Congratulations! If you’re reading this article, then you’re an adventurous eater, and, in terms of health, that’s a very good thing. The human body requires a wide range of different nutrients to function optimally and one of the easiest ways to get all these nutrients is to try new foods. Even better? Try new foods that are in season. Eating seasonally automatically builds variety into your diet, while ensuring you’re eating foods at their nutritional peak.
Here are our picks for seven new foods you should eat now
Pronounced “charred,” Swiss chard can be found in almost any grocery store, and, of all the greens, chard is one of the most nutrient-dense. It’s so nutrient-dense, that it’s one of the first crops being grown in planetary space stations for astronauts. One cup contains more than half of the daily requirement for vitamin A, C, and K, and it also contains 38% of the RDA for magnesium – a mineral that’s crucial to our energy levels, helps us relax, and facilitates more than 350 other enzymatic reactions in the body. Chard also contains whopping 3 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, making this rainbow-colored wonder a complete food in and of itself!
Some love it, some hate it. If you’ve never tried it, we suggest you do, as research shows that this herb can help our bodies detoxify heavy metals which naturally occur in the water, soil, air, and foods we come into contact with every day. It’s impossible to eliminate all traces of heavy metals, but, by making cilantro a regular part of your diet, you can give your body a little extra help. Additionally, cilantro has been found to help produce feelings of calmness and promote a healthy sleep/wake cycle. In fact, a recent study found that high levels of cilantro extract produce similar effects to some prescription medications.
Right up there with chard, arugula is one of the most nutritious greens – it has more antioxidants and it’s higher in calcium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin E than even dark leafy varieties. According to Jo Robinson, author of Eat on the Wild Side, only red lettuce tops it in terms of nutrient content. Like broccoli, kale, and cauliflower, arugula is a member of the cabbage family and contains powerful compounds called glucosinolates, which have been shown to support a strong immune system. But, before you throw a handful into your morning smoothie (we speak from a very unfortunate experience), be aware that arugula has a pretty distinct taste. It’s peppery and slightly bitter. So, while it may not blend well with bananas and Greek yogurt, arugula can add a whole new dimension to your salad game.
You’ve definitely seen parsley before – it’s been a staple on steakhouse platters since the 1980’s – but have you ever actually eaten it? If not, you should. This often-ignored herb is a vitamin powerhouse. One handful (about 3.5 ounces) contains 225% of the RDA for vitamin C – that’s three times the amount in oranges – 168% of vitamin A, and over 2,000% of vitamin K. It contains 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, which is a critical nutrient needed for proper digestion. Many people don’t get enough fiber in their daily diets, so, next time, don’t leave that parsley for the busboy. If you still need some extra help in the fiber department, check out our SmartyPants and Fiber gummies – they’ve got the SmartyPants taste you love, plus the soluble fiber your gut will love even more.
Did you know that you’re probably growing an incredibly nutritious vegetable, right now, in the cracks of your sidewalk? Put down the weed wacker, because the leaves on your dandelions are some of the most vitamin and mineral-packed greens you can get. “Compared to spinach, dandelion greens have eight times more antioxidants, two times more calcium, three times more vitamin A, and five times more vitamin K and E,” says Robinson.
You can usually find dandelion greens at most supermarkets, but those growing in your yard are perfectly okay to eat and are probably even more nutritious – they’re straight from yard to table. Just make sure that they haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals and you wash them thoroughly!
You’ve passed over them at salad bars and may even have a dusty old can lurking in the back of your pantry. Well, it’s time to bust out that can, or, better yet, buy them fresh, as beets far outshine almost all other root vegetables in terms of total-body nutrition. Not only are beets full of essential vitamins and minerals, they also contain several health-boosting nutrients that can be hard to find in other foods.
Beets are rich in nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide – a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels, promoting improved circulation, brain function, muscle function, and healthy blood pressure. Their effect is so powerful in fact, that Olympic athletes have been known to drink beet juice as an alternative to performance-enhancing drugs! Additionally, beets are an excellent source of betaine, folate, and glycine – three nutrients that are crucial for carrying out our body’s detoxification processes. And who couldn’t use a little extra detox every now and then?
Unlike the other foods on this list, you’re probably not going to find a jackfruit at your local grocery store, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth hunting down, or keeping your eyes peeled for one if you happen to be near an Asian market. Inside one of these giant fruits – they can weigh anywhere from 10 to 100 pounds – are hundreds of seeds that are rich in protein, potassium, calcium, and iron. The flesh itself is a good source of vitamin C, and can be prepared and served in dozens of ways from curry to juice, chips, ice cream, and even baking flour.
Jackfruit has been popping off on the vegan scene lately thanks to the fact that, after an hour or so of cooking, the fruit tastes just like pulled pork. Seriously. Look up #jackfruittacos. It’s got the look and texture of meat, plus 20% of your daily fiber recommendation. What makes this fruit even more awesome, is that it’s sustainable and cruelty-free.
If you can’t find an actual jackfruit, you might be able to find products from The Jackfruit Company, which partners with small, locally-owned farms in India. According to the company, replacing meat with jackfruit – whether that’s one day a week, or seven – can help reduce the negative environmental impacts of large-scale farm operations. Food that’s good for us, the planet, and our furry friends? We likey!
Posted on April 6, 2017