What are powdered super foods?
From chago to turmeric, here are the easy ways to get these nutrition-rich super foods into your diet
words Ella Glover
From the rise of gut health hacks to foraging for herbs to improve things like menstrual symptoms and acne, it’s safe to say we’re all becoming a little more conscious of our health and wellbeing. But have you heard of superfood powders yet?
Research suggests that young people are more into functional foods, that is, things like powdered superfoods, mushroom teas and allllll of the seeds, than synthetic multivitamins and processed protein bars.
Superfood powders are becoming an increasingly common staple in the pantry of any health-conscious individual. In fact, the market for these convenience-geared products is expected to grow by 7.2 percent in the next eight years – from $6.57 billion in 2022 to 11.5 billion in 2030.
So what gives? What are superfood powders and are they the answer to your wellness needs?
What are superfood powders?
In short, a superfood is any food that is bursting with nutrients, usually in relation to a specific health benefit, like glowing skin or better digestion. In this context, a superfood could be anything from salmon to broccoli. Dieticians and nutritionists tend to lean away from using the term ‘superfood’ to describe specific nutrient-dense foods because they believe they offer no greater benefit than eating a balanced, healthy and varied diet.
That being said, there are some truths to the discourse surrounding so-called ‘superfoods’. A 2021 study found that flax, chia, hemp and sunflower seeds may actually have health benefits, particularly for the gut. Another found that Goji berries have antioxidant properties and jackfruit contains high levels of vitamin C.
Rhiannon Lambert, a registered nutritionist & author of The Science of Nutrition, explains that, while not necessarily better than whole fruits and veggies, superfoods can certainly pack a nutritional punch. “For example,100g of dried goji berries contains 4 mg of vitamin A, compared to 2.5mg in fresh carrots,” she says. “Research suggests their mix of phytochemicals [naturally occurring chemicals that help plants fend off bacteria and viruses] and high nutrient levels can help improve overall health, support the immune system, regulate mood by increasing serotonin, and more.”
A superfood powder, then, is any superfood that has been ground into a powder for easy consumption, whether in a smoothie, your morning porridge or even a coffee.
SUPERFOOD POWDERS FOR THAT ADDED BOOST
What are the benefits of superfood powders?
While Lambert stresses that superfoods aren’t necessary for a healthy diet, and that we would need to consume large quantities of them to really reap the health benefits, there are some justifications for switching out an apple for a few teaspoons of spirulina powder – especially if you’re not very good at getting your greens in.
Kristel de Groot is the Co-Founder of Your Super, a leading plant-based superfoods company. Understandably, she believes in the power of powdered superfoods. While she agrees that superfood powders should be consumed alongside, and not in place of, a balanced, wholefoods diet, they’re ultimately preferable to synthetic supplements like multivitamins. “[Synthetic supplements are artificially made and contain isolated nutrients, which are more difficult for the body to process and absorb,” she says. Superfood powders, alternatively, are made from “real food that grows in nature”.
Superfoods are also a little more convenient for people struggling to get their five a day in. “Superfood powders are easy to use in day to day life, integrating seamlessly to your existing diet and routine,” de Groot adds. Simply adding superfood powders to your existing meals can improve their nutritional quality without you having to really think or do much at all.
What are some common powdered superfoods?
Spirulina is a type of algae that grows in both fresh and saltwater. It is packed with micronutrients including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, according to Lambert and de Groot. It is said to have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
According to de Groot, a good source “won’t taste fishy,” so be sure to pay attention to what your powder smells like. Spirulina can go in smoothies, or, if you’re hardcore, you can mix it with some water and drink it straight.
If you’ve never had a matcha latte, you’re behind the curve (sorry, we don’t make the rules!). Matcha, which Lambert says is high in antioxidants, is a natural caffeine source, and has grown in popularity in the past decade, most often used in hot beverages and sweet desserts, like mochi. It’s easy to prepare and has been linked to better brain function and liver health.
Matcha can go in lattes – hot or cold – and in any dessert you fancy.
Açai bowls are the breakfast of Instagram girlies everywhere, but, as well as making for a deliciously photogenic meal, acai berries contain a variety of antioxidants as well as fibre, according to Lambert. They’re usually sold powdered or frozen due to their short shelf-life.
Açai berries are found in Brazil – they grow on acai palm trees in the Amazon region – and, de Groot says, contain triple the amount of antioxidants found in blueberries.
Powdered açai is usually consumed as smoothie bowls with lots of other fruit, nuts and seeds sprinkled on top. If you prefer to drink your smoothies, simply add more liquid.
Turmeric is a common superfood, usually found on spice racks in just about any kitchen. Turmeric contains the naturally occurring micronutrient curcumin, which, Lambert says, “evidence suggests may have some anti-inflammatory properties.”
Turmeric can be added to any savoury dish, really, but it’s often found in curries and dahls. Mixing it with black pepper has been said to increase its benefits.
Chaga is a “functional mushroom,” that is full of antioxidants, according to de Groot. In fact, it’s often called the King of Mushrooms, so that says it all, really.
Like other superfoods, chaga is believed to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests that they stimulate our white blood cells, meaning they may help us to fight off infection. It’s also been linked to lower blood sugar levels.
Powdered chaga is most commonly consumed as tea.