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If you enjoy trying new ingredients, you may have noticed that grocery aisles these days are abundant with interesting finds. As global supply chains evolve, consumers benefit from an increasing range of foods from around the world, but the fact is that many of these foods offer important health benefits worth considering as well. Here are new ways you can reach your nutrition goals with foods you might not have tasted yet.

Boost Your Fiber

Dietary fiber makes you feel full faster and can help you control your weight. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t eat enough dietary fiber to get the 25 grams a day that’s recommended. If you want to increase your fiber intake, here are a few stellar foods to consider:

  • Persimmon. Loaded with beta-carotene and boasting an impressive 6 grams of fiber per serving, persimmons are a sweet and tangy fruit with a silky, slippery texture similar to a mango or a roasted sweet pepper. You can eat them raw in salads or add them to desserts and grain dishes for an interesting pop of flavor.

  • Farro. If you’ve been avoiding rice in lieu of quinoa for its higher protein and fiber benefits, you might try farro, which has a texture more akin to brown rice. Farro is actually a type of wheat often referred to as an “ancient grain” because it has been a mainstay in Italian cooking since the Roman era. You’ll get 10 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein packed into a 1-cup serving. However, if you are gluten sensitive, steer clear.

Eat Smarter Carbs

If you’ve been making food choices to better control your blood sugar, you’ve probably tried just about every cauliflower recipe on the planet. Cauliflower is a great substitute for many starchy carbohydrate choices like potatoes, rice and pasta. However, it’s not the only option out there. Here are some common veggies that are definitely worth trying:

  • Rutabaga. Technically a member of the cabbage family, rutabaga is a versatile mild-flavored vegetable with a creamy consistency when boiled, making them a great substitute for potatoes in many dishes. Just peel their waxy skin and you’re set. In terms of nutrition, a 1-cup serving of boiled cubed rutabaga has 51 calories and 12 grams of carbs, compared to 200 calories and 33 grams of carbs in the same amount of potatoes.

  • Kohlrabi. With its large green (or sometimes purple) bulb and leafy greens on top, kohlrabi (also known as a German turnip) is worth getting to know better. Once you remove the thick outer skin, kohlrabi can be boiled, mashed, roasted or stewed. You can even eat them raw, grated and tossed into salads, or sliced into thin spears to accompany your favorite dip. Just make sure you don’t toss the leaves, which can be cooked as you would kale, because they provide an extra nutrition boost. One cup of raw kohlrabi clocks in at 36 calories per cup and only 8 carbs.

Enjoy More Plant-Based Meals

Eating more plant-based meals is good for your health as well as the planet, so it’s a big trend that’s gained traction lately. However, many processed foods designed to stand in place of regular meat products can also contain a slew of additives and preservatives. Why not feature an honest-to-goodness vegetable at the center of your plate? Here are two versatile veggies you should try:

  • Jackfruit. This tropical fruit, increasingly popular to use barbecue dishes because its fibrous flesh has a texture similar to pulled pork, is now popping up in the produce aisle of many groceries. Its size can be intimidating (a mature jackfruit can weigh 30-50 pounds), so you’ll almost always find it sold pre-cut in smaller pieces. Aside from the adventure of tackling this beasty fruit, another reason to opt for fresh jackfruit over canned is the reward of its large chestnut-like seeds, which can be boiled or roasted.

  • Kabocha squash. Also known as Japanese pumpkin, kabocha squash have a dark orange flesh similar to butternut squash. However, its drier texture makes it far more flexible to use. One easy recipe idea? Toss sliced squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, then roast on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 400F oven for 20-30 minutes. When the squash is fork tender, it becomes the perfect addition to salads, soups, casseroles, and curry dishes.

Strengthen Your Immune System

Antioxidants, abundant in most fruits and vegetables, play a critical role in fighting inflammation and keeping your immune system running smoothly. If you’re looking for some new foods to try, here are some excellent choices to consider for boosting your body’s infection fighting powers:

  • Black garlic. This intriguing seasoning begins as a regular head of garlic that is fermented through a month-long aging process (sometimes even longer), resulting in blackened cloves that provide even more antioxidant benefits than when it started. The “garlicky” flavor is less pronounced and the texture can be a little chewy, but black garlic makes a fine addition to sandwiches, spreads and marinades.

  • Dragon fruit Juicy, with a slightly sweet taste that some describe as a cross between a kiwi, a pear, and a watermelon, dragon fruit is a pulpy fruit with loaded with antioxidants as well as nutty-flavored edible seeds. It makes a great addition to fruit salad or salsa along with other tropical fruits like pineapple and mango, or you can freeze it and blend it into a smoothie.

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