Trying different foods from around the world is a great way to find new and exciting flavors that you can incorporate into your diet. To make sure you're picking the healthiest options, we've explored some of the superfoods found in traditional dishes around the globe, from Brazil to Turkey to Malaysia. Check out our list of the world's best superfoods, and test out some new healthy flavors in your next meal.
Turmeric, the primary spice found in Indian curry, is pretty powerful. Just one tablespoon
of ground turmeric packs in 16 percent of your daily intake of iron. It's also a great source of vitamins A and B6. Extracts from the spice have high amounts of the compound curcumin
, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric may also prevent heart attacks after bypass surgery
, improve the success of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients, and suppress the growth
of head and neck cancers.
In Greece, olives are heart-healthy stars. Olives contain monounsaturated fats
, which can lower cholesterol and regulate insulin. Kalamata olives contain the phenol hydroxytyrosol, which may prevent abnormal cell growth
and DNA damage, according to The Dr. Oz Show. Olive oil is also a good bet, since it's rich in polyphenols, thought to protect against cancer and inflammation. The oil is also known for its vitamin E and beta-carotene
. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil can help prevent clotting
and heart disease. It may also help build strong bones
and improve brain health.
You can find cilantro in Mexican guacamole and Portuguese soup, but Vietnamese cuisine
actually relies heavily on this flavorful herb. The leafy green may help to control blood sugar and cholesterol
, but also has bacteria-fighting properties. Cilantro has been known to ease the pain of menstrual cramps, digestive gas and arthritis and prevent urinary tract infections. As a good source of zinc, the leafy green could help fight off unpleasant symptoms of the common cold
comes in many forms in Japanese cuisine. One cup
of soybeans contains 33 grams of protein, which may lower blood cholesterol
, and high amounts of many essential amino acids. Soybeans also contain natural isoflavones that seem to have anti-cancer properties. One study found that the peptides in soybeans
can stop the growth of colon cancer, liver cancer and lung cancer in scientific labs.
While the shiitake mushroom is also native to Japan and China, it also stars in Korean cuisine, and is one of the best sources of vitamin D
around. Shiitake mushrooms have been shown to lower cholesterol and improve the immune system
. But the real boon in this superfood is lentinan
, a compound that seems to possess anti-tumor properties. It's been associated with higher survival rates
and quality of life in cancer patients.
What Italian meal would be complete without that amazing tomato flavor? Tomatoes
are full of vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber. As if that wasn't enough, tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that gives the fruit its red hue thought to promote normal cell growth
and prevent the growth of breast, colon and prostate cancer cells. Studies show that tomatoes also contain anti-inflammatory powers
and have the potential to lower the risk of strokes
and prevent blood clotting.
Found in the famous paella, clams add a host of health benefits to Spanish cuisine. There are compounds that lower cholesterol, and the high level of polyunsaturated fats
can lower the risk of heart disease. This shellfish
also has enough iron in 100 grams to meet 78 percent of your daily intake. A serving is also a great source of vitamin B12.
Found in burritos, salads, soups and more, black beans have a lot to offer classic Mexican cuisine. Like most beans
, these are a great source of fiber. However, black beans in particular jam in 15 grams of protein
in one cup and have more antioxidant properties
than other beans.
Whether it's consumed as a tea, sliced or juiced
, ginger has long been used as a home remedy for a number of ailments. The root, a star in Thai cuisine, has been used to ease nausea and digestive problems. Some research shows the potential for its use as a painkiller
to treat arthritis, joint pain or muscle soreness. Recent research has also shown that it could benefit those suffering from asthma
. The National Institutes of Health also associates ginger with treatments for migraines, toothaches and coughs.
While used in many Mediterranean dishes, cumin can be found on many traditional Turkish plates. The spice is a great source of iron and calcium and has been shown to lower blood glucose levels
, important for people with diabetes. It also contains antibacterial properties
, which have been shown to effectively kill the bacteria associated with stomach ulcers. Cumin has been consumed for digestive problems, bloating and even as an aphrodisiac
As the main ingredient in the traditional Sambal -- the spicy condiment popular in Malaysia -- chili pepper packs on the heat and health qualities. The spice fights inflammation and provides natural pain relief. Researchers are currently studying its effects on arthritis
and blood pressure
. Chili pepper has also been found to clear congestion and aid in weight loss
Brazilian papaya is not only tropical and sweet, but packed with nutrients. Just one small fruit contains 95.6 milligrams of vitamin C
! This, along with vitamins A and E make the papaya a juicy form of protection against the common cold. Chock full of antioxidants, papaya has been shown to protect against heart disease and colon cancer
. These antioxidants also help improve skin and the immune system. The fruit also contains the superpowers of lycopene
, although not at quite the same level as the tomato.
A popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine, bok choy was originally cultivated
during the Ming dynasty. As part of the cruciferous -- or cabbage -- family, bok choy is known for its powerful antioxidants. With a high concentration of the antioxidant kaempferol
, bok choy also seems to have anti-cancer properties. One cup of this veggie is loaded with vitamin C and contains more than 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A
As the largest wine producer in the world, the French know about the health benefits they harvest. Red wine has long been praised for its powerful antioxidant, resveratrol. This key ingredient prevents damage
to the blood vessels and reduces "bad" cholesterol, or LDL. It has also been linked to a reduction in the risk of breast cancer
. Studies have shown that any alcohol, including white
wine, raises HDL, or "good" cholesterol, and may reduce blood clots. Wine may also improve women's overall health
-- when consumed in moderation
, of course.
Clarification: The text has been update to reflect that shiitake mushrooms are native to multiple Asian countries.