Find Out What the World’s Smallest Veggie Is—Plus Every Other Superfood That’ll Blow Up in 2022

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Declaring it here first: 2022 will be a year of health, wealth, and good sex (with triple-vaxxed partners, ofc). We all deserve it after the absolute sh*tshow that was the year 2021, aka 2020 the sequel. And although I can’t promise that you will be seeing more commas in your bank account or anything of that nature, I can guarantee you will feel a *bit* healthier after stocking your fridge and entire pantry with this year’s top superfoods. We have all the yummy secrets to eating the healthiest—and trendiest—foods in the new year.

But before you can take the official title of health goddess and culinary trendsetter, let’s talk about what exactly makes a food ~super~. Merriam-Webster defines superfood as “a food that is rich in compounds such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids, considered beneficial to a person’s health.” So basically, they’re foods, ranging from broccoli and salmon to blueberries, that are full of nutrients and offer a multitude of health benefits. I guess this kind of makes superfoods the badass superheroes of any complete diet.

Now that we all know the deal with superfoods, let’s get into what you clicked on this link for! Check out our superfoods list of 10 superstar ingredients that you will be reaching for in place of your beloved avocado, which didn’t make the list this year. (Don’t worry though, you are still totally allowed to order avo toast at New Year’s brunch!)

1. Mankai

There is a good chance you haven’t heard of Mankai, aka the world’s smallest veggie. I sure the hell didn’t know about this tiny superfood until Samina Kalloo, RDN, CDN, nutrition communications lead for Pollock Communications, clued me in on its protein and vitamin-packing powers.

Despite its micro size, Mankai has all nine essential amino acids, vitamin B, iron and over 60 nutrients, says Kalloo. “Plus, with only one in 10 Americans getting enough vegetables, Mankai is an easy and impactful nutrition solution,” Kalloo adds.

Eat it: Unlike a lot of other greens, Mankai has a neutral taste and texture, making it the perfect addition to your morning smoothie, your fave pasta dish, or guac recipe, says Kalloo. And for all the gorgeous, gorgeous girls who love soup out there, Kalloo recommends adding Mankai cubes to your broth for the heartiest of comfort meals.

2. Turmeric

You and your S.O.’s texts shouldn’t be the only spicy thing in your life. Turmeric, a spice that you probably already have in your cupboard, can reduce inflammation, improve memory, lower the risk of some chronic diseases, and fight against free radicals (aka what contributes to aging), says Kalloo.

Eat it: Turmeric is super versatile and can be added to nearly anything and everything. Add a dash to your scrambled eggs in the a.m. Sprinkle on top of your yogurt for a midday snack. And for dinner, try sautéing your favorite veggies with turmeric or adding it to soup. Keep in mind that just a little bit of turmeric goes a long way, says Kalloo.

Pro tip from a dietitian: When cooking with turmeric, add a dash of black pepper to enhance the absorption of the curcumin (the active compound in turmeric), says Chelsea Golub, MS, RDN, CDN.

3. Tahini

You might be familiar with tahini if your late-night munchies include hummus and pita chips. Tahini, a main ingredient of hummus made from grounded sesame seeds, originates in the Middle East, but has made its way to the aisles of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

“It’s a great source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, which means there are lots of anti-inflammatory and heart protective benefits. Also, it provides protein, fiber, iron, copper, calcium, and other minerals that we need in our diet,” says Golub.

Eat it: Give a more savory glow up to a classic, the PB&J, by swapping out peanut butter for tahini to make a T&J. To doctor up your jarred tahini for extra creaminess, Golub recommends mixing in lemon, water, and salt. Add in your favorite seasonings (did someone say Everything but the Bagel?) for a yummy veggie or pita dip.

4. Pomegranate Seeds

It can be a little bit perplexing figuring out what exactly to do with pomegranates or the seeds. But their health benefits def outweigh any lingering confusion you may have. As an antioxidant powerhouse, pomegranate seeds can protect your cells from damage and help prevent disease, says Golub. They are abundant in fiber which aids digestion, in addition to containing vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, Golub says.

Eat it: Of course, you could always make some nature’s cereal à la Lizzo’s viral Tik Tok: fresh berries, coconut water, ice cubes, topped with pomegranate seeds, served in a bowl for an energizing breakfast. Crunchatize a cup of Greek yogurt, your Sweetgreen order, or a morning bowl of oatmeal by adding a small handful of pomegranate seeds, suggests Golub.

5. Moringa

I love matcha, but I think we can all agree it is time to give her a rest. Moringa (nicknamed the “miracle tree” for being drought resistant—how cool is nature!?) is predicted to have a major moment in 2022 as a popular alternative to matcha, says Rachel Bukowski, senior team leader of product Development at Whole Foods Market. Originating in Africa, the moringa leaf is one of the most nutrient-dense plants, packed with vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and protein, officially making it a superstar ingredient, adds Deane Falcone, PhD, chief scientific officer of sustainable agriculture group Crop One Holdings.

