The Best New Superfoods For 2012
One minute everyone's going ga-ga for goji berries, the next minute the acai berry is the 'it' ingredient of the moment. Like the fashion-pack of the health food industry, superfood fads come and go like catwalk trends.
And with each new wave comes a whole new wealth of health benefits. From reducing cancer risk to easing menopausal symptoms, the latest superfoods to hit the scene are packed with promises of a longer, healthier and happier life.
From exotic fruits from the Amazon to sweet garlic with a dark twist - these are the superfoods we predict will be taking the health scene by storm in 2012.
The New Superfoods
Artichokes are a rich source of iron and antioxidants. The Jerusalem variety has the highest levels of iron, helping to beat fatigue, aid concentration and maintain a healthy metabolism.
Black garlic is aged for a month in a fermentation process under high heat (hence its darker colour) and tastes sweeter than normal garlic so it doesn't leave a pungent taste in your mouth. It contains twice as many antioxidants than traditional raw garlic and has high levels of S-Allycysteine, a natural compound that has been proven to help prevent cancer.
This blue-green algae is packed full of iron and vitamin B12, which are great for maintaining energy levels and fighting fatigue. This tiny aquatic plant is packed, ounce for ounce, with more Vitamin A than carrots and is a rich source of phytochemicals, which are said to help reduce menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis and reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation and joint pain, improve metabolism and keep the heart healthy. They also contain a more digestible form of protein than milk and eggs. Eat them raw in salads or grind them with a pestle and mortar and sprinkle them over baked foods or cereals. Hemp seeds can be also be found in an oil form which can be used for cooking or a salad dressing.
Kukicha Twig Tea
The 'twig tea' is made of the stems and stalk from the Kukicha plant and is a herbal remedy used for reducing bloated stomachs and boosting the immune system with its high levels of disease-beating antioxidants. Typically found in tea form, it is low in caffeine, which helps keep the blood pressure levels down.
Adzuki beans contain more protein and less fat than any other pulse. They also contain high levels of potassium which helps lower the risk of strokes and high blood pressure, fibre for good digestion and zinc, which protects the body from inflammation of the joints and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Although notoriously high in fat, this clarified butter used in Indian cooking is thought to improve memory, digestion and boost the immune system. Ghee is made by simmering unsalted butter in a pot until all the water has boiled. Ghee is the milk solids that has settled to the bottom of the pot and is best enjoyed in moderation.
Commonly used in Indian cuisine, fenugreek is used as both a herb and a spice and is said to be good for reducing cholesterol, improving the symptoms of diabetes and soothing menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms.
This creamy-fleshed fruit, which is part of the cocoa family, is being billed as the new 'super fruit' with its high levels of antioxidants. It can found in health juices or in a pill. It is a rich source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, fatty acids and at least nine antioxidants (including Vitamins A and C). The fruit has a similar effect on the body as caffeine without the caffeine content, so it energises the body the natural way. You don't have to eat it to reap the benefits as it can be found in face and body creams too.
These tiny brown seeds are packed with omega 3 fatty acids, great for maintaining healthy energy levels. They are also said to help lower blood pressure and the risk of inflammation, as well as helping slow down premature ageing by reducing the risk of free-radical damage to the skin. Sprinkle Chia seeds on salads, include them in your dipping sauces or salad dressings, throw them in stews or heat them up until they go soft and gel-like and then use as a spread for sandwiches or include in baking recipes.