There are some foods that we all know are good for us. As children, we’re told to eat our broccoli and that an apple a day will keep the doctor away, but nobody ever mentions Aronia berries!
We’ve put together a list of some of the healthiest foods in the world that you probably haven’t heard of, to encourage you to try something new that will only do your body good.
1. Mung Beans
Avocados and fish are not the only heart-healthy foods to choose from in your grocery store. Mung beans are high in potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and water retention, as well as iron and fiber, which helps keep you feeling full. But more impressively, Mung beans are 24% protein and they retain most of their high levels of vitamin C after boiled, unlike most other legumes.
2. Shirataki Noodles
These glasslike noodles are high in glucomannan, a type of fiber with impressive health benefits that may even be linked to weight loss. These noodles are very filling and low in calories, and they can also help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, making them perfect noodle alternatives.
Kefir is a fermented drink made by adding kefir grains (which are really more like colonies of yeast and lactic acid bacteria milk that kind of look like cauliflower) to milk. The result is kefir, which is a more powerful probiotic than yogurt. It can also lower cholesterol and enhance the immune system.
4. Hawaiian Spirulina
Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria that grows in both fresh and saltwater, and is jam-packed with nutrients. It has protein, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and all the essential amino acids that you need. Spirulina also contains powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and may be helpful in lowering LDL cholesterol.
Spirulina is typically found in supplements that are to be taken in the morning at least 1-hour prior to eating. Gram for gram, this might just be the single healthiest food on the planet.
Yacon is a root vegetable, similar to potatoes, turnips, or carrots, that promotes slow digestion and has a high fiber content that may help regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and liver function. It’s also used as a healthy alternative sweetener as it’s especially effective at controlling blood sugar.
While new on the western scene, Fenugreek has been consumed and used a for medicinal reasons in the east for thousands of years. Archeologist have found evidence of Fenugreek used in cuisine dating as far back as 4,000 BC.
Fenugreek leaves and seeds are edible and can be eaten fresh or dried. Fenugreek is a common ingredient in Indian Cuisine. Fenugreek seeds, called Methi, are commonly used in Indian curries, as well as Persian, Turkish, and Egyptian cuisine. Methi are sweet. In fact Methi is commonly used in products as a sweetener. The closest flavor to Methi is maple syrup.
Medicinally Fenugreek is believed to slow absorption of sugars in the stomach and stimulate insulin. These two effects lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Fenugreek is also taken to reduce menstrual cramping and pain, treat erectile disfunction, and reduce heartburn. New medicinal uses are still being discovered for this power food.
Cultivated in Japan and Korea for centuries, Wakame is an edible seaweed that has found popularity in the US. Nutritionally Wakame packs a punch. It’s low in calories but provides consumers with good amounts of iodine, manganese, folate, magnesium and calcium.
Iodine is essential to a healthy Thyroid. Due to its high Iodine levels – Wakame is believed to support proper Thyroid function. Many also consume Wakame for its weight loss properties. Wakame is believed to facilitate weight loss. Several animal studies show that when regularly consumed, Wakame helps to reduce fat cells around vital organs.
Classified as a sea vegetable, Arame is a Kelp species used mainly in Japanese cuisine. With a mild flavor profile, Arame is commonly used in soups, stir fry, toasted dishes, and as a topper on many popular Japanese dishes.
Like it’s friend wakame, Arame promotes proper thyroid function. Seaweed contains high levels iodine and tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that’s essential for thyroids. Arame packs a vitamin and mineral punch, delivering iodine, iron, vitamin A, riboflavin, Thiamin, copper, and manganese.
9. Pu-erh Tea
Named for a city in the Yunnan region of China, pu-erh tea offers a wide range of health benefits. Pu-erh tea is made from the leaves and stems of the Camellia sinensis plant. Fermentation is what sets this tea apart from the rest. Pu-erh is stored and aged under high humidity, for months and sometimes years. In fact, like a fine Scotch higher-end pu-erh is aged up to 50-years and sells for thousands of dollars.
Pu-erh is believed to help treating metabolic syndrome, which is a grouping of dangerous health issues including: including excess belly fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and chronic inflammation. Treating metabolic syndrome is believed to reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Averaging between 2 and 4 pounds, the Pomelo is the largest citrus fruit. Pomelos share their flavor profile with grapefruits. However, where grapefruit can often be tangy or bitter, Pomelos are sweeter and milder.
The reason Pomelos have gained in popularity is due to their strong nutritional value – which includes: vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Additionally, pomelos are an excellent source of dietary fiber.
One pomelo contains close to 600 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement! Vitamin C helps the body increase white blood cell production and attack free radicals. This is crucial to organ health because free radicals can damage the organs of the body.
In Asia pomelos are known as “energy boosters.” If grapefruit isn’t your thing, give a pomelo a try.
High in the Andes mountains there’s a root vegetable with a flavor profile described as the crossroad of the carrot and celery root – that’s where you’ll find Arracacha. Some refer to Arracacha as the Peruvian Carrot.
