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Five trending superfoods you need to know about

For wellness junkies who have grown tired of that acai-pitaya smoothie bowl, there’s a whole new wave of superfoods coming to a blender near you.

We asked Los Angeles raw food chef Sophie Jaffe, founder of superfood blend brand Philosophie, to tell us what nutrient-packed ingredients she’s putting in her blender, sauces, yogurt and pancakes these days.

Jaffe, who has helped shape up the diets of George Clooney and Gerard Butler and other Hollywood celebrities, says next says that although these ingredients are not exactly new, she is using:

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MACA ROOT

This Peruvian relative to the radish has been used for centuries to increase energy and focus, ease symptoms of menopause, regulate hormones, boost mood and enhance libido. It is an excellent source of antioxidants and vegan protein, and rich in calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium. “Maca gives me energy and helps ground me a little bit,” Jaffe says. 

How to use it

Powdered maca has a malty flavor and blends well with bananas, chocolate, almond milk, cinnamon and Stevia for a tasty superfood smoothie or mixed with nuts in an energy bar.

CAMU CAMU

These immunity-boosting berries, derived from shrubs in the Amazon rain forest, are said to contain more vitamin C than any other single food source on the planet. The berries also provide essential amino acids good for muscle growth and recovery.

How to use it

Mostly sold in powdered form, camu camu is very tart, so you’ll probably want to mix it in a smoothie with something sweet, like bananas or strawberries, Jaffe says. It also works well in salad dressings or sprinkled in yogurt.

REISHI MUSHROOMS

Dubbed “the mushroom of immortality,” this staple of Asian herbal medicine is lauded on the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s integrative medicine site for its many purported health benefits. Reishi mushrooms contain beta glucans, which some experts believe may help stop the growth of cancer cells by boosting immune system function. The mushrooms are used by some to help lower blood pressure and help with allergies.

How to use it

The bitter woody taste of reishi, sold in powders, extracts and in dried form, goes well with teas and coffees. Jaffe also mixes it into hot chocolate, oatmeal and baked goods.

MESQUITE

When most of us think mesquite, we think of wood-smoked barbecue. But the pods of this tree that grows in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico also pack a nutritional punch when ground into a powder. Slightly sweet, mesquite is rich in fiber, protein, calcium, iron, zinc and potassium.

How to use it

Jaffe says that it adds “another dimension in flavor” to smoothies and that it’s great combined with cacao or cocoa powder in desserts. 

HO SHOU WU

This Chinese herb, spelled many ways, is a member of the buckwheat family and roughly translates as “Black-Haired Mr. He.” Grown in central and southern China, it has traditionally been used to restore hair color, strengthen nails, reduce cholesterol,  support better liver and kidney function and ease backaches and dizziness. It’s also used to boost sex drive. Goop maven Gwyneth Paltrow combines it with cacao and honey to make “Sex Bark” candy.

How to use it

Add it to a cup of tea. Jaffe combines ho shou wu with coconut milk, honey, cinnamon and her own coconut butter and cacao for a warming chai-type drink to ramp up the immune system and energy levels.

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