Super food is a term used to promote certain foods as having additional health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Have you ever wondered if these super foods can really make a big difference in your diet and your health? Let’s take a look at three of these super foods and the hype surrounding them.
Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”): Quinoa has become increasingly popular with the attention surrounding ancient grains.
It is a good source of fibre, protein, and minerals and is a popular gluten-free choice that can be included in salads, entrées, and even desserts. Quinoa has a nutty flavour, with a fluffy yet crunchy texture.
It comes in a variety of colours including yellow, red, pink, and black. It takes only 15 minutes to cook in boiling water and is a great alternative to other grains like rice and pasta.
Goji Berries (aka Wolfberries): Goji berries are small red fruits that are a common ingredient in traditional Chinese cuisine.
They are mildly sweet and sour, and can be incorporated into a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, or desserts.
They are usually sold as juice or dried. Goji juice is ready for consumption but dried goji berries need to be cooked. Goji berries are a source of a variety of minerals and vitamin C; however, the vitamin C content varies amongst the dried berry products.
There are several health claims associated with this berry including lowered blood cholesterol levels and anti-aging benefits; however, more research is needed to support these claims. Goji berries are a source of several nutrients but they should not replace other foods in your diet.
Chia Seeds: Chia seeds, grown and harvested in South America and Mexico, have been touted as a popular super food. Some research shows that chia seeds have the potential to support heart and digestive health, thanks to their high fat (as omega-3 fatty acid) and fibre content. Chia seeds have a mild, almost non-existent flavour, and contain no cholesterol. They are gluten free and low in saturated fats. Chia seeds are recommended as a protein choice for vegetarians and vegans, as they contain all the amino acids we need to consume. Chia seeds can be purchased as ground whole chia seeds, chia flour, and chia oil. Chia flour can be used as a gluten-free alternative in place of all-purpose flour in baking recipes. Thus, chia seeds can be a great food choice but should be treated as an addition to your diet and not an agent of disease prevention.
There is no one food item that can provide all the energy and nutrients your body needs. These super foods may be beneficial in many ways but they should not be a replacement for a well-balanced diet.
Give these foods a try by adding them to your favourite dishes for some extra nutrition and variety.
Rose Soneff is a community nutritionist with Interior Health. Column in collaboration with Stephanie Lau and Janine Seto, UBC dietetics students.