Is it me or is every other popular blog post recipe about something made out of chia or quinoa? Luckily, I like both… well, quinoa more than chia since I’m allergic to the latter. Still, what if you have never tried either OR if you have and don’t like them? is it even necessary to force yourself to try these so-called super foods? Well, let’s figure out why they’re super, shall we? Foods with that label typically have a higher concentration of antioxidants than on other foods in their category (fruit, vegetable, grain).
Take quinoa for example; can’t you just stick to brown rice and get the same benefits? Well, first: congrats on making the switch from useless, diabetes instigating white rice to it’s browner sister. Off the top of my head I know that brown rice is high in fiber but this handy infographic from the Prevention.com blog spells out why quinoa wins the competition. Hint: quinoa has more protein , fiber, and folate per cup than the same amount of brown rice.
Verdict: give quinoa a try. You might not like its nutty flavor as a newbie but you can start by mixing it with your brown rice or buying it that way. You can also cook it in low sodium chicken stock to add more flavor if you like.
The chia seed is not only high in antioxidants but this little Mayan powerhouse is also high in protein, fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. Wait, didn’t we JUST fall in love with flax seeds for the same reasons? well, chia has higher amounts of the aforementioned nutrients than flax does AND you can eat the seeds whole ( flaxseeds need to be ground up in order to be absorbed). People that like chia usually sprinkle it on other healthy foods or mix it into liquids to make chia pudding as the seeds turn gelatinous when wet.
Basically, the ideas is that chia seeds can make a healthy meal even healthier by boosting its nutrient content but here is the catch I found: There IS so much as too much of a good thing when it comes to the fat soluble vitamins (chia has 15 IUs of Vitamin A), allergy potential ( I got a bad rash) and tummy troubles ( chia with a side of bloating, anyone?). In short, try it sparingly first before throwing yourself wholeheartedly into it. Actually, this is a good rule of thumb for most “fad” foods!
Final Verdict: as our world gets smaller (AND bigger) new foods that make eating more interesting and beneficial will come and go. Your goal is to enjoy your meals while getting the most out of them nutritionally. Foods like quinoa and chia can boost your nutrient level quicker than their more traditional counterparts so explore your options.