Three little-known superfoods to add to your diet

·2-min read
AGE FOTOSTOCK

From blueberries to beetroot, many different fruits and vegetables are regularly referred to as "superfoods".

To be classed as a superfood, a particular food must be dense in nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, and usually low in calories.

Read on for a lowdown of three lesser-known superfoods to check out right now.

Yuzu

A type of citrus mainly cultivated in Japan, Korea, and China, yuzu is taking the culinary world by storm. It is often used in seasoning, sauces, marmalades, drinks, and desserts, but is not consumed on its own - it has a sharp flavour akin to a combination of lemon, lime and grapefruit.

"The reason Yuzu was traditionally used as a medicine - and particularly for warding off colds - is very likely to be down to its high concentration of vitamin C," noted Kash Atwal, co-founder of Operate. "If you can get your hands on some yuzu fruit, it can be utilised in much the same way as lemons and limes with both the juice and zest useable to add flavour and zing to food dishes or drinks. You can also now buy yuzu juice, and other drinks made with it, but do check the sugar levels in these products or you may well be negating the health benefits."

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, also known as winter cherry or Indian ginseng, is a medicinal herb.

You're most likely to have heard of it if you are familiar with Ayurveda - the ancient Indian system of medicine which takes a natural, holistic approach to fighting disease.

"As per the Ayurvedic position, this herb has benefits for both physical and mental health and wellbeing," he noted. "In physical terms, not only have studies shown that ashwagandha can help to reduce both blood glucose and triglycerides (fat in the blood), implying positive effects in diabetes, it has also been shown to improve the performance of the heart and lungs when it comes to delivering oxygen to muscles."

Ashwagandha can be consumed as a health supplement in capsule or powder form but, if you are not one for popping pills, it can be taken as a tonic.

"Unlike some herbs, this can be rather bitter, so it is best mixed with other ingredients," added Kash.

Griffonia seed

These are the seeds of the Griffonia simplicifolia plant, which is a climbing shrub found in west and central Africa. Local people use the leaves to make palm wine and the sap can also be consumed.

"The superfood qualities of the Griffonia seed are that of 5-HTP, another substance that has undergone substantial research. This is an amino acid which is naturally produced in the body, and it helps your body to produce serotonin, a chemical messenger that transmits signals between nerve cells," stated Kash. "As with ashwagandha, 5-HTP supplements are readily available. It is also found in combination with nutrients with similar properties, for example, sleep-promoting ingredients, in supplement form or drinks."