7 new superfoods (and how do you pronounce quinoa anyway?)

You can’t walk two steps at the moment without falling over someone who is detoxing. Or pledging to give up sugar. Or dairy. Or eat more pulses. We’ve already talked about how much alcohol you’ve consumed over the Christmas period, now onto food – had your fill of turkey, canapes and ham sandwiches already? Site Co-ordinator, Nicky Champ gets the lowdown on ‘superfoods,’ what they are and what to do with them.

The word, superfood is one of those trendy words that is often bandied about and confusingly applied to everything from broccoli and blueberries to more obscure ingredients like amaranth. For the purpose of this article, I’m using superfoods to describe all those newish foods which are starting to integrate into diets and café menus, that you may have heard about, can’t remember how to pronounce or that are currently rotting in the back of your pantry.


1. Acai

Say what? It’s pronounced Ah-sigh-ee.

What’s so good about it? This berry is packed full of goodness, in fact it is one of the highest natural foods to contain antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids. American author and dermatologist, Dr Nicholas Perricone named it his number one food to help combat anti-ageing. The reason? It’s high monounsaturated oleic acid content, which helps omega-3 fish oils penetrate cell membranes, making skin more supple.

How do I eat it?

You can buy it in dried or powdered form and convienently in a capsule. Just like you would with other dried fruit – the dried berries can be added to muesli and trail mix and the acai powder can be added to smoothies, juice and yoghurt.

2. Amaranth


Say what?

Am-ma-ranth. Which sounds to me like a ground down powder that was once used for some kind of ancient mystical Mohican ritual. It wasn’t – but the Incans and Aztecs have been using it for centuries to give them strength and sustenance.

What’s so good about it? Its seeds have a higher protein content than that of the wheat grain, but it has the added benefit of being gluten free and easily digestible. It is also high in iron, calcium, amino acids and lysine that can assist in the growth and repair of the nervous system. A good food source for vegetarians, vegans, children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

How do I eat it?

It comes puffed so you can eat it much like a cereal or add it to yogurt and smoothies. Rolled Amaranth makes an instant porridge and can also be added to baked recipes.

3. Chia


Is an ancient seed that has more Omega 3 and dietary fibre than any other food from nature. They come in black and white varieties which are virtually the same.

What’s so good about it? Chia seeds promotes heart health, joint function and mobility. It is also gluten free and good for digestion. As well as being high in Omega 3 and fibre, it contains antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals.

How do I eat it?

Chia seeds can be sprinkled over salads, cereals and muesli or incorporated into breads, muffins, slices, cookies or porridge.

You can also mix with water and then add to smoothies, juices, herbal teas, yogurts, soups, salad dressing or sauces. This is what Sarah Wilson refers to as “a glutinous coating that makes one’s bowels work somewhat smoothly.”

4. Coconut Water



Coconut water is is the clear liquid inside young green coconuts – not to be confused with coconut cream or milk which is from a mature coconut and much higher in fat.

What’s so good about it?

Some nutritionists argue that coconut water isn’t any better for you than H2O. The claim is that coconut water is an excellent hydrator – the high mineral content means it contains more electrolytes than typical sports drinks and more potassium than bananas. Gaining popularity last year amongst celebrities, you can find it in bottled versions in most supermarkets and health food shops, but the original source can’t be beaten. Best avoided if you suffer from nut allegies and best not avoided if you are stranded on a deserted island.

What do I do with it?

Drink it. You can also add it into baking recipes as a substitute for milk or water.


5. Goji Berries


Also known as the Chinese Wolfberry, this Tibetian berry is grown in the hills between northern China, Mongolia and Tibet.

What’s so good about them?

They are packed full of antioxidants with 21 minerals and high in Vitamin C – Goji has been used medicinally in China for centuries to improve blood circulation, strengthen the limbs, improve eyesight, protect the liver, increase libido and boost immune function.

The ORAC (anti-oxidant scale) scores goji berries as 25,300. To put that in perspective, blueberries score 2,400 and green tea is 1,686.

How do I eat them?

Tasting like a mixture between cherries and salty raisins you can add them into trail mix, muesli bars, salads, cake batter, lunchboxes or steeped in tea.

6. Kale


A dark, leafy green in the same vegetable family as broccoli and brussels sprouts. Er, yum.

What’s so good about it?

Kale contains high amounts of beta carotene, iron and folate. It aids digestion and helps you to feel fuller due to the high fibre level. A small cupful of cooked kale provides more than half the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.

How do I eat it?

Steaming, microwaving or stir frying are the best methods of cooking kale, as boiling decreases the level of the cancer compounds. The flavour of kale goes well with dry-roasted nuts in Asian-style salads. Many countries use kale in traditional soups and stews, often served with potatoes. Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter after being frozen.

7. Quinoa



Say what?

This one has been creeping into salads and soups on cafés menu of late, it’s pronounced ‘keen-wa’ and it originated in the Andean region of South America 3000 to 4000 years ago.

What’s so good about it?

Much like amaranth, it is easily digestible, gluten-free and contains high amounts of fibre and protein –  unlike wheat or rice it is high in lysine and essential amino acids.

How do I eat it?

It can be used as a substitute for rice or couscous, and it is cooked and eaten much the same way. It can be added to salads or as an alternative to breakfast cereal accompanied with honey, almonds and berries. Quinoa flour can be used in wheat-based and gluten-free baking.

Note: It needs to be soaked to remove the saponins (chemical compounds) which help aid digestion; the soapy nature of the compound is what makes it act as a laxative. Check the label as some packaged quinoa will have been pre-rinsed.

Are you detoxing at the moment? What are you eating or not eating?