They are the kings of the eating world. The be all and end all when it comes to improving our diets. They are of course, the super foods! From humble spinach and exotic golden berries, to curly Kale and the hard-to-pronounce Acai berry, super foods boast an incredible amount of health benefits, and were always trying to incorporate them into a diet!
But, whilst many of them are amazing, its important to remember that they should only form a part of a well balanced diet. You shouldnt cut out other good, healthy food stuffs to focus solely on super foods.
As the global food market opens up, and more and more new ingredients are studied for their incredible immune boosting properties or fat burning power, we take a look at some of the new, exciting superfoods that are generating a lot of buzz!
Lupen – A Luscious Legume
When you think of a legume, youre probably imagining a pea or a bean. Well Lupen, this latest superfood to hit the shelves, is actually a grain. It packs a powerful punch, with a low GI index, low in carbs, high in protein and high in fibre!
You can pick it up either in flour form, or as flakes, meaning its really versatile to use in the kitchen. Its great for substituting breadcrumbs (e.g on breaded chicken), or for adding to regular flour for baking bread, muffins or pancakes.
Its made up of about 45% protein, and 30% dietary fibre, which means when you add it into bread, it makes you feel fuller quicker and for longer, so you can avoid those cravings for snacks. That makes it a great weight loss ingredient, as well as helping with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Teff – A Super Small Grain
Another member of the grain family, Teff holds the claim as the worlds smallest grain. It comes from Ethiopia, and is traditionally used in flatbreads, but you could add it to any baked goods, oats or smoothies.
Its gaining in popularity because its great for those on specific types of diets. Its gluten free, and contains more iron, zinc and magnesium than wheat, so is ideal for those avoiding gluten and needing a good source of fibre for their diet to help them feel full and stop snacking!
For a grain, its also full of protein (a 56g serving is equivalent to a large egg) and full of calcium, making it ideal for those who have dairy intolerances. High in iron, it will also give you plenty of additional energy.
Nigella Sativa – Magical Black Seeds
No, this isnt something straight out of Nigellas kitchen! Theyre black seeds – similar to quinoa and chia – that are full to bursting with both protein and anti-oxidants. Theyre a bit more like a spice, and are often called black cumin – and youd need to consume them daily for the full effects.
But the benefits are huge, as they are absolutely full of minerals and chemicals that could reduce blood sugar levels, fight cancer, protect your heart, and help reduce stomach upsets.
They do have a little bitter aftertaste, but can be added to pretty much anything – from soups and breads to salads, curries, and even on top of your porridge!
Super Water – Drinking From Trees
Finally, theres the superfoods you can drink. Coconut water has been fairly mainstream for a while now, and thats reflected in the supermarkets. The problem is that many supermarket brands put too much sugar in their coconut waters.
Instead, protein coconut waters are rising in popularity, adding the boost of protein to re-hydration. Beyond that, there could even be a shift to water that comes from the tree itself, rather than the fruit on it. Dont be surprised if you see Birch water or Maple water for sale, from the sap of these trees.
Theyre naturally sweet and low in calories, and pack a load of naturally occurring minerals, antioxidants and electrolytes, including potassium, zinc, copper and calcium!
Dont forget those easily available, local superfoods either, like broccoli and blueberries – theyre still just as nutritious!