Arracacha is a is a high energy, quickly digestible food. It can be consumed raw, but many find its starchy profile easier to consume cooked. Arracacha is primarily used soups, purées, and stews.
Arracacha is an excellent source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. I also provides P-carotene, ascorbic acid, and calcium. It has four times the calcium of a potato. If you’re tired of drinking milk to get your calcium, give Arracacha a try.
If you have difficulty finding Arracacha in your city, try Hispanic markets.
Known as the Chinese turnip or Mexican potato, jicama packs some serious nutritional value. Jicama is crunchy, juicy, and somewhat sweet – its a refreshing treat that won’t ruin your wasteline. Best part is, jicama taste great raw. That’s right, even you can’t mess this dish up. 😉
Jicama is packed with fiber and water, vitamin C, folate, potassium and magnesium. It’s low in calories high in antioxidants. and the following vitamins and minerals. Jicama can be found at most grocery stores today.
Brainy Tip – Squeeze a little lime juice and hot sauce over sliced jicama, a dash of salt and pepper. Serve chilled and you’ll be in food heaven.
Teff is a superfood that you should be eating. Incorrectly classified by many as an ancient grain, Teff is actually an ancient seed. What makes Teff awesome is that it can be used like many grains. This means you can substitute Teff for grains and reap new the health benefits.
Teff is high in dietary fiber which promotes good digestive health. Teff also boasts 5-times the calcium of whole wheat. It’s high in magnesium, vitamin B6, Zinc, and vitamin C. Teff is also gluten free.
Brainy Tip – Try swapping Teff Flour for Whole Wheat flour the next time you bake.
Tired of oranges and bananas, but you need more vitamin C and potassium in your diet? Start eating Plouts. A pluot is a stone fruit, which is a hybrid between an apricot and a plum. Pluots are high in vitamin C and potassium.
Beta-carotene, an antioxidant found in the pluot, protects human cell membranes and fatty acids from free radicals. This helps prolong the onset of the signs of aging. Plouts are high in other antioxidants that help to fuel cell metabolism and circulation. This is believed to hold off acne and wrinkles.
A pluot is low in calories, (30 calories or so), but high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Brainy Tip – Swap out those unhealthy fruit snacks for a Pluot or two. Your kids will love them. Pluots are the perfect healthy snack to satisfy any sweet tooth.
15. Camu Camu
Found throughout the Amazonian rainforest of South America, Camu camu fruit produces berries that are the size color of cherries. The berry is very sour. Camu camu is usually prepared in sweetened items like desserts, juices, smoothies, etc.
The seeds, skin, and pulp of Camu camu are high in vitamin C and other powerful cell and skin protectors like flavonoid antioxidants, including anthocyanins and ellagic acid.
Tempeh is a fermented soy product that’s popular in vegetarian cuisine as a meat replacement. Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. After fermentation, the soybeans are compressed into a cake or mini bread loaf shape.
Tempeh is rich with prebiotics; which are fibers that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. That’s fancy medical talk for it’s good for your gut. Tempeh is also high in calcium, which may help increase bone density and prevent bone loss later in life.
Kamut is a grain similar to wheat. Like brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, and quinoa – kamut has a low glycemic index. This makes kamut a great alternative for those with Diabetes or anyone who wants to control their blood sugar levels without sacrificing good food.
Kamut is much less allergenic than wheat. Kamut is handled well by those with gluten intolerance and wheat allergies. Kamut has less protein than wheat, but it’s higher in really good for you lipids, amino acids, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Tired of Quinoa? Give Amaranth a shot. Dating back to the Inca, Maya, and Aztec civilizations – Amaranth is a nutritious grain, loaded with protein and fiber. The stat sheet on Amaranth is in, it’s a superfood!
A one-cup serving will net you 50% of your recommended daily dose of magnesium and phosphorus, and 100% of your manganese. Amaranth also contains 9 grams of protein per serving.
Celeriac is a root vegetable with surprising health benefits. It’s closely related to celery, parsley and parsnips. It’s extremely versatile.
Celeriac is commonly used in salads, soups, casseroles and stews. Celeriac is loaded with vitamins B6, C and K. It’s high in fiber and antioxidants too. Because of it high concentrations potassium and vitamin K, celeriac is believed to be good for heart health.
Brainy Tip – If you hate vegetables but want to get the nutrients Celeriac provides, try making homemade chips or french fries. It’s easy. Cube or thinly slice celeriac, toss it in olive oil, and bake it in the over at 400 for 15 to 20 mins. Salt and pepper to taste.
Cherimoya grows in tropical high altitude areas. Its area of origin is believed to be the Andes mountains of South America. Cherimoya is a tropical fruit. It’s sweet like a banana.
Due to its creamy texture, cherimoya is also known as custard apple. It’s often served as a dessert, chilled like a custard and eaten out of its skin.
