So you try to treat your body right. You eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and even have a daily smoothie packed with spinach, blueberries and other nutritious foods. But you’re curious, and want to add a little more variety to your diet, something fun and exotic. We hesitate to use the term “superfoods,” which has been so overused in the media it’s become almost worthless. But the following foods really do provide some surprising health benefits; while you’ve probably heard of at least a couple of them, they’re all still considered fairly exotic.
This fruit has been around quite a while, but it’s still not nearly as popular as strawberries, blueberries, oranges, etc. There’s a lot to like about this fuzzy little fruit, which has a tangy taste. It’s low in sugar, high in fiber, and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Kiwifruit has also been shown to aid digestion and protect against macular degeneration. If all that’s not enough, one study found that people who ate kiwifruit on a regular basis fell asleep quicker and slept more soundly. One note of caution: the kiwifruit is one of the more common food allergens. Before splurging, be sure to test a small sample to make sure you’re not allergic.
4. Goji Berries
The Chinese have been using goji berries for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, but this superfood has just recently become a trendy item at specialty food stores in the U.S. Goji berries are full of antioxidants, boost the immune system, and are a good source of Vitamin C and fiber. You can eat these berries raw, use them in trail mix, or add them to a smoothie. WebMD.com reports you should check with your doctor if you’re diabetic or taking blood thinners before adding these berries to your diet. In fact, you should consult with your doctor before adding any new superfood to your diet. For example, while many health food advocates are hailing kelp (aka seaweed) as the hot new superfood, it can cause health problems for some people.
This vegetable has been eaten for centuries in Europe and around the world, but is not nearly as popular in the U.S. as its cousins, broccoli and cabbage. Kohlrabi is a great source of Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. It’s also believed to have antioxidant properties. While it can be eaten cooked, it’s far healthier eaten raw.
Health and nutrition experts have so heavily promoted kale the past few years it doesn’t seem that exotic anymore. Yet many people have still not tried it. That is changing; for example, Chick-fil-A restaurants recently added a salad made with kale to its menu. Kale is loaded with minerals, vitamins (K, A, and C) and antioxidants. While some people find raw kale too bitter, cooking it, or mixing it in a smoothie, can mask that bitterness.
The hardy moringa tree is well known in many Asian and African cultures for its amazing properties. It grows like a weed, up to 15 feet in its first year, and is incredibly drought-resistant. Drop some crushed moringa seeds in a bucket of dirty water, and the seeds will purify the water. No wonder its nicknames around the world include the “miracle tree” and the “never-die tree.” Now, this tree is making inroads in the healthy foods marketplace in the U.S. Moringa leaves are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Studies have shown moringa may help reduce blood sugar levels, reduce bad cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. Although it’s popular in Thai dishes, the easiest way for most Americans to add moringa to their diet is in powder form, either used as a condiment or added to smoothies.