Super foods such as wheatgrass, acai berries, and quinoa are all the hype from magazine articles, to social media, to health food stores as well. Chances are these foods are generally good for you, but the question is why are they good for you and are they worth their higher prices? Keri Gans, Registered Dietician and author of The Small Change Diet, explains exactly what some of these top super foods are and whether they are worth the extra money they cost.
Acai berries, usually found in a processed form such as a powder, are a big boom in the health food world because of their high levels of antioxidants. However, Keri Gans explains, “Blueberries and raspberries are equally high in antioxidants”. Local berries, especially when in season, are probably a cheaper and more accessible way of obtaining antioxidants. It is also important to know that neither the FDA nor any research has ever backed up any claims stating acai berries have “special weight loss powers”.
Wheatgrass is a young grass in the wheat family and is full of nutrients like magnesium, iron and vitamins. It is usually found in capsule or liquid form, and is a popular addition to smoothies and similar juice beverages. Gans says, “It’s not going to cause any harm to do a shot of wheatgrass in your smoothie, but it isn’t going to do much more than just eating a healthy snack.” Wheatgrass does have health benefits, but other easier to find vegetables offer just as many benefits and cost less too.
Chia seeds are tiny, edible seeds, which have 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein in just one tablespoon. Chia seeds are also relatively tasteless, which Gans says “Is a great way to boost the nutrients in your salads, smoothies, or a bowl of oatmeal.” They can also keep you feeling full because of their high fiber content and are an excellent way to sneak some extra protein into your meals.
Quinoa is often referred to as an “ancient grain”, however it is really a seed. Keri Gans explains quinoa is an excellent source of protein because it is “a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids” and also is loaded with iron and fiber. This “super food” is one worth the extra price.
Spirulina is a protein and beta carotene (an antioxidant) packed dark green algae, most commonly found in dried powdered form. One dried ounce contains about 15 grams of protein, which is the same amount found in two jumbo eggs. People who eat animal products get these nutrients just as well and for a much lower price. Spirulina is a great way to get needed protein if you are a vegan, however if you are not vegan, there are much more accessible ways to get needed protein from animal products.
Flaxseed is another excellent way to sneak nutrients into baked goods, cereals and smoothies. Flaxseed is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber and does not have much flavor to it. It is important to note that flaxseed needs to be ground up for your body to digest it fully and gain all of its nutrients. This is another “super food” that is worth finding and spending a little extra money on.