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Superfoods are gaining popularity—and for good reason. They directly support the immune system, reduce inflammation, support mental health, pack a nutritional punchand boost energy, stamina and longevity.

Here are eight superfoods to watch in 2016 that are not only good for you, but also good for the planet:

1. Crickets

Long consumed in many parts of the developing world, crickets are sneaking their way into cookies, milkshakes and other food items in the U.S. Photo credit: Shutterstock
Long-consumed in many parts of the developing world, crickets are making their way into cookies, milkshakes and other food items in the U.S. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Crickets are loaded with protein. They also “thrive in hotter climates and survive off decaying waste and very little water and space,” Mother Jones reported. For this reason, crickets and other insects have been hailed as the “next climate-friendly superfood.” They can be ground into baking flour or protein powder, and added to cookies, brownies or milkshakes.

While eating crickets—or any type of insect for that matter—hasn’t completely caught on in the U.S., it’s making progress. Last year, fast food chain Wayback Burgers put out a fake press release as an April Fool’s joke about insect-filled milkshakes, but the idea was so popular that they rolled out their Oreo Mud Pie Cricket Protein Milkshake.

2. Pulses

They’re the dried seeds of lentils, beans and chickpeas—and the UN has declared 2016 to be their year. They already make up 75 percent of the average diet in developing countries, but only 25 percent in developed ones, according to the UN.

That could all change, though. Pulses contain 20 to 25 percent protein by weight, approaching the protein levels of meat, which average 30 to 40 percent. They also require far less water than meat to produce.

3. Amaranth

amaranth
Amaranth is a complete source of protein. Photo credit: Shutterstock

“Amaranth is the new quinoa,” trend expert Daniel Levine told The Huffington Post. It’s a grain-like seed that cooks quickly and can be added to salads, soups and stews. It’s a complete source of protein just like quinoa, and it is loaded with fiber, B vitamins and several important minerals. Additionally, it’s been shown to reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

4. Kefir

Kefir is the trendiest fermented food right now (sorry, kombucha and kimchi). It’s high in nutrients and probiotics, and is incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health. Many people consider it to be a healthier and more powerful version of yogurt.

To make it, “grains” (yeast and lactic acid bacteria cultures) are added to cow or goat milk. The concoction ferments over a 24-hour period and then the grains are removed from the liquid.

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