Make room for five new superfoods you’ve probably never heard of—yet. Each of these foods is predicted to become a thing in 2017. But don’t assume that the following superfoods are new. Rather, many are new to us, but long relished in their countries of origin to support health, protect against health woes and add flavor.
1. Watermelon seeds
Remember when seedless watermelons were a fun novelty? Now the seeds themselves are a prized commodity. (And no, you won’t grow a watermelon inside your belly if you swallow one.) Watermelon seeds now rank high among the best superfoods. A mere one-ounce serving of watermelon seeds contains 10 grams of protein, plus they're rich in vitamin B, magnesium and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
But here’s the rub: don’t eat watermelon seeds raw—they need to be roasted and shelled for your body to assimilate their nutrients. For an easy way to get the most out of these nutrient-packed seeds, check out Go Raw’s Sprouted Watermelon Seeds and Dastony’s Watermelon Seed Butter.
A sweet, subtropical fruit nicknamed the 'Gold of The Incas,' lucuma has long been prized as a superfood by Peruvians (as well as their most popular ice cream flavor). Its new incarnation in powder form means lucuma travels easily across borders and may soon find itself the new acai. Rich in beta carotene, iron, zinc, vitamin B3, calcium and protein, lucuma also doubles as a natural sweetener that supports healthy blood sugar.
Add Lucuma powder to a variety of sweet dishes, such as smoothies, yogurt, granola, pudding or pastries for an exotic but healthy flavor boost.
Make it now: Soft & Chewy Quinoa & Lucuma Cookies
Antioxidant-packed moringa boasts an impressive nutritious profile: It supports a healthy inflammatory response, cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels, and it can help protect the liver from oxidative stress. Moringa also known as the Horseradish or Drumstick Tree, is native to India, Pakistan and Nepal.
It has edible leaves, seeds and pods but in the U.S. is typically consumed as a leaf powder supplement, either in capsules or adding moringa powder to smoothies or green drinks. The leaves, high in iron and protein, contain triple the calcium of milk, triple the potassium of bananas and seven times more vitamin C than an orange.
Make it now: Green Macadamia Smoothie with Moringa
4. Tiger nuts
The name is a misnomer, as tiger nuts are considered tubers. Particularly popular with the raw food and paleo set, tiger nuts are high in protein and a special resistant starch, known as prebiotic fiber, a godsend for the friendly bacteria in your gut, which feed off prebiotics to transform into probiotics.
Their texture takes some getting used to, as they are chewy on the outside but give way to a slightly sweet inner kernel. You have to work for each bite and can’t eat them fast, a good criterion for healthy snacks. Tiger nuts are also available peeled and sliced, as a powder or tiger nut flour, and you can make it into a horchata-like drink.
Make it now: Gluten-Free Tigernut French Toast
Despite its name, buckwheat is actually the seed of a broadleaf plant similar to rhubarb (which is why it’s gluten-free). Buckwheat has more protein than rice, wheat, millet or corn and loaded with essential amino acids lysine and arginine, which many grains are deficient in.
Hugely versatile, hulled buckwheat kernels are typically consumed either as groats (uncooked tan to green kernels), or as kasha (roasted buckwheat groats). Kasha—a staple food in Eastern Europe—is often steamed in a stock with onions, olive oil and fresh parsley.
In Japan, where buckwheat has been cultivated for at least 1,000 years, its most popular form is in "soba" noodles—noodles made from buckwheat flour. You can also use buckwheat flour to make any kind of bread; and the groats can be used as an alternative to oatmeal.
Make it now: Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes