I am writing about five future super foods that are good for you and the planet. Globally we rely on only a very small range of foods.
This has an adverse impact our health and the health of our planet. Rice, maize and wheat make up nearly 60% of calories from plants in our diets. While people may be getting sufficient calories, these narrow diets don’t provide enough vitamins and minerals.
Once a staple mainly eaten in Bolivia and Peru, quinoa has now become a familiar food around the world. A new report lists 50 so-called future foods which are both healthy and good for the environment.
Five of these are below:
The Moringa tree is a fast growing and drought resistant tree found in south Asia. The leaves can be harvested up to seven times a year and contain vitamins A and C and minerals like calcium and potassium.
In the Philippines and Indonesia, it is common to cut the long seed pods into shorter lengths to be stewed in curries and soups. These pods also contain seeds which are rich in oleic acid which has been linked to higher levels of “good” cholesterol in the body.
The leaves can be ground into a powder to be used in smoothies, soups, sauces and teas.
In Japan Wakame seaweed has been cultivated for centuries by sea farmers. In ancient times offerings of it were made to the spirits and even taxes were paid in seaweed.
Nowadays it’s also grown in sea fields in France, New Zealand and Argentina. It can be grown all year round, without using fertilisers or pesticides and dried in the sun.
The dried seaweed adds a delicious, salty flavour to food and it’s also one of the few plant-based sources of eicosapentaenoic acid – the omega 3 fatty acid which is almost exclusively found in fatty fish that feed on algae.
Wakame also contains a large amount of fucoidan, a dietary fibre which has also shown potential in animal studies to lower blood pressure, to have anti-blood coagulation properties and even anti-tumour properties.
A common ingredient in Mexican cuisine the leaves, fruit and flattened shoots of Nopales or prickly pear can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into juice or jam. It’s easily grown in Central and South America, Australia and even Europe.
Some clinical studies suggest that fibre from cacti helps the body to excrete more of the fat we eat. Other trials suggested it can reduce blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.
This ancient African grain is known for its nutty taste. Dating back more than 5,000 years, there’s evidence it was cultivated in ancient Egypt. Fonio’s grains are tiny and look like sand. The husk is inedible and needs to be removed before it’s eaten.
Fonio is rich in iron, zinc and magnesium and can be used in place of couscous or rice.
Bambara is a legume that tastes like a sweeter version of a peanut. The Bambara bean can grow in poor soil, making it more fertile. The traditional African legume is also grown in southern Thailand and parts of Malaysia and can be boiled, roasted, fried or milled into a fine flour.
In east Africa the beans are pureed to create a base for soups. It’s known as a complete food, as it’s high in protein and a source of the essential amino acid methionine, which promotes the growth of new blood vessels and the absorption of zinc, which is needed for the body’s immune system and selenium, which helps regulate thyroid function and also plays a role in the immune system.
It’s not enough for us to read things about our planet without putting what we read into practice. There are things we can do, we have time, but we have to want to care. We have to want to change out disciplines, our attitude and our perceptions.
Change those and you will save your planet for future generations to come. They’re relying on you.