Cherimoya packs a punch – high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals – believed to increase immunity, reduce inflammation, and promote eye health.
Does the photo above of purslane look familiar to you? It should. 7 Health Benefits of Purslane is an edible weed. The best thing about purslane is you’re probably growing it in your backyard right now.
In the west, purslane is a weed but in other parts of the world, purslane is viewed as an edible leafy green. Purslane has a unique salty/sour taste. It’s often used as garnishes or added to salad mixtures. Purslane is high in omega-3 fatty acids; two types – ALA and EPA.
Brainy Tip – Add a half cup of Purslane to your next spinach salad. Spinach really wants to be purslane when it grows up. Purslane contains 5 -7 times more ALA than spinach!
Also known as German turnip, Kohlrabi, is a cruciferous vegetable similar to cabbage. Kohlrabi is not a root vegetable, however so it’s far from a turnip. Kohlrabi is related to cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Kohlrabi’s leaves, stems, and bulbs can be consumed. The taste of kohlrabi is described as like broccoli stems of cabbage only slightly sweeter. It’s loaded with fiber, vitamin C, and enough potassium and vitamin B6 to supercharge you through your busy day.
23. Sunflower Greens
Touted as one of the top 10 best microgreens, sunflower greens are loaded with antioxidants. Sunflower greens have been linked to fertility in men and women. Men’s health experts advise sunflower greens as part of a man’s diet due to its high concentrations of zinc. Zinc is linked to healthy sperm and sperm production. For women, its high levels of folic acid make sunflower greens a superfood. This is especially true for pregnant women. Sunflower greens pack a protein punch too.
Brainy Tip – Get more protein in your green smoothies by adding sunflower greens.
24. Aronia Berries
Aronia berries, also known as the chokeberries are native to North America and found in wet marshy places. These ornamental shrubs produce berries with three sour puckering varieties: Red, black, and purple.
These lip smacking berries offer a very high concentration of anthocyanin (pigments), a wide range of polyphenols, and proanthocyanidins (tannins). These superchargers contain 3-times more antioxidants than blueberries, goji berries, and pomegranates! This helps to lower cholesterol levels and possibly prevent the formation of the dreaded plaque that could narrow and clog your arteries, leading to heart disease.
Aronia berries are sold in frozen packets so you can use them all year round. You only need to eat 3 to 5 a day and it’s best to spread your antioxidants throughout the day.
Brainy Tip: You can make a jam out of the frozen berries, use a few in a smoothie, drop 1 or 2 on your yogurt or cereal and make a cheesecake toping out of it. The ideas are abundant with these berry bombs!
Goldenberries or more commonly called Cape gooseberry, goldenberry, and physalis. They look similar to grapes or baby tomatoes but turn from pale green to amber as they ripen. Most are used for pies, jams, ice cream and smoothies, but they are sweet enough to eat raw.
Gooseberry season runs from May through August as they are a tropical fruit, however, you can get small imports during October through December. With an impressive antioxidant profile and more potassium than almost the entire berry family no wonder the Inca Indians used to eat these tasty little treats.
26. Peppadew Peppers
Peppadew is the brand name for a piquanté pepper. They’re available in both hot and mild varieties, which both have a crisp crunchy texture.
These peppers are loaded with capsicums, which are an excellent source of vitamin A and C. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin E, B6 and folate.
Brainy Tip- you can eat these alone, leave them whole and stuff them with your favorite cheese and it makes an easy appetizer.
This melon fruit looks more like something you would see when scuba diving or snorkeling in the tropics instead of a refreshingly tasty fruit. Kiwano tastes like a cross between passionfruit, cucumber, banana and lime smoothie all-in-one. Its texture is similar to a pomegranate and passionfruit with a surrounding jelly substance.
Yes, you can eat the spiky skin of this fruit; it is packed full of vitamin C and dietary fiber. Kiwano is packed with several antioxidants, minerals and water, so if you’re feeling tired, down or just plan sluggish, give this fruit a try. This spiky melon may just put that skip back in your step with all its nutrients.
When fighting an infection jackfruit helps boost your immune system because of its high vitamin C and antioxidants. One jackfruit contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, zinc and niacin among many other nutrients. You can see why adding this fruit to your diet can help keep you healthy and your digestion running smooth.
Jackfruit is often used as a meat substitute for our vegans and vegetarians. The young immature fruit (unripe) has a meat-like texture that is easily substituted for any meat dish. The more mature (ripe) jackfruit is better suited for desserts since it is much sweeter.
Brainy Tip- you can easily substitute jackfruit on taco night for your meat as it easily picks up the taco seasoning. No one will know… It also makes a great chicken curry.
Moringa is an antioxidant that seems to help protect cells from damage. It contains proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The plant has shown the potential to simultaneously treat both malnutrition and obesity. Some research studies have even shown moringa to reduce chronic inflammation.
The moringa tree, which is also known as the drumstick tree is native to India (they have used moringa trees for centuries for all its medicinal properties).