AUTHOR

dr. Grace J.K. MSc, MH, CHT.

02 February 2017

Hype Superfoods and What to expect from them

The trendy and fast growing healthy catering industry make superfoods a main attraction. Chia seeds are used in almost everything from breads to supplement drinks. We consume them hoping that they will miraculously makes us slim and healthier. That is not how they work; superfoods are not magic. But yes, they are healthier than most foods.

 

Chia Seeds

This seed is supposed to help control hunger while enhancing your diet with super-nutrients. Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. “Chia” means strength, and folklore has it that these cultures used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. That makes sense, as chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body (unlike flaxseeds). Two tablespoons contain about 139 calories, four grams of protein, nine grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals.

The mild, nutty flavor of chia seeds makes them easy to add to foods and beverages. They are most often sprinkled on cereal, vegetables, rice dishes, yogurt, or mixed into drinks, sauces and baked goods. They can also be mixed with water and made into a gel.

Using chia seeds in foods, not as a supplement, but as an alternative to processed grains like white bread is a much healthier option. Several experts recommend two daily doses, each consisting of 20 grams (a little less than two tablespoons) of chia seeds. Highlight of its benefits: the anti-oxidant activity of chia seeds is higher than any whole food, even blueberries.

 

 

Microgreens

They may be tiny, but microgreens like red cabbage, cilantro, and radish contain up to 40 times higher levels of vital nutrients than their mature counterparts. This statement is based on research from the University of Maryland, US. The 2012 study on microgreens reported that even the microgreen sample that had the lowest levels of vitamin C contained a whopping 20 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams – that's almost twice the amount of vitamin C found in tomatoes.

Microgreens are young seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs harvested less than 14 days after germination. They are usually about 1-3 inches long and come in a rainbow of colors, which has made them popular in recent years with chefs who use them as garnishes.

Because microgreens are harvested right after germination, all the nutrients they need to grow are there. If they are harvested at the right time they are very concentrated with nutrients and the flavor and texture is also good.

Microgreens are extremely delicate and, like any raw vegetable, need to be washed carefully before eating. Due to their high water content, cooking microgreens isn’t recommended. Don’t use them in a juice either because it reduces the fiber and vitamin content. When choosing a microgreen, researchers say to look for the most intensely colored ones as they will be the most nutritious.

 

Kelp

This brown seaweed grows like a big tree in the ocean. This "sea tree" algae is loaded with nutrition. Say you add a couple of tablespoons of kelp to your soup, green salad or stir-fry - those spoonfuls will contribute only four calories and no protein, carbs or fat. However, you will get some calcium, iron, folate and magnesium - and loads of iodine.

Kelp has also been linked to many health benefits, including cancer prevention, thyroid regulation, and weight management. If you have a family history of diabetes, you should know that kelp is rich in a little-known mineral called vanadium, which is being studied as an important regulator of insulin and blood sugar.

While there are tons of kelp supplements out there, kelp is hard to standardize and the nutrition in supplements may be questionable. Go for the real deal instead. You can find kelp at most health-food markets and sometimes in the regular grocery store. If you don't eat gluten or are cutting back on carbs, try kelp noodles instead of your regular pasta. They're raw and work great as a substitute in any noodle dish.

If you can only find dried kelp, reconstitute it with a little water (this doesn’t take long), then drain it and mix it with thinly sliced cucumbers, a splash of sesame oil and some vinegar. Sprinkle it with sesame seeds and call it lunch!

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