Let’s face it: Some foods simply pack more nutritional punch than others. Calorie for calorie, these stand-outs give our bodies optimum fuel to stay strong and fight infection and disease.
There are plenty of superfoods among us – you probably eat them every day, such as leafy greens and other vegetables, berries and fruits. But if you are looking to shake up your diet with some fun, exotic and super-nutritious foods, we have six interesting options for you.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that can be harvested from oceans and salty lakes to be dried into a nutritional powder supplement or pressed into capsules. It’s hard to beat some of the health benefits; it has more iron than raw spinach and more beta carotene than carrots. You can add the powder to smoothies or juice, or drink it as a shot.
More: Spirulina: The Superfood You’ve Never Heard Of
2. Purple mangosteen
This purple, round, glossy tropical fruit offers sweet white segments inside a reddish-brown rind. It is grown in southeast Asia and may not be easy to come by. However, if you are lucky enough to find one, it’s worth trying. Mangosteen is rich in vitamin C and has naturally antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties. Another reason is simply to experience its delicate, unique flavor.
More: Move Over Mango: Here Comes Mangosteen
3. Bee pollen
Not to be confused with royal jelly or honeycomb, bee pollen stands alone with its potent nutritional sting. It comes from the pollen that collects on the bodies of bees. It is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals and also contains carotenoids to protect eye health. It also contains antioxidants, which may prevent cancer. It’s easy to add this immunity booster to smoothies, soups and salads, or directly to salad dressings.
More: What’s the Buzz About Bee Pollen?
This raw form of dark chocolate packs an antioxidant punch. In fact, raw cacao is one of the richest, naturally occurring sources of antioxidants. Its high flavonol content improves circulation, reduces the blood’s ability to clot and generally decreases inflammation. Cacao helps your cells reduce damage caused by free radicals (which speed up the aging process). Add it to oatmeal, smoothies, granola or use it as a substitute for chocolate chips.
More: Why Chocolate Lovers Should Meet Cacao
5. Goji berries
This semi-bitter berry is traditional fare in China and is often dried. There are unlimited ways to mix versatile Goji berries into your diet. The berries abound in health benefits, with ¼ cup providing 340 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A and 40 percent of your vitamin C. These berries also contain zinc, fiber and protein. Add goji berries to yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, toss into salads or enjoy in baked goods.
More: Goji Berries a Surprisingly Good Source of Protein
6. Maca root
Native to the Andes Mountains, maca root resembles an overstuffed white radish. It is often used as a powder and has a slightly nutty taste, with a hint of butterscotch. Maca root is high in iron and iodine to promote cell growth and support a healthy metabolism. It also contains potassium to aid digestion, muscle contraction and overall function. It’s a great source of calcium to boost endurance.
More: How Maca May Help You Find a Healthy Balance