Gulfood 2021: Four weird and wonderful superfoods to help boost your immunity

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the virtues of everyday superfoods

Wakame seaweed salad with nut sauce, garnished with sesame seeds and red chili pepper
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Often found in the depths of the Amazon rainforest or the deep blue sea, nutritionists have been raving about superfoods for years.

While the name was coined for marketing purposes, there is no doubt some foods are worthy of the title.

There are a host of weird and wonderful products that pack a punch when it comes to being nutrient-rich.

The components of the horned melon, for instance, which is often found in sub-Saharan Africa, have been linked to antioxidant benefits.

And the rambutan, native to Southeast Asia, is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium and potassium.

But not all superfoods are hard to come by. The everyday type includes seaweed, nuts and mushrooms.

Gabriela Zuniga, a health coach in Dubai, said the pandemic has brought the virtues of everyday superfoods back in focus.

“People forget that we come face to face with foods termed ‘super’ almost every day,” she said on the sidelines of Gulfood.

“Not everything is unusual or exotic; for example mushrooms and sea salt have a host of benefits.

"Pink salt contains so many health-promoting trace minerals including phosphorus, bromine, and iron.

“When you talk about superfoods of the future, there isn’t just one. There are many out there and they are already in use.”

Nowadays, she said more people, including chefs, are turning to health foods to boost their immune system and keep viruses like Covid-19 at bay.

“About 80 per cent of immune cells are located in the gut, so if you eat a good diet, you strengthen your immunity,” she said.

Here, The National has picked out some unusual superfoods to look out for on your next trip to the health food store.

Maca powder

The maca root comes from Peru and is found growing in the Andes region. Getty

The maca root comes from Peru and is most often found growing in the Andes region. It grows underneath the soil and looks similar to a bulb of garlic.

Often sold in powder form, it is ideal to dilute in drinks as a nutritional supplement and can also be added to pastries for baking.

It has a high content of amino acids and minerals, helps to increase energy and helps to drive down high blood pressure.

Camu Camu powder

Camu camu has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the world. Getty

Another Peruvian delight, camu camu is found growing on trees, like berries, in tropical rain forests.

This unique fruit has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the world.

“If I recommend you take anything during this pandemic it would be camu camu powder,” Ms Zuniga said.

“It is very bitter so I would add just a teaspoon a day to something like water or almond milk.”

So why is it considered a superfood? The berry helps stimulate the production of white blood cells, and is a key component in the production of collagen.

Wakame seaweed

Wakame seaweed salad with nut sauce, garnished with sesame seeds and red chili pepper

We can’t mention superfoods without mentioning seaweed.

In Japan, Wakame seaweed has been cultivated for centuries by sea farmers. Nowadays, because chefs in places like Europe like to use it in soups and salads, it is grown in sea fields around the world, including in New Zealand and France, and dried in the sun.

It has a subtly sweet, but distinctive and strong flavour and texture.

It is a great source of iodine and omega 3's, which are good for your bones and also help your heart, muscles, and nerves function properly.


Close up of lucuma fruits on a tree in the rainforest of the Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica

This fruit also grows in South America and takes on a very peculiar taste; nor sweet, savoury or bitter.

Described as starchy by those that try it, lucuma is harvested at high elevations and can be used as an alternative of natural sweetener.

The round fruit, bought in powder form, can be added to ice creams, yoghurts and pastries as a daily supplement.

When we talk about benefits, it is a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals such a potassium.

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