Which new “superfoods” are worth the space on your shelves? We asked registered dietitians and bloggers at HealthyAperture.com, a recipe-sharing website. One caveat: “No matter how nutrient-packed or ‘super’ a food is, it isn’t a replacement for an overall approach to healthy eating,” says Regan Jones, R.D., the site’s founding editor. Instead, consider these new discoveries ways to give you a nutrition boost.
Hemp hearts. Also known as hulled hemp seeds, hemp hearts are an increasingly popular ingredient packed with protein, fatty acids and B vitamins. “They’re great to throw on top of foods for added benefits and nutty crunch,” says registered dietitian Louise Goldberg, who blogs at AnAppleADayNutrition.com.
Microgreens. The term “microgreens” doesn’t just apply to the size of the leafy veggies— it also means they’re younger, having been picked at less than 14 days old. And according to a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, they may have four to six times more nutrients than their older siblings, making them the darlings of dietitians everywhere. “I’ve discovered I can use them for just about anything: a base for salads, soups, smoothies and on tacos,” says registered dietitian Rachel Begun, who blogs at GlutenFreeRD.net
Coconut flour. It’s easy to see why some dietitians like this flour: It’s gluten-free, relatively low in carbs and has a natural sweetness. But be aware that you can’t sub this one- for-one with traditional flour; you’ll need to make other adjustments to recipes in order to use it. “It’s a steep learning curve, as it doesn’t behave like other flours,” says Alison Murray of the blog OmNomAlly.com. “But the results are high in fiber and protein!”
Nutritional yeast. This powdery, deactivated yeast has long been a staple in vegan diets because it can substitute for cheese in dishes. But anyone can benefit from its taste, versatility and stockpile of B vitamins, trace minerals and amino acids. “It’s low in sodium, so it can be sprinkled on stir fries, pizza and much more,” says registered dietitian Michelle Dudash of MichelleDudash.com.
Freekeh. A cousin of bulgur, this ancient grain is lower on the glycemic index than other whole grains (meaning that it is digested more slowly, keeping blood sugar levels from spiking) and higher in protein and fiber than quinoa. Try it in place of brown rice or couscous. It has a naturally smoky flavor and chewy texture.
Chia seeds. These ancient seeds are replacing flax seeds as the latest healthy add-on—unlike flax, they don’t need to
be ground, and they keep much longer. Dietitians like chia because the seeds are packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and they expand in your stomach to help you feel full. Sprinkle them on oatmeal, salads or yogurt, or blend into a smoothie or a pudding.
• Chia seeds, hemp hearts, coconut flour and nutritional yeast are all sold by Bob’s Red Mill at Bobsredmill.com and at most large grocery stores and natural foods stores.
• Freekeh can be found online at Freekeh-foods.com and in natural foods stores and some large grocery chains.