Do you consider yourself to be adventurous with food? I don’t know if I would call myself ‘adventurous’ but I have tried many different, what some might call strange, foods. I love to travel and one of my favorite things to do is try local food. I’ve had chicken hearts, beef liver, and various exotic fruits I’ve managed to get my hands on, and I always order something I haven’t tried before off the menu.
My exploration of weird and wonderful food has been entirely because of curiosity but there is another, more serious reason you should consider trying some ‘different’ foods – health. Here are some foods you probably didn’t know existed but may want to familiarize yourself with in the name of health.
Natto is made from fermented and cooked whole soybeans that become a sticky, cottage cheese-like meal with a very strong smell. This traditional Japanese dish is often served as a topping for rice, in miso soups or added to vegetables.
Why you should eat it: The fermentation process that natto undergoes creates a bacterial culture that gives a super-boost to its Vitamin K content, making it the most vitamin K-rich food there is. Vitamin K is excellent for a healthy skeletal and circulatory system because it helps blood flow smoothly throughout the body. On top of that, natto’s soy proteins not only provide a great source of vegetable protein but they also act as anti-inflammatories that can help reduce or prevent pain and inflammation. So if you’ve got high blood pressure and arthritic pain, organic natto may be a great dish for you.
Bee pollen are small granules that bees create when they’ve collected pollen from flowers. Jars of bee pollen can be found in health food stores and can be blended into smoothies or used to make a nice bitter-sweet tasting salad, yogurt or even popcorn topping.
Why you should eat it: Just like raw honey, bee pollen has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties but substantially amplified in a condensed form. It contains rutin, caffeic acid methyl caffeate, phenylethyl caffeate, and phenylethyl dimethylcaffeate which are excellent for boosting the body’s immune system and healing tissues. Bee pollen is also high in proteins, amino acids, and vitamins, including B-complex and folic acid, making it an all-around mega supplement for your body.
Many people fear eating meat’s inner organs. Little do they know that the inner organs are actually the most packed source of vitamins and minerals of all animal meats. And no, they are not full of toxins. Organs like the liver and kidneys filter toxins from the body and store nutrients. So rather than tossing these precious pieces aside for your pet, consider integrating them into some of your meals.
Why you should eat it: Organ meat contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food source. It is especially high in vitamin A which helps with the stabilization of biological membranes, protects tissues, and is especially good for the nervous tissues. It is also high in vitamin D which is essential for strong bones and joints, and in all B vitamins which have an array of health benefits for the body. If you really want a superfood, this is one to try.
Sunflower lecithin is usually sold as a supplement, rather than as a food ingredient like soy lecithin because it costs more to produce. It can, however, be used in much the same way while providing added health benefits. Use it to make vegan mayonnaise or to improve the moisture and elasticity of your gluten-free doughs.
Why you should eat it: Sunflower lecithin is an excellent antioxidant that can help protect cells from oxidative and environmental damage, thanks to its great source of fat soluble A and E vitamins and phosphatidylcholine. It can also improve the body’s resistance to infections by generating increases in gamma globulin. This healthy fat that functions as an emulsifier in food also neutralizes cholesterol deposited in the walls of the arteries and veins, preventing blood pressure problems, improving brain function, and capturing impurities, toxins, excess hormones, and cellular debris to flush out of the body. What a great way to keep your body healthy!
Mulberries look a lot like blackberries but have various tones of red and a sweet, tart taste to them. They can be eaten raw or easily dehydrated to make a nice snack on the go when added to a trail mix.
Why you should eat them: Mulberries contain phytochemicals like anthocyanins, cyanidins, reservatrol, lutein, zea-xanthin, alpha and beta carotenes that work together as antioxidants protecting cells from damage caused by oxidative stress. They also protect the health of neurons in the brain and can keep cholesterol levels under control with their anthocyanins and glycocides. These small berries pack a punch of health benefits.
Cacao nibs are raw cacao beans with the husk removed and broken into smaller pieces for their bitter, chocolaty taste. They can be delicious additions to various dessert recipes.
Why you should eat them: The flavonoids of cacao have been shown to help protect the body from free radicals and DNA from damage. Its polyphenols, like epicatechin, catechin, and quercetin, provide amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. From improvements in blood circulation to enhancements in brain function and mood, raw cacao can be a great healthy treat.
Even if you’re not particularly adventurous with food but do consider yourself to be health-conscious, these weird and wonderful foods might just be worth the step out of your comfort zone. To learn more about these and other weird and wonderful foods, and just how healthful they are for your body and mind, check out ph360 and ShaeTM. You might just find yourself more adventurous and healthier than ever before.