienced with coffee. You won’t get any jittery feelings withthissuperfood! It is anaturalenergizer but it also promotes relaxation in the body while still remaining alert. Matcha is known to not only improve concentration but also increase metabolism. Have a big test or presentation coming up? Addsomematcha to your smoothie or makeamatcha tea latte! Matcha is a bit of an investment when you first buy it but a little goes a LONG way. You won’t have to restock this item very often, as only a tsp at a time is the perfect amount. Start low by adding only a ½ tsp and work your way up from there. Some people add as much as 1 tbsp to their drinks.
- Contains catechins (important antioxidant flavonoids in green tea)
- Natural energy booster
- Rich in many antioxidants
- Boosts metabolism
- Enhances concentration and mood
- Natural detoxifier
- Turmeric seems to be popping up everywhere lately. The great thing about thissuperfood is that it is extremely versatile and it’s also very easy to find at the grocery store. You can use it to spice up different dishes such as curries, stir fries, even put it in smoothies.Curcumin is found in turmeric and the main source of benefits. To better absorb it, add a little fat and pepper to your dish.
- Very high in iron (2 tsp = 10% RDV)
- Very high in manganese (2 tsp = 17% RDV)
- Anti-inflammatory properties which helps with conditions such as PMS, chest pain, jaundice, hemorrhage, etc.
- Great way to alleviate IBS
- Studies have shown it can help to decrease risk of cancer as well as inhibit cancerous cell growth
Wow! That was a lot of information. Huge thank you to Mary Kate for getting down to the bottom of it.
Sam @ PancakeWarriors says
There were a few new ones on this list -- I can’t wait to work with them! Thanks for this expansive list!
What a list! I’ve heard of them but had no idea about the benefits of most of them -- I’ve started taking gelatinized maca recently and actually love the taste! Next to try is mesquite -- sounds amazing!
Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment says
Great list! I have been using some of these. I really like hemp a lot for protein powder, bars and the hemp hearts. Thanks for sharing!
Diatta @ Feme Fitale Fit Club says
Wow this is a log list. I have been meaning to try maca powder but haven’t actually done it yet. I did recently try hemp and tha was good!
These sound really interesting. Matcha and baobab are at the top of my list to try but I’m looking for some good recipe ideas.
Daisy @ Fit Wanderlust Runner says
Other than hemp I had no idea what the other stuff is! Thanks for sharing that way I can start trying them out.
Livi @ Eat, Pray, Work It Out says
Do you know if barley grass contains gluten? I know barley does, but I wonder if the grass is gluten free!
Personal Training in Lafayette LA says
I really appreciate the tips. I’d like to share it with my clients. This is truly a great insights.
I’ve been using Tumeric/Curcumin for a couple of years. It does wonders for my autoimmune related joint inflammation. I don’t know what I would do without it! I’ll have to try out Match a next.