We love the concept of superfoods – kind of the superheroes of the food world. While you’ll hear me all the time promoting everyday superfoods that are widely available in your local grocer or supermarket, there are every year a few new ones that make the headlines. So here are my predictions for the superfoods that are taking the world by storm.
I’ve long been a big fan of legumes or sometimes called pulses. These are beans, chickpeas and lentils of all kinds. There are numerous different varieties and they are pretty fabulous nutritionally as we can count them as our protein food or smart carb on the Dr Joanna Plate. In fact 2016 is the International Year of the Pulse so this superfood is timely!
Lupin is a legume but it’s pretty unique in its nutritional profile. Like other legumes it’s high in protein, but it has a very low amount of available carbohydrate and an extremely high level of fibre. 100g of lupin provides about 40g of protein, only 4g of carbohydrate, 6g of fat and a whopping 37g of fibre!
This makes it a pretty amazing food to add to a recipe to reduce the glycaemic load, while boosting the fibre and protein. It can therefore be of benefit in controlling blood glucose levels, reducing blood cholesterol levels and boosting gut health.
You can buy it as lupin flakes (buy online) or as lupin flour (find a stockist). The flakes make an excellent crumb for schnitzel or baked fish or chicken, or to make into falafel. The flour works really well when used to substitute some of the regular flour in a recipe.
Check out this terrific video from Lupin Foods for more info: What’s So Good About Lupins?
In this era of grai
n phobia (and I don’t share that view), I’m loving that this new to us, but actually an ancient grain, is hitting the superfood scene. Teff is a tiny grain that has been traditionally grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It’s incredibly resilient and so thrives in the many difficult conditions of these areas of Africa. It is now gaining attention from the rest of the world due to its nutritional properties.
It is high in a special type of fibre called resistant starch. This promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, boosting immune function and promoting good gut health. It is also gluten free, and is especially high in calcium – terrific for those on dairy-free diets. It also has more iron, zinc and magnesium than wheat, with less phytic acid that reduces the absorption of these minerals.
Teff is similar to millet or quinoa in cooking, and so you can use it as an alternative in any recipe. It’s also gluten free making it ideal for coeliacs and anyone following a low or gluten free diet.
Matcha is powdered green tea leaves and we have long known the fabulous benefits of drinking green tea. Where matcha differs is that you actually consume the leaves, unlike the traditional steeped tea. This means that matcha has higher levels of the polyphenol antioxidants found in green tea.
There is some concern there may be heavy metal contaminants such as lead in matcha as these can concentrate in the leaf so I would look for a brand that tests for this.
Blackmores have added matcha to their superfoods range and you can add the powder to water, into your favourite smoothie or even add to a range of recipes. It’s incredibly popular in Japan and I’m foreseeing a surge of matcha products here.
GREEN BANANA FLOUR
I’ve long been a fan of green banana flour and since a number of journalists have recently asked me about this I’m predicting it will hit mainstream this year.
Green banana flour is a really interesting product and I’ve been having fun experimenting with it. I have a huge interest in gut health and how our diet influences the types and amounts of bacterial groups living within the gut. A particular type of fibre called resistant starch has recently been recognised as be a key influencer as it ‘feeds’ the good bacteria, encouraging their growth to the detriment of the bad guys. This is why green banana flour caught my attention. Green bananas are high in resistant starch and so the resultant flour has real potential as a functional food with knock-on gut and other health benefits.
CSIRO here in Australia recommend that we consume 20g of resistant starch daily, yet most of us are only getting about 5g. About 40g of green banana flour provides 20g of resistant starch – that’s only 2 tablespoons. So although the carbohydrate content of green banana flour looks to be similar to wheat flour, about two thirds of it is resistant starch. In other words it is carbohydrate that is resistant to breakdown in the small intestine by our own digestive enzymes, and so instead it enters the colon where it is fermented by the gut bacteria. This releases beneficial short chain fatty acids that help to keep the cells of the colon healthy, but also boost our immune function and are absorbed up into the blood stream with various other health effects throughout the body. We also obtain some energy from this process, so the gut bacteria are essentially helping us to digest and make use of the food.
Green banana flour is also gluten free so ideal for coeliacs or those with a gluten intolerance. It doesn’t taste of bananas so if you don’t like the fresh fruit don’t let that put you off. I have successfully used it in pizza bases, muffins and other baking. If you don’t need the recipe to be gluten free, try substituting some of the wheat flour with green banana flour to lower the carbohydrate, glycaemic load and boost the fibre and resistant starch. I used it in my pizza base recipe and it works brilliantly.
This article was originally published on Dr. Joanna McMillan’s site.