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Unexpected foods you didn't know were superfoods

Unexpected foods you didn't know were superfoods

Had your fill of kale? It’s not the only nutrient-packed food on the eat-healthier menu. Here are some superfoods that may surprise you, plus delicious ways to enjoy them.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, and it's really easy to make at home. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, and it's really easy to make at home. (Photo: zeleno/iStock)

Sauerkraut is a fermented superfood teeming with bacteria known as probiotics. These compounds are believed to boost digestive health and are being studied for their potential to protect against inflammation, allergies, and autoimmune disorders.

Sauerkraut is easy to make: All you need are cabbage, salt, and a container suitable for fermenting, such as Mason jar. This recipe suggests adding caraway seeds, a classic sauerkraut seasoning.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds can be sprinkled on a salad, turned into a pudding, or mixed with water as a substitute for eggs in vegan cooking. Chia seeds can be sprinkled on a salad, turned into a pudding, or mixed with water as a substitute for eggs in vegan cooking. (Photo: PamelaJoeMcFarlane/iStock)

Tiny as they are, chia seeds are a better source of fiber and omega 3 fatty acids than flaxseeds are. They also provide significant amounts of calcium and phosphorus. They’re high in protein too: Vegans mix them with water to create a gel that can stand in for eggs in baking.

You can eat your chia seeds sprinkled into cookies or transformed into a pudding. Here’s another delicious option: a non-alcoholic cocktail-hour worthy Thai Basil, Grapefruit and Chia Tonic.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a root that is ground into powder form and used as a spice in many dishes, such as curry, or infused into tea. Turmeric is a root that is ground into powder form and used as a spice in many dishes, such as curry, or infused into tea. (Photo: svera/iStock)

This vibrant yellow spice, ubiquitous in Indian food, has so much nutritional potential that it’s being studied for an array of health benefits. Compounds in turmeric called curcuminoids reduce heart attacks after bypass surgery, relieve pain from knee arthritis, and reduce skin irritation from cancer radiation treatment, according to the National Institutes of Health.

You always can get a healthy dose of turmeric in curry, but the flavor is equally delicious in a warming beverage like this Golden Milk Turmeric Tea.

Watermelon seeds

Watermelon seeds are high in folate, magnesium, and iron. Watermelon seeds are high in folate, magnesium, and iron. (Photo: ayapuengnoom/Shutterstock)

Yes, you really can eat watermelon seeds just as they are. These little black beauties are a rich source of protein, healthy fats, folate, magnesium, and iron. When they’re sprouted, they have more protein per ounce — 10 grams — than either sprouted sunflower seeds or sprouted almonds.

You can purchase ready-to-eat watermelon seeds to snack on, but it’s easy to make your own.

Dulse (red algae)

Dulse, or red algae, is seaweed that tastes like bacon. Dulse, or red algae, is seaweed that tastes like bacon. (Photo: marekuliasz/iStock)

If you’re fishing for a new food that’s got lots of antioxidants, immune-boosting power, and bone-building calcium, red algae is a great catch. Also known as red seaweed, dulse can have a unique flavor: When a certain strain of the algae developed by researchers at Oregon State University is fried, it tastes like bacon — a real find for vegetarians who miss pork.

Dulse looks like translucent red lettuce, making it a natural star in this Seaweed Salad recipe, which also features nutrition-rich carrots, radishes, avocado, and pumpkin seeds.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms can help boost brain power and protect against dementia. Mushrooms can help boost brain power and protect against dementia. (Photo: ©Cameron Whitman/Stocksy United)

Besides being packed with vitamin D, mushrooms boast compounds that stave off cancer, fight inflammation, lower cholesterol, and boost brainpower, according to a new study. Researchers found that certain mushrooms enhance growth of brain neurons and help protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Since different types of mushrooms have different nutritional benefits, mix it up. These Sautéed Wild Mushrooms make a delicious side dish. Fold leftovers into an omelet or spoon over pasta.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that mushrooms contain vitamin B12, which they do not. The error has been corrected.

Top Image Credit: alpaksoy/iStock

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