In recent years, it's been all about quinoa. Before the mid 2000s, no one was really paying attention to this ancient Andean plant that has been consumed for thousands of years. A complete protein -- which means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids -- quinoa answered everyone's low-carb, high-protein prayers. When the world turned its back on gluten, quinoa (which is gluten-free) was right there waiting for the spotlight. According to Google Trends, quinoa's star just keeps soaring.
Beyond quinoa, a whole range of superfoods keep breaking through from health food obscurity to mainstream. What's the next best miracle food?
Chia seeds are a worthy contender. They've been growing in popularity since 2009, and made a huge leap onto the world's stage in 2013. They're a good source of omega three fats and fiber, and unlike flax, another popular seed, they don't have to be ground up before eating. They're showing up in drinks, in baked goods and puddings.
Acai was an early superfood that saw enormous popularity in 2009. Its star has since fallen fast and hard. Sorry, acai. We still like you.
Coconut oil is one of the most recent health food darlings. People are obsessed, and it doesn't look like the trend is going anywhere for a while. High in saturated fat, it was once vilified by the health world, but in the last year or two, everyone is singing its praises. It's turning up as a vegan substitute for butter in baked goods, as a smoothie enhancer, and the tell-tale sign of any superfood trend, in places it doesn't belong (like in salt & vinegar chips and salad dressing).
Goji berries, which are dense with antioxidants, have also risen in popularity over the last few years. They've been used in Chinese medicine to treat diabetes and high blood pressure, among other things, and people also tout their ability to increase metabolism and boost energy.
But only one of these superfoods can reign supreme. The champion, of course, is quinoa. The world just can't get enough of this super seed these days, and we're finding all kind of ways to capitalize on the quinoa trend. Quinoa whiskey now exists, and so too does drinkable quinoa. If Google is right, there's no end in sight for quinoa, and it's trumping other superfoods by a long shot. Are you sick of quinoa yet? Never want to see it again? You might not have a choice in the matter.
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