Forget the fad diets and 'miracle' slimming aids - science repeatedly tells us that the key to good health is diet and exercise. And amongst the vast array of fabulous natural ingredients on the market, there are some that stand head and shoulders above the rest - the so-called 'superfoods'.

Superfoods for 2013

Pic: Corbis

Continued research often reveals new and surprising foods that boast health-giving, immunity-boosting, disease-fighting properties, and these are the newcomers on the superfood block for 2013.



Chia
The chia seed craze began last year and has been touted as a 'dieter's dream' and 'the running food', thanks to its wealth of antioxidants, minerals and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It's also a good source of iron, protein, calcium for healthy bones. To top it all off, just one tablespoon of these nutty seeds contains as much fibre as a whole bowl of oatmeal. Grind them up and add to cereal or salad, or soak before adding to bread and other baked goods. Available from health food stores.

Buckwheat
Buckwheat is set to become the new quinoa, already well-known as a superfood. Actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb, it has long been used in China but its popularity has spread to the West in recent years. Why? It's high in manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc, all of which help to bolster the immune system, and it also contains all eight essential amino acids. Combine that with a low score on the glycemic scale and the fact that it's gluten free and you might just have found the perfect alternative to rice, wheat and corn.

Available in various forms from the likes of Amazon and Waitrose, it's a versatile superfood that can be used as a flour to make pancakes, flatbreads and noodles or simply added to your morning breakfast cereal.

Cape gooseberry
Native to South America, the Cape gooseberry is a tangy fruit that's all set to make a superfood name for itself this year. Also known as Inca berries, Pichuberries and Goldenberries, they contain 166 per cent more antioxidants than cranberries, particularly the powerful cryptoxanthin, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of lung and colon cancer.

They match prunes and dates on the fibre front and are a good source of potassium and vitamins A and C. Though you might see juices and jams on the shelves soon, Holland and Barrett already sell a sundried version.

Matcha tea
Most of us have heard that green tea is an antioxidant God-send, but these days just any old green tea isn't good enough. To get the full superfood boost, those in the know will be drinking matcha green tea this year. The key to its superfood success is the fact that it is ground into a powder, allowing the entire leaves to dissolve in water. That means you're not throwing away the leaves but getting all their green tea goodness.

Because it is grown in the shade, matcha boasts a very high chlorophyll content, which is why it is ultra-rich in the antioxidants that battle cancer-causing free radicals. In fact, a 2003 study at the University of Colorado found that just one cup of matcha contained 137 times the amount of the powerful antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) than your average cup of green tea.

It's widely available in health food shops, and can be used in ice creams, cakes and smoothies.

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Potatoes
It has long been a no-no for dieters but research last year suggests the humble spud has been hard done by. In fact, just one jacket potato contains five and a half times the fibre of the average banana, and more vitamin C than you'll get from three avocados.

And a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry last year found that two helpings of the purple variety (Purple Majesty) a day decreased blood pressure by four per cent without causing weight gain. Plus, it's probably the cheapest superfood on the market.