Nutrition trade magazine Today's Dietitian just released their predicted top 10 most popular superfoods for this year. And while many of the results are tried-and-true healthy diet staples, some might surprise you!
1. Seeds of All Kinds
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For being so tiny, seeds sure pack a nutritional punch. Take chia seeds for example. They're chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and antioxidants, making them great for both digestion and weight loss, Amanda Goldfarb, R.D.N., a holistic coach in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, told Shape. They're easy to include in everything from smoothies to energy balls, and they have a totally unique and filling texture. The easiest way to eat them is actually in pudding, which couldn't be simpler to make—just check out this recipe from Oh She Glows to see for yourself. Plus, don't forget about all the other seeds out there, like flax, sesame, hemp, pomegranate, and sunflower. They make awesome salad toppings, traditional baking ingredient replacements, and more!
Photo: Oh She Glows
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Everyone loves avocado, and according to the survey—which included the responses of more than 1,700 registered dietitians—it's not going anywhere. It's so popular, in fact, that people are constantly finding new ways to eat avocado. Though this magically delicious fruit is composed of over 75 percent fat, it's the healthy kind! Because of its neutral flavor, you can add avocado to almost anything, including your morning smoothie. If you've never made a pasta sauce with it, you might want to get on that. You can thank us later.
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Nuts are another source of healthy fat that should be a staple in any well-rounded diet. Though almonds tend to be a nutritionist favorite, there are SO many kinds to choose from, and they all offer the benefits of fiber, protein, and various vitamins and minerals. Not only can they help to reduce your cholesterol, but a recent study even found that tree nuts can reduce your risk for diabetes. From nut butters to salad toppers, these nutrient-dense foodstuffs can be added to virtually any dish. Or you can just eat them on their own—we love this simple but delicious recipe from Shaw's Simple Swaps. (For some inspiration, see these 10 healthy nut recipes.)
Photo: Shaw's Simple Swaps
4. Fermented Foods
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Fermented foods might not have the most appealing name, but their benefits are way more than enough to make up for it. Known to have probiotic qualities, fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, tempeh, and kimchee all contain levels of beneficial bacteria that can aid in digestion and boost your immune system. So not only are these foods tasty, but you're also getting some major health benefits from them. That's what we'd call a win-win.
5. Ancient Grains
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Most of the grains we eat today are refined, which removes some of the healthy nutrients that are supposed to naturally come along with them. Ancient grains, on the other hand, are totally unrefined, meaning all the good stuff is still intact, majorly upping their nutritional value. Recent research even found that these guys can reduce your cholesterol and lower your blood sugar, two things that are seriously important to your health. The most popular ancient grain is quinoa, which works in pretty much every kind of dish but especially salads. Many ancient grains are also gluten-free, like amaranth, millet, and sorghum, making them versatile and appropriate for those with dietary restrictions.
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Though some people are over kale, according to dietitians it's still going strong as a superfood trend. This leafy green has tons of health benefits, like being high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and calcium. While we love experimenting with new and different types of green veggies, kale will always be the salad base king. (Scope these creative ways to cook with the original superfood veggie.)
7. Green Tea
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Green tea has long been lauded for its ultra-healthy properties. In fact, it boosts your metabolism, helps lower cholesterol, and improves brain function, among other awesome things. It's also the source of matcha, a green tea powder that has its roots in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, which is arguably one of the biggest food trends right now. There are endless ways to drink matcha, though a simple latte like this one from Alyssa and Carla is most common. You can also cook with matcha and make everything from baked goods to perfectly seasoned vegetables. (Tired of drinking regular ol' brewed tea? These eight drinks take your matcha tea to the next level.)
Photo: Alyssa and Carla
8. Coconut Products
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Once thought of as just a topping for sweet treats, coconut has become a nutritional mainstay. Coconut oil, which is packed with healthy fat, is now used for cooking almost anything and can even be used for beauty purposes, like moisturizing dry skin. While it's possible to take the coconut oil craze too far (oil pulling, which is often done with coconut oil, is not really a thing), it's just so useful in the kitchen and beyond. But why stop at oil? You can use the rest of the coconut to cook, too. The fruit can be used to replace other ingredients like dairy, sugar, and oil, or as a sweet coating for a delicious dessert.
9. Exotic Fruits
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One of the most exciting trends in the report was exotic fruits. What exactly are these? Well, pretty much anything you don't commonly see in the grocery story is considered "exotic." Examples include dragon fruit, mangosteen, jackfruit, star fruit, pomelo, and kumquat. Some of these fruits have serious nutritional cred, like the dragon fruit, which lowers bad cholesterol, reduces blood sugar levels, and carries a hefty dose of antioxidants. Because of its texture and ability to absorb flavor, jackfruit has been discovered to be an awesome meat substitute, and the more meat alternatives, the merrier! You can even make it taste like BACON, like Simple Sweet Vegan did. Sign us up. (Wondering how the heck to cook with jackfruit? These 10 vegan recipes will help you figure it out.)
Photo: Sweet Simple Vegan
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This healthy diet cornerstone appears on every list of the best foods to eat for a reason. Plus, Victoria Beckham claims she eats it every single day. Why? Since it's one of the best sources of omega-3s and filled to the brim with protein, salmon is basically a nutritional powerhouse. While some worry about whether they should eat farm-raised or wild salmon, the truth is both will benefit your body, so get grilling.