8 Superfoods You’ve Never Heard Of

From kale to goji berries, krill to chia – every year it seems like there’s a new superfood that we should all be eating. Whether you want to boost your energy or fight ageing with antioxidants, here’s what’s on the menu for 2014:

Known as the “miracle tree”, moringa leaves are super rich in protein, as well as vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C and minerals. It’s native to Africa and Asia. The seeds are also very high in protein and oleic acid. Add the meaty-tasting leaves to salads, or cook like spinach.

Maqui berries are a deep purple superfruit from Patagonia in Chile, rich in anti-oxidants. The Mapuche Indians used them in a fermented beverage to give warriors strength and stamina.  Sweet and tart, you can add maqui powder to a fruit smoothie or sprinkle on muesli.

Purslane is one of the many wild salad herbs widely used in mediaeval times,that fell out of use in much of the western world until people rediscovered its nutrient-rich properties. It’s a great source of omega-3, dietary fibre and vitamin A. Native Australians used its seeds in seedcases.

Maca is a Peruvian root that’s claimed to help fertility. Clinical trials also suggest that it may be an aphrodisiac, boosting male libido! Maca comes in nearly every colour of the rainbow: red, gold, green, blue, purple and black. An acquired taste, it’s rich in calcium and potassium, essential trace elements, and fatty acids.

Teff is one of the world’s smallest and most nutrient-packed grains that’s also suitable for celiacs. Coming from northern Ethiopia, it’s high in fibre and iron and provides protein and calcium. You can use the grain like millet and quinoa, and if you buy it ground you can use it partly or wholly in place of regular flour, depending on the recipe.

As quinoa’s less bitter, higher protein cousin, kañiwa comes from the Andes. It’s smaller and fluffier than quinoa, but is also a great source of fibre, iron, calcium and zinc. Serve it like rice or couscous as a side dish, or combine it in a salad.

Cupuaçu is a caffeine-free energy booster, related to cocoa. Grown throughout the Amazon basin, its white pulp is very fragrant, tasting like chocolate and pineapple. It’s very high in antioxidants, essential fatty acids and amino acids, and was tipped by market researcher firm Mintel as the next big thing in superfruits. Cupuaçu is great in a smoothie.

Aronia berry
Aronia berries are Poland’s secret superfruit. Also known as chokeberries, they’re native to the US but have been grown as a crop in Eastern Europe since the 1950s. They’re high in vitamins, minerals and folic acids, and are one of the richest food sources of antioxidants. Sweet but very astringent, aronia mixes well with other fruits, and can be made into smoothies, pies and even bread.

Most exotic superfoods are available online if you can’t find them in your local healthfood store and want to try them out now. Those that become most popular will – like quinoa and kale – soon make their way onto supermarket shelves.