The Next Great Superfood

With increasing consumer interest in health and well-being, manufacturers and operators are always looking for ways to deliver the health message in new and inventive ways. Superfoods, known for their wealth of nutrients and antioxidants, are attractive to consumers because of their nutrient density. You’ve heard of quinoa and kale and everyone raving about green tea and chia. So what does the next crop of superfoods look like?

Achacha: native to the Amazonian basin of Bolivia, its Guarani name is achachairú, which literally means “honey kiss”. A smaller relative of the mangosteen, the achacha is a low sugar fruit. Its flavor is described as combination of bananas with vinegar. Loaded with potassium, vitamin C, and folate, it is said to contain HCA (hydroxycitric acid) in large quantities in its skin. HCA is the same active ingredient in Garcinia Cambogia, which is rumored to be a natural appetite suppressant.

Baobab: a tree native to the continent of Africa, it produces a fruit that is very high in vitamin C  and vitamin D (reputed to contain 6 times the vitamin C of an orange equivalent, and double the calcium of milk – National Geographic blog). It is also a great natural thickening agent, with an extremely high pectin count (upwards of 25% by some reports). Flavor-wise, it tastes like a mild pear. But what manufacturers really love is the low water activity, which make processing a simple straightforward process. Expect to find this in predominantly powdered form as an additive to drinks such as smoothies. Baobab Foods in Washington State, produces Baobites™, loaded with the antioxidants, it is the perfect on-the-go bite. Flavors include peach mango, blood orange and pomegranate.

Moringa: also an African native, moringa is loaded with antioxidants and minerals. It is a powerhouse of protein (double that of yogurt), potassium (three times that of bananas), and calcium (quadruple that of calcium). In Africa, it is referred to as the miracle tree. Farms are already popping up all over the Southwestern U.S., which has a similar climate to their native habitat. It is typically taken in tea form, but is also a common ingredient in skin care products.  One new entrant to the retail market is from Kuli Kuli: Moringa Green Energy Shots. Loaded with moringa, in flavors such as ginger lemon, coconut lime, and raspberry, the moringa in these products is directly source from Haiti, specifically women’s co-ops. Good for you, and good for sustainable farming, it’s a win for everyone.

Chlorella: algae is arguably one of the most abundant plant forms in the world, and is a veritable nutritional goldmine. Not only that, but algae has a low cost of production versus other plants. One of the main algal-derived products is algal oil. Solazyme is one company banking on the success of algal food products. One of their products, AlgaVia, contains 63% protein.  Many food manufacturers are already using their products, including Enjoy Life Brownie Mix, Rising Hearts Vegan Brioche, and Califa Farms Coffee Creamer.

Chocho: an Andean lupine bean that is dense and rich in protein. While it does fit the criteria for a superfood, based on its nutritional profile (it has higher protein than either soy or quinoa), manufacturers may be deterred due to its long processing time: it’s high in alkaloids, so requires soaking, rinsing, and extended cooking times. This could hamper its viability in the market place, so don’t expect this one on your supermarket shelves anytime soon.

Cloudberry: naturally occurring above the 44N Latitude marker, cloudberry have a wide distribution, all the way from Scotland to the Arctic Circle. They are similar to raspberries in their appearance and possess a tart flavor. Cloudberries have a long shelf life if stored under refrigeration, due to their high vitamin C content, and at one time were a remedy to prevent scurvy in the Nordic areas. While the majority of production is through wild foraging, commercial production is on the rise.

Stay on the lookout for these superfoods in a supermarket or café near you, it is just a matter of time before you too can enjoy a baobab smoothie.

 

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