We’ve all heard the term “superfood” but what does it mean? Well, superfoods can be defined as a food that contains a large concentration and/or variety of nutrients, vitamins and/or minerals and, typically, antioxidant properties that have been linked to disease prevention and the treatment of various illnesses. There are a great number of superfoods around today, two of the most common ones you’ve probably heard of are Kale and Goji Berries for example, but there are still many more out there, let’s take a look at some more superfoods, where did they come from and how did they become “super”.
It’s interesting how spirulina came to be a food at all, let alone a highly sought after “superfood, as it’s actually a form of algae found in both salt and fresh water. While its origins may seem odd, there’s no denying the high level of nutrients found in spirulina. A single tablespoon of spirulina powder, at 7 grams contains: 4 grams of protein, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, iron, copper as well as many other vital nutrients. In addition, spirulina only contains 1 gram of fat – which includes both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Spirulina, like other superfoods, contains many antioxidants that have been linked to the prevention of certain cancers, the regulation of blood-sugar levels and more.
Native to South America, Chia seeds were once consumed by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, who praised them for their ability to grant energy – furthermore, Chia is the ancient Mayan word for “strength”. They’ve certainly been around for a very long time but have only become recognised as a superfood in recent years, which granted a surge in their popularity. Chia seeds are very tiny but pack a huge nutritional punch, just 28 grams of Chia seed contains: Calcium, 11 grams of fibre, 4 grams of protein, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, vitamin B1, B2, B3 and 9 grams of fat with 5 grams being Omega-3. All of that in just 28 grams, which only contains 137 calories. Like other superfoods, Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants which are thought to benefit cardiovascular health and blood-sugar levels. They are best sprinkled over cereals or infused in smoothies.
Quinoa is a grain hailing, again, from South America which, like Chia seeds, has been consumed for centuries by the indigenous populations of the region, but has only recently become “mainstream”. Quinoa is now available all over the globe and is one of the most sought-after health foods. It’s high in protein, gluten-free and also contains ALL 9 essential amino acids. Of course, being a superfood, Quinoa is high in antioxidants and other essential nutrients including: fibre, calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin E and B1,2 and 3. Compared to some other superfoods, Quinoa is rather affordable and easy to incorporate into a meal, a 500g bag will only set you back $7 at Woolworths for example, and that’s the organic kind. Quinoa can be ready to eat in 20 minutes via boiling on the stove, if cooked properly it’ll have a mild, nutty flavour coupled with a rewarding crunch. Combine with a colourful salad for a nutritious snack.
South America seems to be a hive of superfoods as, like Chia seeds and Quinoa, Acai berries also hail from the continent. Acai berries have been used by the natives of the Amazon rainforest for centuries, who prize the berries for the health benefits they can deliver. Acai berries were one of the first foods to be caught up in the recent superfood craze in western culture, and for good reason. Acai berries are antioxidant powerhouses, containing more antioxidants than other berries like blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. The high level of antioxidants found in Acai berries are thought to aid in cancer prevention, treatment of heart disease and diabetes treatment. Acai berries also contain healthy fats omega-3 and omega-6, fibre, B-complex vitamins and vitamin k.
Not just a delicious spice, cinnamon has also been prized for its medicinal properties for hundreds of years. In fact, cinnamon was once a rare and valuable treasure in Ancient Egypt and was regarded as a gift worthy for royalty. Today however, it’s cheap, readily available and comes in many forms. Keeping up with other superfoods, cinnamon is of course bursting with antioxidants. Furthermore, recent research puts cinnamon at the top of the leader board when comparing the antioxidant content of other spices, it even overtakes other known superfoods like garlic.
As well as being a delicious addition to many recipes, garlic has often been regarded as a defence against the common cold, but is it really? Garlic contains an antioxidant called “allicin” which delivers a powerful antibacterial impact against germs/viruses in our systems and has also been linked to healthy skin. However, allicin is best absorbed from raw, crushed or sliced garlic rather than cooked garlic so if you’re fighting a cold, throw some raw garlic into your next meal.
What is Manuka Honey?
Often very pricey, upwards of $30 sometimes, Manuka Honey is often regarded as a superfood, but why? Manuka honey, derived from the Manuka Plant, has been shown to contain a high level of antibacterial properties and is thought to assist with wound healing when applied to the impacted area. Consequently, it is also thought Manuka Honey also benefits us internally when consumed – treatment of sore throats for example. However, there is little evidence to suggest it’s worth the high price-tag, furthermore not all Manuka Honey is created equal, so it can be tricky to know if you’re obtaining the possible benefits. Until there is further research into Manuka Honey, it is best to save your hard-earned cash.
Well there you have it, a bit of a history lesson on some of the more obscure items you might hear people hunting for in the supermarket with great urgency. Yes, while these foods are known to possess a bevy of nutrients and various antioxidants, don’t feel the need to buy all of them, a well-rounded diet can grant you all the nutrients and antioxidants you need for a reasonable price, rather than shelling out $30 on a small jar of honey.
Unfortunately, superfoods are sometimes marketed aggressively at high prices, designed to prey on those looking for a quick fix or who don’t know any better. Save your money and talk to us instead, we can show you how to eat all your favourite foods without blowing your budget, while still consuming all the vital nutrients and antioxidants under then sun.