Eat it: Add a teaspoon of moringa powder to your go-to smoothie bowl recipe for a vibrant green color that is truly IG worthy. Moringa tea is also a great way to get nutrients first thing in the morning! And if you happen to have a sweet tooth next time you are strolling the aisles of Whole Foods, be on the lookout for moringa-infused desserts like Moringa Mint Chip Frozen Coconut Cream (perfect for all those who are lactose intolerant or vegan!) and Maple Toffee Crunch Chocolate with Moringa, says Bukowski.

6. Cranberries

We’ve all been there: crying while chugging a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice to help combat a painful UTI (IYKYK), but cranberries actually do so much more than just soothing symptoms of a urinary tract infection. On top of being loaded with antioxidants and vitamins C, E, and K, these little crimson-colored berries support gut health by making sure bacteria don’t adhere to other cells, says Kalloo.

Eat it: Beyond the holiday season (#TeamHomemadeCranberrySauce) and the occasional UTI, you probably don’t eat cranberries all that often. Next time you order a salad, ask for dried cranberries to be sprinkled on top for some added sweetness. Cranberries are a great addition to tuna and chicken salad too, says Kalloo. And if you are feeling inspired by your recent Netflix binge of The Great British Bake Off, preheat your oven and whip up a batch of white chocolate cranberry cookies.

7. Fermented Foods

Unlike the pair of skinny jeans that are now sitting in the back of your closet, fermented foods will be trending yet again in 2022. Holding their title as the number one superfood trend for the fourth year in a row, according to a survey conducted by Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian, fermented foods like kimchi, pickles, miso, and yogurt are not going anywhere. The reigning superfood category is linked to improved digestive health and reduced inflammation, Kalloo says. Fermented foods are probiotic-rich, meaning they contain good bacteria to keep your gut happy and healthy.

Eat it: Golub loves to dress up plain Greek yogurt with other superfoods like berries, hemp seeds, or tahini for the perfect protein-packed parfait. “Dairy gets a bad rap…I always say that if you aren’t lactose intolerant, there’s no need to eliminate dairy from your diet,” says Golub.

If your body isn’t a dairy-friendly zone, there are still a ton of other fermented foods you can incorporate into your day-to-day meals. “Add kimchi to an egg scramble or serve it up in a burrito or taco. Toss sauerkraut into coleslaw or other chopped salads. And don’t forget about pickles, which make a great addition to sandwiches and salads,” recommends Kalloo.

8. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous (just a fancy word to describe plants within the cabbage family) vegetables are probably a part of your diet already. These veggies include kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and arugula, among others. With plenty of antioxidants, vitamin K, folate, and fiber, these vegetables are pretty damn super. “Increased consumption in these veggies may be related to decreased depression and improved cardiovascular conditions,” says Golub. So I guess mom was right all along—eat your veggies to live a long and happy life!

Eat it: I know, it is so much easier to UberEats dinner after a hellish day of work, but you can make a delicious and good-for-you meal in no time using some cruciferous veggies and your preferred protein. On a baking sheet, add your protein and a couple handfuls of your vegetable of choice. Drizzle olive oil (adding a healthy fat like olive oil increases the vitamin and mineral absorption and makes digestion easier, says Golub), zhuzh it up with your fav seasonings, and pop it all in the oven for a yummy yet delivery-fee-free dinner.

9. Ancient Grains

Yes, ancient grains do not sound like the most appealing superfood, but they are actually so much cooler than you think. These grains (which include amaranth, teff, quinoa, and farro, among others) are not only nutrient-dense and rich in phytochemicals that may help combat chronic disease, but they are also earth-friendly, says Kalloo. You can nourish your body and Mother Earth at the same time!

Eat it: Amaranth, quinoa, and farro are just a few ancient grains that you can likely find in your local supermarket. And they are actually pretty affordable (yes, superfoods can be super budget-friendly)! Quinoa is an especially versatile ancient grain with endless possibilities. Add it to your tacos or burrito bowls for a Taco Tuesday upgrade everyone will love. Oh, and don’t forget the margs!

10. Hemp Seed

We are unlikely to see marijuana legalization throughout the country in 2022, but we will be seeing more hemp seeds in the new year. Hemp seeds, which come from the cannabis sativa plant, are the perfect addition to literally anything you eat. With an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins, these little seeds support heart health, brain function, and keep your immune system in tip-top shape, which will also be essential, says Kalloo and Golub.

Eat it: Hemp seeds are an easy way to beef up the nutritional value of any meal, says Kalloo. Try sprinkling hemp seeds on your salad (bonus if your base is a cruciferous vegetable like arugula or brussels sprouts!), topping off a bowl of oatmeal for a fulfilling breakfast, or adding to your favorite baked goods for an omega-3 boost to a sweet treat, says Golub.

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