The new superfoods: What to eat in 2015

Over the last year, we’ve been touting the benefits of superfoods like chia seeds, kale and quinoa. In 2015 we’ll see some old favourites (hello, dark chocolate!), as well as some new go-to foods. Here’s what you can expect on your plate this year

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Ancient grains like amarantha, kañiwa and teff

According to the Whole Grains Council, quinoa won't be the go-to grain of choice for long. Varieties like amarantha and teff will also be picking up in popularity. And, as we reported earlier this year, kañiwa (also known as baby quinoa) is another great alternative. Like quinoa, it's gluten-free, vegan and an excellent source of amino acids, but despite its smaller size, it actually packs more protein than quinoa.

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Fermented foods

"This is my top superfood trend for 2015 because it packs a huge nutrition punch and they are incredible for gut health," says Joy McCarthy, a holistic nutritionist and founder of joyoushealth.ca.

 

Meghan Telpner, a Toronto-based nutritionist, agrees: "The prime benefit of fermented foods is aiding digestion, which has several good side effects, including a healthy immune system, improved complexion, and more."

Think of fermented foods as the ultimate digestive aid. They provide good bacteria to our guts, which helps protect the gut lining and maintains a healthy balance of gut microbiota, which are the bacteria inside our stomach. An imbalance of healthy bacteria can lead to intestinal permeability and low-grade inflammation - and that has been linked to obesity, disease and mental health problems.

 

Both McCarthy and Telpner suggest Genuine Health Fermented Vegan Proteins+ as a way to incorporate fermented foods into your daily diet.

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Dark chocolate

We don't expect dark chocolate to leave the superfoods list anytime soon - especially not since we heard so much good news about it in the last year. The health benefits are endless: the antioxidants in cacao have been shown to boost heart health, fight diabetes, protect against UV damage and even soothe stress. Plus, a little piece of dark chocolate after your meal helps curb cravings so you don't overindulge on the sweets.

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Cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts and cauliflower

It may surprise you but experts are predicting that cauliflower will overtake kale as one of the more popular superfoods. This cruciferous veggie is an excellent source of vitamin C. "Research also suggests that cauliflower contains phyto-chemicals which helps the body detox excess estrogen," says Telpner. "It's a great replacement for potato if you're trying to follow a low-carb diet."

 

Meanwhile, Brussels sprouts are packed with anti-cancer compounds which flush out carcinogens and may also help prevent tumour growth.

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Dandelion greens

These bitter leafy greens may just become your preferred salad greens. The benefit is due to the bitter taste, says Telpner. "It switches on our digestive juices, which helps to detoxify the liver." Dandelion greens are also an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, and a good source of fibre, calcium, manganese, iron and B vitamins.

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Black rice

According to the Whole Grains Council, black rice has an antioxidant (specifically, anthocyanins) amount six times higher than common brown or white varieties, and similar to the amount of antioxidants in blueberries. Anthocyanins are believed to have a positive effect on heart health.

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Butter

Believe it or not, but clarified butter, or ghee as it's also known, is bound to become more popular this year, fuelled in part by the popularity of the paleo diet and bulletproof coffee. "It's a healthy fat, which is especially important for women," says Telpner. "Studies have shown that women have lower rates of heart disease if they have a diet that contains high-quality fats."

 

Ditching diet foods and instead opting for more "whole" real foods is likely to be a trend that's here to stay. Says McCarthy: "A nutrition trend that I think will continue to grow and get bigger and bigger in 2015 is eating "whole" real foods. I think people are realizing the combined benefits of many different nutrition philosophies from veganism to vegetarianism and paleo."

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Coconut flour

"Coconut flour has superfood status because it's a nutrient heavyweight. Gram for gram compared to other flours it carries the highest fiber and highest protein content," says McCarthy. "It has a wonderful light coconut flavour and my favourite way to enjoy it is in pancakes."

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Sprouted foods

"When a food is sprouted, it becomes alive and it's nutrients multiply," says McCarthy. "Sprouted foods are high in B vitamins, high in minerals like potassium, iron and calcium and the protein is far more bioavailable."

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Local superfoods

Superfoods may also be found in your own backyard. For example, the chaga mushroom, found in Ontario, is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and high in antioxidants, says Telpner. It also has powerful anti-cancer benefits. A 2004 study published in the journal BioFactors found that chaga mushroom extract offers cellular protection against DNA damage. "Get the benefits from chaga tea or in a latte," says Telpner.