Which health foods are worth it?

It seems as though there is a different ‘health food’ fad every week, but which ones are worth your money, and which are a waste of time?

Often found being advertised in smoothie shops, wheatgrass is full of nutrients. It is high in iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. But then, you’d get similar nutritional value out of a handful of spinach or kale, and they’re likely to be a quarter of the price. Yes, it’s good for you, but is it really worth the high price tag?

Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain (as many people believe). It is one of the few ‘complete proteins’, or foods which offer the full complement of all nine essential amino acids. It’s also high in fibre and iron, and with quinoa becoming more readily available in supermarkets it can be a great way to increase your protein intake, especially when you include it in a salad.

Chia seeds
The tiny little black seeds have only the mildest of flavours, so they’re easy to hide in salads, smoothies or your breakfast oatmeal. But why would you want to add these edible seeds to your cooking? They are incredibly high in protein and fibre, so they can really improve the nutritional value of your dishes. Just be careful – it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, and with the high protein value of chia seeds you may discover you are consuming more calories than you really need.

If you’re a vegan, spirulina is a godsend. It is extraordinarily high in protein and, being made from dark green algae, is completely vegan friendly. But for anyone who eats animal products, you can get similar nutritional value through cheaper, more easily accessible foods, such as milk, yoghurt or an egg.

This traditional Japanese food is similar to tofu. The difference is that tempeh is made from while soybeans which have been fermented and then moulded into the blocks you see in the supermarket. The protein in tempeh is comparable to chicken, so it can be a good way to replace meat, even if you only want to go meatless one night per week.

Flaxseed (also called linseed – yes, they’re the same thing) is high in fibre, and contains Omega-3 fatty acids and protein. It needs to be ground up for your body to digest it properly, so as long as you’re using a flaxseed powder it can be a great way to add protein and Omega-3 to dishes. Or you could just eat a piece of fish!

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