nutrition-superfoods pic monkey

Anyone else over the whole ‘superfood’ phenomena? I actually really like Wikipedia’s definition of a ‘superfood’ –

‘Superfood is a marketing term used to describe foods with supposed health benefits.

‘The superfood term is not in common use by dietitians and nutrition scientists, many of whom dispute that particular foods have the health benefits often claimed by advocates of particular superfoods’.

So basically it is a term plastered on food packaging to sell more of a product. Clever. I reckon Dietitians need to start taking marketing degrees simultaneously. We could then definitely ‘outsell’ these other marketing gurus because we would also have hard evidence behind our recommendations rather than some half-baked claim, or something that sounds like it might be legit. At a stretch.

So what have we got? Kale, blueberries, acai, quinoa, goji, cacao, chia, maca, matcha…..and if you can pronounce all of those? Well you deserve a medal. If you know how to use all of those? Well then you deserve your own specialist degree in something. I am not sure what exactly.

Now don’t get me wrong. I eat and buy some of these things. I love blueberries on my porridge for example. But because I like the taste. Not because someone told me that blueberries are this amazing superfood with a hugely dense nutritional profile and amazing antioxidant properties.

I have never tried matcha but I have tried maca powder, and hated it. I ended up throwing out the entire bag (about $20 worth). Sacrilege. Actually, I can’t remember now whether it was maca or matcha….True story.

But let’s break this down and compare a ‘superfood’ – quinoa (pronounced keenwa) with good old fashioned oats that our grandmas’ ate.

oats-in-wooden-spoon

Quinoa 100g raw

Oats 100g raw

Kilojoules

1545

1634

Protein

14g

17g

Fat

6g

7g

Carbohydrate

64g

66g

Fibre

7g

11g

Price

$2.28/100g

$0.27/100g

 

Nutritiondata.self.com

So based on the above, they both have very similar energy contents, slightly higher protein content in the oats – I was actually a little bit surprised about this – if you read all the hype about quinoa, one of the things that is promoted is the high protein content of it. Well….

Fat content is almost identical as is the carbohydrate content. Oats have around 1/3 more fibre than quinoa. Oats have a glycaemic load of 37 whilst quinoa is 36, again almost identical. But as far as I can tell, the biggest difference seems to be price. Quinoa is 10 times as expensive as oats. For almost the same nutrition. Wow.

Quinoa_2732026b

Where quinoa might win out is in the actual break down of the protein it contains, or its amino acid profile. Quinoa is considered a complete protein as it contains all essential amino acids, whereas oats are missing lysine. Therefore compared to some carbohydrates such as pasta or potatoes, quinoa would be a better protein source for vegetarians or for increasing the protein in an athletes’ diets for example. In saying this, a serve (about 50g raw) would only give you about 7g protein. Not enough without another high protein source to be of any value for recovery. There aren’t many people I know who would add some stir-fry veges and chicken to their oats, yet this would be considered a very normal dinner with the addition of quinoa. Although, I have seen recipes for savoury oats – and really, why not? Maybe that will be a blog post in the future…

A plus for the oats is the fact they contain beta-glucans which has been shown to be beneficial in decreasing blood cholesterol levels. Oats for breakfast anyone? They are not quite gluten free due to contamination issues, whereas quinoa is – so a great choice for anyone with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance.

So. Both of these foods are super. But not necessarily ‘superfoods’. One is very affordable and one has a terrible price tag.

I think I will continue to enjoy quinoa on occasion, but I am not going to let a clever marketing whiz try and tell me that quinoa is 10x more nutritious than oats or any other grain.

overnight oats
Cocoa overnight oats with berries and stewed fruit- one of my favourite breakfasts
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