With the health food industry booming, the popularity of superfoods has most certainly increased. Being more educated about nutrition and having access to information about what types of food suits our body, has allowed people to have an understanding about what their body needs. Buzzwords and trends like ‘juice cleanse’ , ‘keto diet’, and ‘intermittent fasting’ are regularly at the forefront of the information we consume when it comes to food and nutrition, but what should we actually buy into?
Statistics have shown that 24 percent of people would spend more money on superfood products in 2020. This highlights that the investment that people make into their nutrition is growing and the buzz surrounding superfoods and the way they can help our bodies is being seen more and more.
(Image Source: Statista)
What are superfoods?
Superfoods are a type of food that have shown to be nutritionally dense and good for your health. They are typically plant-based, but do often refer to fish and meat products that are high in a certain micronutrient. Although there is no cemented criteria as to what makes something a superfood, the American Heart Association has outlined a list of foods that are becoming categorised as super foods. Some people argue that the category of superfoods is simply a marketing gimmick rather than an intense health benefit, however, foods that are often labeled or referred to as a superfood do provide our bodies with the nutrition that our bodies may be craving or needing.
Blueberries, Kale, Salmon, Acai are just some of the foods that are considered a superfood and have become popular in the everyday household and those trying to better their eating habits. These superfoods in particular are said to be able to prevent cancer and heart disease. Being high in fibre, antioxidants and healthy fats these foods are essential to ensuring that our bodily functions are running at their finest.
The chemicals often found in plants are often counted as a superfood because of the numerous health benefits. These phytochemicals (the chemicals in plants that give it a dark green colour) is something that we should be consuming as part of a healthy diet. Known to aid blood circulation and protect vision, consuming these superfoods and plants as part of your diet can only be a good thing. For example, kale and broccoli are packed full of vitamin A, C and K as well as fibre, Calcium and other essential minerals.
Another way to easily consume foods that are packed full of nutrition is by adding nuts and seeds to dishes whenever we can. From walnuts and almonds to flax seeds and poppy seeds, the consumption of these nuts and seeds is beneficial for our bodily function. A winning contender in the nuts and seeds championship is chia seeds. They have been made into puddings and added to breakfast and this small but mighty superfood doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
Chia seeds and the Benefits
Chia seeds have become known as one of the healthiest foods in the world and in the past few years have really magnified in popularity in the Western world. However, they have been consumed for years and originate from Central and South America.
Chia seeds are small balck seeds that are a member of the mint family. It is extremely versatile and is extremely nutritious. With the rise in veganism and more plant based diets chia seeds are often used as an egg replacement and are known to absorb liquid to increase in size and make gel like substance. The consistency of chia seed gel is similar to that of a jam or a jelly and can be flavoured as you desire due to chia seeds not having the most distinct of tastes.
The nutritional value of a handful of chia seeds, which is approximately 25 grams, only contains 122 calories, 4 grams of protein and 7g fat. This makes it a very worthwhile food. Known to make you feel full for longer as well as fueling you when paired with other foods, chia seeds are one of the most diverse and varied foods when speaking in the context of superfoods.
Some of the health benefits of chia seeds are being beneficial to bone health as it is a high calcium and magnesium food, and being great for heart problems and blood pressure. The poly-unsaturated fat content and high fibre levels in chia seeds are the nutrients that are responsible for these effects. Of course chia seeds are considered a superfood, but it has to be noted that they work alongside a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Lots of other nutritionally dense food paired with chia seeds can only make for a nutritionally beneficial impact on your body and in turn aid any potential health problems. Chia seeds are small and mighty and shouldn;t be overconsuumed, just like with any food, so adding a small handful to your daily diet will be sufficient to reap the nutritional benefits from them.
Ways to use your chia seeds
The low calorie nature and nutritional benefits of chia seeds means that they can be added to many things without being too calorie dense. Whether that be on your cereal or in a smoothie, they are so diverse and can give you an easy nutritional boost.
A very popular way that consumers are using chia seeds is by adding them into a pudding. A 3 ingredient chia pudding seems to have taken the internet by storm and has been incorporated into many people’s weekly meal prep. Blogs like Feel Good Foodie have shared the method to making chia seed pudding and not turning to a chocolate bar when you are craving something sweet.
All you need to do is add some almond milk to a jar with your chia seeds and anything you would like to sweeten it (like honey or sweetener). The general measurement is for every half a cup of milk add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds and see what consistency suits you. Mix and allow to refrigerate and then enjoy. It is one of the really simple ways you can begin to incorporate chia seeds into your diet and with the health benefits, it really is no surprise that they are taking the health food market by storm.