Say Hello to the Health Aisle – Monique Piderit, RD (SA)

Paleo, ketones, intermittent fasting, grass-fed, organic: these and other buzzwords are renowned for filling up a conversation in health circles. But these words are often so foreign to our kitchen many a wary shopper stay far away from the health foods aisle. Get to know a few of the residents of the health food aisle for the next time your way down through these niche products.

 

  1. Goji Berries

It’s a go for goji berries, the darling of the dried fruit world. Goji berries are the original “superfood”, loaded with many nutrients with high biological activity, such as polysaccharide complexes, carotenoids like zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, neoxanthin and cryptoxanthin, phenylpropanoids, and the vitamins C, B1 and B2, all of which contribute to the high antioxidant capacity of this snack food. It’s these factors that research has shown may help in preventing diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

 

As healthy as these and other dried fruits are, like cranberries and raisins, be careful not to overdo it on the waistline. One tablespoon of dried berries is the same as eating a bunch of grapes, so practice portion control when snacking on these health food superstars.

 

  1. Chia Seeds

Traditionally found in Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds are the tiny, edible seeds of the Salvia Hispanic, a flowering plant in the mint family. The flavanols and phenolic compounds like caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol are just some of the nutrients in chia seeds that may contribute to protecting the heart and liver, and are also involved in cancer prevention and anti-ageing.

 

Did you know that chia can absorb up to 12 times its own weight in water? This handy feature means that when chia comes are left in water, it forms a gelish-like mush. This is what makes these seeds helpful to work its way through the gut to help soften stools and make them easier to pass, in addition to its high fibre content. Sprinkle chia seeds onto cereal, oats or yoghurt or blend into smoothies.

 

  1. Nut Butters

The humble, traditional peanut butter has received a makeover. Macadamia, almond and cashew nut butters are now all the rage in health circles, and for very good reason. Nut butters provide an excellent source of heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering fats. Nut butters are a flavourful and tasty way to boost the nutritional value in your day, whether spread on wholewheat bread, stirred into hot oats, or blended into smoothies. With no added salt, sugar or preservatives, Oh Mega Nut Butters are an essential pantry staple.

 

  1. Beetroot Juice

The deep and richly coloured beetroot juice is a popular vegetable juice, especially among keen athletes. Beetroot is rich in nitrates, a compound that helps produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels to increase blood flow, may improve lunch function and regulates the contraction of muscle. This combination makes it a very important food in the diet of those who are active. Ready-to-drink beetroot juice is available from Rugani at Food Lover’s Market.

 

Recipe

 

Apple & Cinnamon Date Balls

 

Ingredients

1 ½ cups pitted dates

50 g raw almonds

1 cup dried apple rings

1 tbs. chia seeds

1 tbs. coconut oil

1 tbs. cinnamon

¼ cup desiccated coconut

 

Method

  1. Blend all ingredients except the desiccated coconut into a food processor until well combined.
  2. Scoop 1 Tbsp. of mixture into your hands and roll into a compact, gold-sized ball.
  3. Roll the ball in the desiccated coconut and set aside.
  4. Repeat until all mixture is used and about 14 – 16 balls are made.
  5. Leave to set in the fridge for 1 hour before serving.

 

Nutritional Analysis Per Date Ball

Energy Carbohydrate Protein Fat Fibre
340 kJ 9.2 g 1.2 g 4.0 g 1.5 g

 

 

References

 

  1. Ali NM et al. The promising future of chia: Salvia Hispanica L. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2012. Doi: https://europepmc.org/articles/pmc3518271.
  2. Domínguez et al. 2018. Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on intermittent high-intensity exercise efforts. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15:2.
  3. Kulczyński, B.;  Gramza-Michałowska, A. Goji berry (Lycium barbarum): composition and health effects – a review. J. Food Nutr. Sci., 2016, Vol. 66, No. 2, pp. 67–75 DOI: 10.1515/pjfns-2015-0040.
  4. Ormsbee, M.J., Lox, J. and Arciero, P.J. 2013. Beetroot juice and exercise performance. Nutrition and Dietary Supplements, (5): 27–35.
  5. Ullah MR et al. Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanica): a review. J Food Sci Technol (2016) 53: 1750. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-015-1967-0.
  6. Zafeiridis, A. 2014. The effects of dietary nitrate (beetroot juice) supplementation on exercise performance: A review. American Journal of Sports Science, 2(4): 97-110.