Nourished Living by Dietician Kelly Hamlin MA, RD, CDN

What’s so super about the new so-called ‘super foods’

A segment on the Today Show the other day identified some of the new “super foods” for 2012.

Super foods are foods that appear to offer additional health benefits beyond simple nutrition.

Though there really isn’t a standard definition of the term super food, a food carrying that designation usually has a combination of the following attributes: low in calories, contains substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids or monounsaturated fatty acids, high in fiber,contains phytochemicals that have been found to have the potential to prevent disease in laboratory or clinical research, rich in vitamins and minerals, and low in unhealthy substances such as saturated fats, trans-fats or refined sugars.

The “new” super foods mentioned in the program that you may want to check out are:Chia seeds: (yes, as in “Cha, cha, cha – chia…..”) Provide an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants, are a good source of calcium, a good source of plant based protein and an excellent source of the plant derived omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, similar to walnuts and flax.

As with any nut or seed, they are low in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol, but like all nuts and seeds they are more calorie dense, 139 calories per (2.5 Tbsp), so it is important to watch serving sizes and consume in moderation.

They are best consumed in their whole state, though grinding them is okay.

Give them a try as part of your healthy eating regimen.

Use as a yogurt or oatmeal topping, tossed into a smoothie, or as a binder and healthy fat in baked goods (particularly vegan or gluten free baking).

Jicama: Jicama belongs to the legume or bean family and is native to Mexico, Central and South America where it is a popular dietary staple.

Jicama is a fleshy underground tuber and looks similar to a turnip or a large radish, with a taste and texture similar to a water chestnut.

Its skin is thin and can be gray, tan, or brown in color with white flesh.

Jicama is mostly water and is a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.

It also contains inulin (a naturally occurring, indigestible and non-absorbable oligosaccharide produced by certain plants with prebiotic effects), which is partly responsible for its sweet taste.

In addition, inulin increases the absorption of calcium, and possibly of magnesium.

Combined with the fiber and water found in jicama, these nutrients help both hydration and blood pressure.

Although it is a sweet-tasting source of fiber, it does not appear to raise blood sugar or triglyceride levels.

Broccoli Sprouts: Broccoli sprouts are seeds from the broccoli plant that have germinated and grown for three to five days.

Loaded with vitamins and minerals, both broccoli and broccoli sprouts offer a wealth of nutrition with few calories.

Broccoli sprouts carry a higher level of the biochemical sulforaphane than mature broccoli heads.

Sulforaphane has been shown to have potentially anticancer effects.

The compound appears to work by triggering the body, especially the gastrointestinal tract, to produce enzymes that protect against damage-causing chemicals and inflammation.

They can be grown in your home and can be eaten raw or cooked. has a ton of information on growing, recipes, etc. if anyone is interested in finding out more information.

Next week, I’ll bring more super foods to the plate, but you may have to keep an open mind for a couple of them!

Have a great week!

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