With over a quarter of the UK’s adults classified as obese, the pressures of healthy eating seem to be overwhelming a large number of individuals. Furthermore, fad diets are being thrown at us left, right and centre, which simply aren’t sustainable in the long run. A lot of people are therefore turning to so-called superfoods, which sees them spending more on their weekly shop as they buy Goji berries, quinoa, Maca powder and seaweed to name but a few.
The question is, what makes these foods so super, compared to other affordable options? George Rouse, head chef of Georges Kitchen, has 16 years’ experience within the catering industry. Below, he shares his insight into affordable everyday superfoods that you can incorporate into a healthy balanced diet. Not only will they see you living healthier but they will also save you money on your weekly shop.
Although there’s no denying the health benefits of these superfoods, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives. It is important to remember that the only way to achieve any health benefits from these foods is to maintain them in your diet long-term. A short-term fad diet won’t work in keeping you healthy in the long run, so you need to focus on your diet and lifestyle as a whole.
By comparing super foods with other healthy options that don’t share the same prestigious title, we can look at the health benefits of each ingredient along with the price and even flavour.
Wheatgrass versus spinach
Wheatgrass is famed for its healing capabilities as it contains high levels of nutrients in a single shot of wheat grass juice. At approximately £4.99 for 100g of wheatgrass it’s by no means cheap. When looking for cheaper alternatives, turn your eyes towards spinach. With spinach sitting at approximately 50p per 100g it’s a fraction of the price with many similar nutrients and benefits to that of wheatgrass.
Thinking about how you consume the two is an important factor when comparing them. The most common way to ingest wheatgrass is to liquidise it and drink it in either a shot or combined in a smoothie. Spinach on the other hand can be sautéed, eaten raw in salads or even drunk as a smoothie. Although wheatgrass contains more protein it seems spinach has it beat when it comes to the price and amount of iron and calcium content.
Maca root powder versus purple sprouting broccoli
Maca has become insanely popular in the last few years. Originally native to Peru, its original use was as a medicine to improve fertility and increase sex drive. The Maca plant is usually found in powder form or as a supplement and is approximately £3.99 per 100g.
Maca has a high magnesium content. Magnesium, when ingested through food, works with your nervous system preventing it from creating an excessive amount of a stress hormone, cortisol that can lead to anxiety. By levelling out your stress hormones your body will naturally begin to put other hormones, such as testosterone and oestrogen, into better balance, which can lead to a higher sex drive. Looking for cheaper alternatives? Think about eating purple sprouted broccoli; at about 90p per 100g not only is it cheaper, it’s also packed full of magnesium and is even thought to have anti-cancer properties.
Goji berries versus raspberries
Goji berries have climbed in popularity in recent years. However, as popular as they are, they actually started their superfood status as an old Chinese medical plant, used to treat eye, liver and kidney complaints. Goji berries are packed full of nutrients and antioxidants that are beneficial to the immune system and great for maintaining healthy skin, although at £2 per 100g they can quickly bump up your weekly shopping bill.
Try swapping goji berries for raspberries. Not only are raspberries around 95p per 100g -under half the price of goji berries – but they also boast many of the same health benefits. Raspberries are incredibly good for you, having been proven to help regulate blood pressure and maintain/ improve healthy skin cells, all resulting in you looking as good as you feel.
Chia seeds versus sesame seeds
The word Chia in Mayan translates to strength in English, which is a pretty good description of the benefits of these humble little seeds. A 20g serving of chia seeds provides you with 126mg of calcium out of the 1000mg of your recommended daily allowance, to help strengthen bones and teeth. With chia seeds demanding a price of roughly £1 per 100g they aren’t the most expensive super food on the market but what if there were a cheaper and better alternative?
Sesame seeds are one of the most diverse seeds used in cooking. Whether they are on top of a baked roll or coating sushi, these seeds have been used for years but are somewhat overlooked. Sesame seeds are 10p cheaper than their super food counterpart and really give chia seeds a run for their money. Looking at the calcium content, 20g of sesame seeds gives you 195mg of calcium, nearly 70mg more than chia seeds. On top of this sesame seeds also provide more protein, iron and magnesium. Making them not only delicious but a very affordable superfood replacement.
There are many more healthy alternatives to super foods, as a consumer it is important to look at what is seasonal and do some research into the nutritional benefits of the food you are buying. Different foods have a different purpose, so be sure to look into whether what you are buying is right for your own personal goals. Always remember that healthy eating needn’t be boring or expensive and that some of the most delicious foods on the market are also the healthiest. With all foods, it comes down to making sure you’re maintaining a well-balanced diet.
By George Rouse, Executive Chef and MD of George’s Kitchen, a boutique catering company operation throughout London and the home counties. For more information visit GeorgesKitchen.co.uk.