Why waste your calorie intake with so called empty calories – foods that contain calories but no nutrients like soda and chips?

Enter superfoods, which contain a whole lot of nutrients for the amount of calories they deliver. Incorporate these 7 exotic superfoods to strengthen your health, avoid sickness, feel more energetic, and even lose weight!

1. Avocado oil

Avocado oil is obtained from the pulp of the fruit, and rich in healthy fats and antioxidants. 70% of the oil is made up of oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid which stimulates heart health and increases the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol.

In addition to healthy fats, avocado oil is rich in antioxidants, which help to combat free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress on the body and even contribute to diseases over time. Its high Vitamin E fights aging, and lutein, which is a carotenoid that promotes good eye health, lowers the risk for age-related eye disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Lastly, avocado oil does not merely provide carotenoids; it enhances their absorption. Add a few drops of avocado oil to your salads to reap the benefits of the vegetables you are eating.

2. Tiger nuts

Tiger nuts are a misnomer; they are actually a type of sweet-tasting tuber and a good source of vitamins like C and E, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. This also makes them ideal for the lactose-intolerant.

They are a good source of non-meat protein, and an extremely plentiful source of dietary fibre, which makes up over 30% of the nut. Consumption of the tuber is also beneficial to those suffering from hypertension due to the high levels of arginine, an amino acid. On a more practical note, tiger nuts prevent bloating and stomach cramps, especially after a large meal.

3. Maca root

A member of the cruciferous family (like broccoli and cabbage), maca grows in South America, high up in the Andes Mountains. Ancient Incan tribes used to consume maca before battle. They were on to something – maca is an adaptogen, which means that it lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which gives rise to many undesirable side-effects when chronically elevated, such as anxiety.

It is a pleasant-tasting, nutrient-dense root that is usually powdered. When consumed, many report feeling more energetic, lively and feeling good, all of which may be attributed to the ability of maca to restore healthy hormone balance in the body while increasing the level of endorphins which encourage a sense of well-being.

4. Teff

This nutty-tasting Ethiopian grain is gluten-free and high in fibre, making it a good wheat substitute for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. It is low in saturated fat, sodium, and has a low glycaemic index (GI), helping to control blood sugar levels, a boon to diabetics. It contains approximately 20 to 40% resistant starches.

Teff is high in protein, vitamin C (which is not usually found in grains), and minerals like manganese, phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminium, barium, thiamine. It is ideal for vegetarians or those with anaemia, as the iron is more bioavailable than other non-meat sources.

5. Maqui

This berry grows wild in the rainforests in Chile and Argentina. It has been found to have an unprecedented level of antioxidants, even when compared to other foods known to have high antioxidant power like blackberries. The primary antioxidant in maqui is anthocyanin, which protects the body from the toxic effects of free radicals. They may also offer cardiovascular and anti-viral benefits.

6. Watermelon seeds

This Chinese New Year snack is loaded with many minerals like phosphorous, iron, potassium, sodium, copper, manganese and zinc. However, it is most abundant in magnesium – one cup of dried seeds contains 556mg, or 139% of the recommended daily value. Magnesium helps to manage blood pressure, preventing conditions like heart disease and stroke. It also regulates the body’s metabolism of carbohydrates, which also helps maintain a healthy level of blood sugar. They are rather high in protein – with one cup of dried seeds containing 61% of the DV – but also calories from fat.

7. Purple fruits and vegetables

The darker the food, the higher the level of antioxidants, which prevent free radical damage that contributes to the aging process. Fruits and vegetables with purple pigment, such as acai berries, and beets, contain large amounts of flavonoids, including resveratrol, which can help decrease blood pressure by relaxing the arterial walls. They also contain anthocyanins, which may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. MIMS

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