I was interviewed by the BBC World Service – The Food Chain recently for my opinion on the term “superfoods” and my thoughts on some of the foods which have recently been labelled as “superfoods” in the media. The show touches on foods like quinoa, teff, kale and chia from marketing, sales, agricultural and nutritional angles.
If you have never heard of some of these foods here is a brief description and the nutritional breakdown:
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) – not actually a cereal but it is finds itself as a nice replacement for rice or barley in the diet. Cultivated originally in the areas around Bolivia by the Inca civilization. Quinoa is gluten-free and consists of 73% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 12% fat as a proportion of energy.
Teff (Eragrostis tef) – a very small grain native to Ethiopia and surrounding areas of Africa. It is a very small grain, approximately the same size as a poppy seed. It grows well in less than ideal conditions including very wet and very dry at a variety of altitudes. Teff is high in resistant starch (up to 40%) – a type of carbohydrate similar to dietary fibre – is gluten-free and consists of 73% carbohydrate, 13% protein, 2% fat as a proportion of energy.
Chia (Salvia hispanica) – an oil seed – not a cereal – which is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (plant based omega-3) and when eaten whole is a good source of dietary fibre. Also native to the areas of central and southern America this seed consists of 15% carbohydrates, 17% protein and 67% fat as a proportion of energy.
Kale – a leafy green vegetable similar to broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Like most dark green leafy vegetables it is high in beta-carotene which can be converted to vitamin A in the body, vitamin C and high in vitamin K. These dark green leafy vegetables are also good plant sources of iron.