It wasn’t that long ago that quinoa was considered an exotic superfood passed down from the Incan gods. Now you’d be hard-pressed to find a menu that doesn’t have quinoa on it…wherever you are in the world. Unless you’ve had the opportunity to go on a cross-cultural culinary adventure around the world, you might not be familiar with some of these global superfoods. Our advice? Seek them out on your next trip and then try to maintain them in your regular diet.
If you ate these with your eyes closed, you’d think they were peanuts. Except, they’re not nuts at all. Baru seeds are the perfect solution for people who are missing out on that creamy, nutty flavor that is so addicting. A South American superfood that flies under the radar, baru seeds are a nutrient-dense legume grown in the Savannah of Brazil. With more protein than almonds and walnuts, baru seeds are a great source of fiber, iron and vitamin E. Organic Traditions has a resealable bag that’s perfect to take on the go.
In the land famous for kangaroos and koalas, there’s a native shrub that bears multi-purpose leaves. Lemon myrtle is an Australian wonder plant whose essential oils have antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. The leaves themselves are widely used to make tea, dried spices or to infuse flavor into ice cream, cakes and sorbets. The light citrus flavor (similar to lemongrass) is complemented by nutrients like calcium, folate, zinc, magnesium and Vitamin E, so it tastes good and does good. Orchard Street makes a nice botanical tea with lemon myrtle, perfect to aid digestion.
Sometimes referred to as a custard apple because of its creamy flesh, the cherimoya (or chirimoya) is a natural antioxidant that is high in vitamins C and B. Originally from Central America, it can also be found growing in tropical regions and southern Spain (surprisingly). Large and green, the cherimoya is almost heart shaped and looks a little bit like a smooth artichoke. It can be eaten as is or chilled and then scooped with a spoon like ice cream. Or you can always do as they do in Peru and Chile and use it in ice cream and yogurt.
Historically harvested by Aztec and Incas in Central and South America, amaranth is a gluten-free “grain” that has nutrient rich greens and seeds. A protein powerhouse, both the seeds and greens are edible, the latter tasting much like spinach. It’s a superfood that gets less attention than the more familiar quinoa, but high amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and potassium make amaranth a no-brainer for the health conscious. It even has vitamin C and lowers cholesterol. Why are we not eating this every day?
Everyone knows about matcha, but there’s another green superfood you need to add into your repertoire: Moringa. Proven to lower blood sugar and cholesterol, moringa is one of the most nutritious plants on the planet. Known in ancient cultures as the ‘Tree of Life,’ it is primarily grown in South Asia, but also found in West Africa. More nutritious than kale, a quick internet search will confirm that moringa is so good for you, it can treat anything from infections to arthritis. Brands like Kuli Kuli make it easy to get your daily dose with their range of powders, bars and teas.
Our Canadian friends have a secret superfood and although it looks like a blueberry, it’s more closely related to the apple family. Sometimes marketed as a juneberry in the U.S. (because it begins ripening in June), it’s actually called a saskatoon berry. Interestingly, the berries have a sweet, almost nutty almond flavor. A better source of calcium than red meats, vegetables and cereals, the saskatoon berry is also richer in antioxidants than most other berries. Sounds like a good reason to visit Canada, eh?
Native to some parts of Africa, Arabia, Australia and Madagascar, the baobab tree produces a fruit that is one of the best global superfoods. Chock full of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and zinc, baobab fruit (or powder) is like magic. High in fiber, it’s good for the gut, reduces inflammation and even balances out blood sugar levels. You can slip the powdered version into almost anything, but next time you visit a region that grows it, make sure you try the real deal.