What do acai bowls, activated charcoal buns and turmeric lattes all have in common? Other than being absolutely delicious (albeit a tad over overpriced), they are all part of the current “superfood” frenzy. Largely popularised by social media, fitness bloggers worldwide and Jamie Oliver, these trending foods promise to boost vitality, extend life expectancy and promote optimal health. So, what are superfoods and are they really worth the hype? Here are my top 10 superfoods unravelled.
1. Chia seeds ✔
Chia seeds pack a powerful nutritional hit whilst being low on calories and carbohydrates. Just 2 tbs of chia seeds contain 130 calories and almost 30% of your daily-recommended intake of manganese, magnesium and phosphorus (Gunnars, 2017). They also contain a fair amount of dietary fibre and will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Not to mention they are a great plant source of calcium and omega-3 which makes them a vegan friendly substitute. *
Kitchen Hack: Chia seeds are a natural food thickener making them highly versatile. They can be added to breakfast smoothies, desserts or even prepared alone.
All in all, chia seeds are definitely a SUPERfood.
*Long chain fatty acids such as omega-3s are said to improve blood cholesterol levels. Other foods high in omega-3s include walnuts and fatty fishes such as salmon (BBC, 2018).
2. Quinoa ✔
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is often crowned the “supergrain” of the superfood variety. It is a type of whole grain that is low GI, high in fibre and also a great source of protein. Rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron and lysine means that it is beneficial for energy production, muscle repair/growth and cell protection (Wilcox, 2012).
Kitchen Hack: Its bland flavour makes it a great base to build on flavour. You can have it for breakfast instead of porridge, add it to salads or simply use it as a rice alternative for curries and stir frys. The options are endless!
Certainly gets my tick of approval. ✔✔✔
3. Kale ✔
Unlike our beloved quinoa “super grain”, kale often gets a bad rap for its bitter flavour and is [unjustly] voted the most disliked superfood. However, prepared properly kale can be both nutritious and delicious.
Kale is brimming with nutrients such as iron, vitamin K and vitamin C. It is also a great liver detoxing food due to its high fibre and sulphur contents (Lewis, 2017).
Kitchen Hack: Add it to your next smoothie and see how great you feel. Otherwise simply steam kale and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt for an easy side dish.
4. Turmeric ✔
If quinoa is the “supergrain” of the grain world, then turmeric is easily the “superspice” of the spice word. Or for the 90’s music lovers, turmeric is the equivalent of the Spice Girls’ “Posh Spice”- the most notable and the most memorable.
Turmeric contains a substance called curcumin, which has incredible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Antioxidants such as those found in curcumin can help to protect against free radicals in the body which may react with our fatty acids, proteins or DNA to cause ageing and disease (Gunnars, 2017).
Other benefits associated with turmeric include lower risk of heart disease, cancer prevention and prevention against age-related chronic diseases (BBC, 2018).
Kitchen Hack: Splurge and treat yourself to a golden turmeric latte on your next coffee date or for a more budget friendly option try incorporating turmeric into your cooking, particularly in curries.
Blueberries like most berries are low on sugar and calories but provide the perfect sweet hit for those post dinner sugar cravings. They are high in anthocyanins which given the berry its blue colour and is also responsible for its powerful antioxidant properties.
Blueberries are rich in Vitamin C to give you that beautiful glowing skin and also contains calcium, magnesium and Vitamin K for maintaining healthy bones (Ware, 2017).
Kitchen Hack: Another super versatile food, you can add blueberries as a topper to your smoothies, oats, pancakes or yoghurt. I like to enjoy blueberries as a post dinner snack with some Greek yogurt, honey and peanut butter.
Is the superfood craze justified? Yes and no. There are definitely many health benefits that come with eating these foods but they are by no means the magic potion to longevity. Try and incorporate some of these “superfood” items into your diet but don’t get caught up in the fad of it all. Instead try to add variety to your diet by eating fresh foods that fuel your body. That said, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to an acai bowl or a refreshing kombucha on a hot summer’s day.
BBC. (2018, January 29). The World’s Most Nutritious Foods. Retrieved from BBC: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180126-the-100-most-nutritious-foods
Gunnars, K. (2017, June 9). 10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric#section1
Gunnars, K. (2017, May 30). 11 Proven Health Benefits of Chia Seeds. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds#section1
Lewis, A. (2017, March). Top 10 Health Benefits of Eating Kale. Retrieved from Mind Body Green: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html
Steen, J. (2016, August 11). We Asked Which Superfoods Are Actually Worth The Hype. Retrieved from Huffington Post Australia: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/08/10/we-asked-which-superfoods-are-actually-worth-the-hype_a_21449244/
Ware, M. (2017, September 5). Everything you need to know about blueberries. Retrieved from Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287710.php
Wilcox, J. (2012, May 31). 7 Benefits of Quinoa: The Supergrain of the Future. Retrieved from Mind Body Green: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4994/7-Benefits-of-Quinoa-The-Supergrain-of-the-Future.html